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Shaping Humanity: Artist John Gurche Reconstructs Our Long-Lost Ancestors

Evening Seminar

Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Code: 1L0021

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What did early humans really look like? Paleo-artist John Gurche has spent more than three decades searching for answers to this question. Inspired by a lifelong fascination with all things prehistoric, Gurche studies fossil remains, comparative ape and human anatomy, and forensic reconstruction. For the Smithsonian’s groundbreaking David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, opened in 2010, Gurche created 15 sculptures representing 6 million years of human history.

In his new book, Shaping Humanity: How Science, Art, and Imagination Help Us Understand Our Origins (Yale University Press), Gurche describes the extraordinary process by which he creates forensically accurate and hauntingly realistic representations of our ancient human ancestors.

Hear about Gurche’s experiences working with Smithsonian scientists to depict human evolution for the exhibition at the Museum of Natural History and the debates that surround these often controversial depictions.

Gurche is artist-in-residence at the Museum of the Earth’s Paleontological Research Institute in Ithaca, New York. His works have appeared frequently in National Geographic and similar publications and in major natural history museums including the Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History, and the Field Museum.

Copies of Gurche’s book will be available for signing.

Smithsonian Connections

Gurche at work as he created the sculptures of early humans for the Smithsonian.

Watch Shaping Hunanity: How Science, Art, and Imagination Help Us Understand Our Origins.



The Boston Globe l By Chris Wright
John Gurche, hominid sculptor
How one 'paleo-artist' turns skull fragments into a creture with a soul.
Read article>>



S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
Metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit (Blue/Orange)