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Mesoamerican Art Scholar and LLILAS Alum Virginia Fields Dies in Los Angeles

Posted: June 23, 2011

Noted Mesoamerican art scholar Virginia Fields, a LLILAS PhD and student of renowned Maya scholar and hieroglyphic expert Linda Schele, died in Los Angeles earlier this month at the age of 58. Dr. Fields was senior curator of Arts of the Ancient Americas at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

A 1989 PhD of LLILAS (then ILAS), she was on the curatorial staff of the museum for twenty-two years, and was credited with making it a vital center of Latin American culture by organizing such major exhibitions as Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico in 2010. The show featured the giant basalt portrait heads of Olmec rulers, similar to San Lorenzo Monument 1 at the entrance to 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. 

According to colleague and friend Kent Reilly, Professor of Anthropology at Texas State University and a fellow PhD of LLILAS, "She was one of the most dynamic graduates of LLILAS. Her work influenced our entire vision of the ancient Maya and also the entire Native American past. She advanced the field at least a decade."

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