MacArthur Fellows Program

Heather Hurst

Archaeological Illustrator | Class of 2004

Reconstructing vivid and heretofore lost images of the Mayan past from raw field data and ancient artifacts.

Archaeological Illustrator
New Haven, Connecticut
29 at time of award

Heather Hurst is an archaeological artist and illustrator who, through reconstruction, revives ancient paintings and drawings of the pre-Columbian Americas. For her palette, she draws from many different kinds of primary materials collected by archeologist collaborators – crushed, fallen building stones, field drawings, photographs, topographic maps, and functional interpretations of structures based on lab analyses of ceramics, soils, and artifacts. Through a combination of knowledge, skill, and intuition, she meticulously assembles these elements into vibrant representations of Mesoamerican visual culture. Her work with the Maya murals of Bonampak is her finest achievement to date. Through these reproductions, she conveys a sharp image of the ancient Maya world, retrieving fallen warriors and lost hieroglyphs—in short, making visible what no eyes have viewed since 800 A.D. She has produced a vivid window into the Maya past, revealing the details of forgotten monuments, their human faces, and their architectonic intentions. Her paintings and architectural renderings not only recover previously lost records, but are works of art in their own right.

Heather Hurst received a B.A. (1997) from Skidmore College and is a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology and archaeology at Yale University. She has played a key role as an archeological illustrator at sites in Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. Her illustrations have been published in National Geographic and Arqueología Mexicana and exhibited at the Peabody Museum of Natural History and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

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Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY.
Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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