A preview of a film about Martha Egan’s unique collection of antique religious relicarios will be screened at Casa Perea Artspace June 17, 6-8 p.m. It is co-located with the Pachamama folk art shop across from the fire station and south of Ex Novo brewery. Egan, a former Peace Corps volunteer, began collecting the antiques in the 1980s after discovering the small objects in a shop in Lima, Peru.
The shopkeeper who sold her three two-sided, hand-painted pendants described them as 18th century silver-framed relicarios. She later discovered they were not antique and not framed in silver. Intrigued nonetheless, she began to search for the real ones, asking many questions and researching them in libraries. Some authentic frames held simple prints or portraits of saints, done in oils or gouache, while others were bas-relief carvings in wood, bone, wax, alabaster or ivory.
Egan has given presentations on her collection and the art form in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and around the United States. The collection has been exhibited at the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Spanish Colonial Art Museum, among other venues.
Her 2020 book Relicarios: the forgotten jewels of the Americas, won a Silver Foreward Indies Book of the Year award.