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Anthony Meyer

ph.d. candidate // art historian

anthony.joshua.meyer [at]

Anthony Meyer is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he specializes in the Indigenous Arts of the Americas. His research, broadly speaking, focuses on Nahua art, language, and religion in the Mexica Empire (1325-1521 C.E.) and sixteenth-century New Spain.

Originally from the Carolinas, Meyer holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Archaeology with highest honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he curated a thesis on Classic Maya ceramics. While pursuing his Ph.D. at UCLA, Meyer has participated in several international research projects, including Early Modern Conversions which studies forms of religious and non-religious conversion and Making Worlds which examines global themes of migration, movement, and making. In addition, Meyer has organized the Indigenous Material and Visual Culture of the Americas (IMVCA) working group, which hosts Indigenous scholars and projects, and has coordinated working groups and technical workshops for the Architecture Lab at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. At present, he sits on the Strategic Planning Committee with the Society for Architectural Historians.

From 2021 to 2023, Meyer will complete his dissertation as the Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Ph.D. in Art History (expected 2023)
University of California, Los Angeles

M.A. in Art History, 2017
University of California, Los Angeles

B.A. in Anthropology & Archaeology, 2013
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dissertation: “The Givers of Things: Tlamacazqueh and the Art of Religious Making in the Mexica and Early Transatlantic Worlds”

Certificate in Early Modern Studies, Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies, 2019

Thesis: “Repositioning the Middle: Movement, Sculpture, and the Body in the Central Cauca Valley (1000-1400 C.E.)

Thesis (with highest honors & distinction): “Housed Within: a museum display and investigation of a Classic Maya household at K’axob”

Meyer’s research has spanned time and space, with projects on ceramic sculpture in the ancient Andes, sacred art in the Mexica Empire and early colonial Mexico, the reception of Nahua art and religion in sixteenth-century Europe, and contemporary Mapuche artists in Chile.

His dissertation, “The Givers of Things: Tlamacazqueh and the Art of Religious Making in the Mexica and Early Transatlantic Worlds” confronts the colonial erasure of Nahua religious leaders (tlamacazqueh) by examining the material and spatial roles these makers played both before and after Iberian invasion. Sixteenth-century Iberian authors obscured these figures and their artistic practices, while scholarship has dismissed them in favor of better-known state artisans outside the religious sphere. However, through an analysis of Mexica art, archaeological sites, and early colonial Nahuatl texts, Meyer reclaims the role of making in Nahua religion and situates the tlamacazqueh as skilled makers with artistic knowledge.

The tlamacazqueh mastered techniques that helped them to create sacred artworks that drew on the bodily senses and animated Nahua religion, and these skills were part of a Nahua concept of artistry called tōltēcayōtl. In individual chapters, Meyer explores the spaces where these religious leaders learned (īxtlamachtiā) their skills; the ways in which they cut (tequi) materials and created new forms with flint knives; how they molded doughs and folded fig bark to place (tlāliā) and present sacred energies; and how they wrapped (quimiloā, ilpiā) sacred art with smoke and woven fibers to create surfaces that could perceive. Therein, he unpacks the relationships between these Nahua makers and their made things to complicate Euro-American frameworks of animacy and personhood, while also centering the networks and knowledge that constellated around these individuals.

Since religious leaders and their practices did not suddenly vanish once the Mexica Empire had fallen to Iberian invaders in 1521, Meyer’s dissertation also charts the tlamacazqueh and their artistic skills as they transformed alongside Europeans, Africans, and other Indigenous groups in the transatlantic world of sixteenth-century New Spain. In fact, religious leaders took drastic measures to protect sacred artworks in the fallout of war, and in the early years of Iberian occupation, they took on new roles as community mediators and practitioners who maintained their artistic and sacred knowledge. By straddling these pre- and post-Invasion worlds, Meyer sheds light on how religious leaders disseminated, presented, performed, and essentially made two religious systems, one Mexica and the other Ibero-Christian.

Outside of his dissertation, Meyer’s research interests include semiotics and linguistic relativity, synesthesia and embodied experience, transatlantic exchange, and the materiality of religions. For his graduate research, he has received fellowships and grants from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the Fulbright Association, the Huntington Library, the John Carter Brown Library, the Renaissance Society of America, the Society for Architectural Historians, and the Social Science Research Council.

Teaching AssistantDepartment of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles, 2018-2019

Art and Architecture of the Ancient Americas, with Dr. Stella Nair, Fall 2018
Modern Art, with Dr. George Baker, Winter 2019
Medieval Art, with Dr. Meredith Cohen, Spring 2019

Auxiliar de Conversación en España (English Teaching Assistant), Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, IES Villa de Vallecas, Madrid, Spain, 2014-15

Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship
The Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, 2021-23

RSA-Samuel H. Kress Fellowship in Renaissance Art History
Renaissance Society of America, 2021

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship
U.S. Department of Education & COMEXUS, 2020-21 (declined due to COVID-19)

Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (IDRF)
Social Sciences Research Council, 2020-21

CCL/Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice (Funded Participant)
Center for Curatorial Leadership, 2020

Helen Watson Buckner Memorial Fellowship
John Carter Brown Library, Brown University, 2020

Fulbright IIE García-Robles
U.S. Department of Education & COMEXUS, 2020 (declined)

