College of Liberal Arts

Virginia Fields, Scholar of Mesoamerican art, Latin American Studies Alumna, dies at 58

Fri, Jun 24, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - Virginia Fields, a leading scholar of early Mesoamerican art and archaeology, died Wednesday, June 15 at age 58.

Fields, who earned a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin in1989, was the senior curator of Arts of the Ancient Americas at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For more than 22 years, she devoted her work to making the museum a vital center of Latin American culture by organizing such major exhibitions as “Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico.”

The exhibit featured the giant basalt portrait heads of Olmec rulers, similar to San Lorenzo Monument 1, which is located at the entrance of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) and the Benson Collection.

The exhibition was the first presentation on the West Coast of both the colossal heads and small-scale sculptures produced by Mexico's earliest civilization, which was centered in the Gulf Coast states of Veracruz and Tabasco. 

"She was one of the most dynamic graduates of LLILAS,” says Kent Reilly, professor of anthropology at Texas State University and a fellow LLILAS alumnus.” “Her work influenced our entire vision of the ancient Maya and also the entire Native American past. She advanced the field by at least a decade."

Read her obituary in the Los Angeles Times for more about her work.

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