Bancroft Library Summer Study Fellowship
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2019

Edilia and François-Auguste de Montêquin Junior Scholar Fellowship in Iberian and Latin American Architecture
Society of Architectural Historians, 2019

Summer Institute for Technical Studies in Art (Funded Participant)
Harvard Art Museum & Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University, 2018

Graduate Research Mentorship Academic Year Fellowship
Graduate Division, UCLA, 2017 – 18

Graduate Summer Research Mentorship Fellowship
Graduate Division, UCLA, 2017 & 2018

Graduate Residential Fellowship
Fundación AMA, Santiago, Chile, 2017

Mellon Summer Graduate Research Fellowship
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2016

Title VI Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Academic Year Fellowship
U.S. Department of Education & IDIEZ, 2015-16

Eugene V. Cota-Robles Diversity Fellowship
Graduate Division, UCLA, 2015-16

Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Distinction
Dean’s Office, UCLA, 2015 & 2017

Huntington Travel Grant for Study Abroad
The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, 2021

Patricia McCarron McGinn Memorial Award
Department of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles, 2020

First Place Award for Best Paper
44th Annual Cleveland Art History Symposium
Cleveland Art Museum and Case Western Reserve University, 2018

Tinker Field Research Grant
Latin American Institute, UCLA, 2018

Early Modern Summer Mentorship Award
Center for 17th– & 18th-Century Studies, UCLA, 2018

Ralph C. Altman Award
Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, CA, 2018

Mellon Foundation Field Research Grant
Latin American Institute, UCLA, 2016

Art Council Endowed Scholarship in Art History
Department of Art History, UCLA, 2016

“Poner cosas en orden: Categorías coloniales, manufactura y religión nahua.” In XLV Coloquio internacional de historia del arte. Espistemologías situadas. México, D.F.: Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Accepted.

“Stony Bundles and Precious Wrappings: The Making of Patio Crosses in Sixteenth-Century New Spain.” In Conversion Machines in Early Modern Europe: Apparatus, Artifice, Body, edited by Bronwen Wilson and Paul Yachnin. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. In press.

“Toward a Decolonial Future: Relationality and Digital Scholarship.” Backdirt: Annual Review 48 (February 2022): 68-75.

“Thinking with History: Sixteenth-Century Epidemics and Colonial Legacies in the Americas.” Backdirt: Annual Review 47 (February 2021): 30-37.

8 section essays: “Maize, Rain, and Harvest in Greater Mesoamerica,” “Creatures of the Sky,” “Creatures of the Earth,” “Creatures of the Water,” “Animals in Olmec Art,” “Ballgame among the Maya and across Mesoamerica,” “Altered States: Tobacco and Hallucinogens,” and “Offerings.” In Forces of Nature: Ancient Maya Art from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (自然的力量——洛杉矶郡艺术博物馆藏古代玛雅艺术品), edited by Megan E. O’Neil. Beijing: Cultural Relics Press, 2018. Exhibition catalogue.  

Book review of Afro-Caribbean Religious Arts: Popular Expression of Cultural Inheritance in Espiritismo and Santería, by Kristine Juncker. African Arts 50, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 93-4.

“A World Made Known: The Mexica Calmecac and its Pedagogic Landscapes.” Buell Dissertation Colloquium. The Temple Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University, New York, NY. 29 April 2023.

“The Generative Cut: Flint Knives and Religious Leaders in the Mexica World.” Objects that Remember the Past Panel. College Art Association Conference, New York, NY. February 2023.

“Sticky Flesh, Folded Skin: The Animate Making of Nahua Religious Leaders.” Shoptalk Presentation. The Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. Washington, D.C. December 2022.

“Toward a Softer Núcleo: The Malleability of Nahua Religious Making.” Indigenous Agency and Continuity in Colonial and Modern Latin America Panel. American Society of Ethnohistory Conference, Lawrence, KS. September 2022.

“Tenochtitlan’s Calmecac and the Architectonics of Religious Learning.” Open Session Panel. Organized by Diane Shaw. Society for Architectural Historians Conference, Pittsburgh, PA. April 2022.

“Tlamacazqueh y el arte de la manufactura religiosa en el mundo nahua.” Mesa 4: Pedagogía de técnicas culturales. XLV Coloquio Internacional de Historia del Arte: Espistemologías situadas. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, México, D.F. October 2021.

“Through Tlamacazqueh Eyes: Religious Art and Architecture in the Mexica and Transatlantic Worlds.” Fowler Art Museum, University of California, Los Angeles. September 2019.

“Bundled Metaphors: Carving and Experiencing Patio Crosses in Sixteenth-Century New Spain.” American Art History Graduate Student Symposium, Yale University. April 2019.

“Coming into Contact? Spatial Experiences of Patio Crosses in Sixteenth-Century New Spain.” 44th Annual Cleveland Symposium, Cleveland Museum of Art. October 2018. *Recipient of Best Paper Award.

“Mediators of Life and Death: Sculpted Bodies from the Central Cauca Valley.” Graduate Student Symposium, Department of Art History, University of Southern California. October 2017.

Dutch (advanced)
French (advanced)
German (advanced)
Italian (advanced)
Nahuatl, Huasteca & Classical (advanced)
Portuguese (intermediate)
Spanish (advanced)
Yucatec Maya (intermediate)