A path-breaking engagement of classroom and archives

The first formal connection between the Norman Daly Collection, held by the Cornell University Archives, and a university graduate course has recently taken place.

Student class at Archives investigates contents of  boxes.

In the Spring of 2023, Professor Poppy McLeod had planned to take her Advanced Communication Theory class, a requirement for first-year PhD students, on a field trip to a physical environment that would illustrate a particular theory the class was studying from an interdisciplinary approach.

“At first I was thinking of taking them to a zoo,” McLeod said, “until I read the announcement that the Archives had acquired the Norman Daly collection, at the heart of which was ‘The Civilization of Llhuros.’ I thought ‘Wow, that’s it. That’s what I’m going to do!’”


Student class at Archives investigates contents of boxes.

Norman Daly and the Oneida Stone

In 1958, Norman Daly, a Cornell art professor, entered a contest sponsored by the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. The assignment was to create a mural design for a new bank in Utica. It is likely that Daly, who had a deep regard for the art of native peoples, chose the mural’s theme –The Legend of the Oneida Stone. Daly’s entry was the winning design for which he received two cash prizes. No documentation has been found concerning a proposed size for the completed mural, but since a commission from the bank did not come through the mural was never executed.

Daly’s demo mural consisted of five contiguous panels, forming a 16 inch by 8 foot-4-inch long modello. The panels, stored in Daly’s residence, were recently found while archival preparations were undertaken. Efforts are underway to find a permanent home for the mural design.

Painting by Norman Daly consisting of three colorful 'panels' with mythical human and animal figures
‘Rain Prayers’ by Norman Daly | Oil on Canvas | 1947

Looking back over Daly’s life and work, it is significant that he chose a theme that represents the Oneida Nation and the Travels of the Oneida Stone. As an art student at the University of Colorado he had immersed himself in and acquired a life-long reverence for the art of the Native Americans of the Southwest, particularly the Pueblo Nations. Daly’s striking Southwest series of paintings (1945-48) is a substantial homage to the arts of Native peoples which Daly described as having made “splendid artistic contributions.” It seems perfectly fitting that through his mural design Norman Daly would honor one of New York State’s Native American Nations.


Rollins Museum to Exhibit ‘Bull and Cow’

EARLIER THIS YEAR, the Rollins Museum of Art in Winter Park, Florida acquired Norman Daly’s 1949 painting “Bull and Cow”. The donation was facilitated by Museum Exchange. Conservation of the painting was undertaken by West Lake Conservators. Crating and shipment arrangements were handled by Naglee Fine Arts.

Norman Daly's 'Bull and Cow' painting (1949) acquired by Rollins Museum of Art in 2022
“Bull and Cow” from the Mythical Animal series (1949)

We are happy to announce that the current Rollins Museum e-Newsletter announces an exhibition (January 14-April 2, 2023) of five new acquisitions which includes “Bull and Cow”, boldly featured on the newsletter’s front page. Aside from its use in educational programs at Rollins, the painting will likely be shown in context as part of themed exhibitions in the future.

Rollins Museum of Art displays a sustained commitment to acquiring works in various media and time periods, and by artists of diverse backgrounds, in alignment with their teaching mission and the curriculum of a liberal arts education.

Detail of Norman Daly's 'Bull and Cow' painting (1949) acquired by Rollins Museum of Art in 2022

Fictional Civilization Leaves Behind Lasting Legacy

Logo for the Cornell Chronicle
Graphic from video banner in original news story showing Norman Daly and Llhuroscian imagery.

By David Nutt
December 7, 2022

This fall, Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections acquired a trove of archival materials documenting the creation of this fictional society, giving researchers and historians a detailed view into a unique project that is both an absurdist critique of academic anthropology and an attempt to draw crucial connections between the past and the present, highlighting the challenges – spiritual, political and environmental – that all societies struggle to address.

“As an archivist, and someone who’s in charge of preserving the legacy of Cornell faculty, I saw right away that this was a collection that would be wonderful to have,” said Evan Earle ’02, M.S. ’14, the Dr. Peter J. Thaler ‘56 University Archivist. “It documents just one tiny little sliver of Cornell’s history. But it’s a fascinating one.”

Illustration of Llhuroscian landscape

The Llhuros Symposium Gets Real

Beauvais Lyons
Beauvais Lyons

On September 28, 2022, University of Tennessee Chancellor’s Professor Beauvais Lyons, coordinator of the upcoming Llhuros Symposium (October 8th) spoke to Todd Steed of station WUOT (University of Tennessee Public Radio) to discuss Norman Daly’s “Civilization of Llhuros”, as well as his own work. The interview lasts about 23 minutes and is well worth listening to.

The University of Tennessee School of Art hosted the very successful all-day virtual Llhuros Symposium on Saturday, October 8th to mark the the 50th anniversary of Norman Daly’s “Civilization of Llhuros.” Fifteen artists and scholars discussed this pioneering multimedia work of archaeological fiction.

L I S T E N  (23:00)

Note: The virtual symposium was recorded and will soon be available at the University of Tennessee School of Art Vimeo Site very soon. We’ll announce the availability.

UTK Prof. Beauvais Lyons

50 years ago, an artist convincingly exhibited a fake Iron Age civilization

Trallib (oil container) from the Middle Period of Llhuros, 1971. Photo by Marilyn Rivchin

Invented civilizations are usually thought of as the stuff of sci-fi novels and video games, not museums.

Yet in 1972, the Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art at Cornell University exhibited “The Civilization of Llhuros,” an imaginary Iron Age civilization. Created by Cornell Professor of Art Norman Daly, who died in 2008, the show resembled a real archaeological exhibition with more than 150 objects on display.

With scams, deceptions and lies flourishing in our digital age, an art exhibition that convincingly presents fiction as fact has particular currency.

Extracted from an extended article published by the Llhuros Symposium director, Beauvais Lyons for The Conversation, September 14, 2022.

We’re now looking ahead to the Llhuros (virtual) Symposium 2022. All are invited to attend.

An archival artifact--Trallib oil container -- from the Civilization of Llhuros

Art, Hoax, and Provocation

We’re delighted to report that Norman Daly’s renowned Civilization of Llhuros has been included in a new publication written and researched by Antoinette LaFarge, herself a “fictive-art” practitioner. The book presents a heavily illustrated survey of artist hoaxes, including impersonations, fabula, cryptoscience, and forgeries.

Stealthily occupying the remote corners of history, literature, and art are curious fabrications that straddle the lines between fact, fiction, and wild imagination — non-existent people and poets, Edgar Allan Poe’s hot-air-balloon to the Moon hoax, crypto-scientific objects like fake skeletons, psycho-geography, faked inventions, and staged anthropological evidence. From the intriguing Cottingley fairy photographs, “captured” in 1917 by teenage sisters, to the Museum of Jurassic Technology and the Codex Seraphinianus, an encyclopedia of an imaginary world, “fictive art” (the author’s term) continues to reframe assumptions made by its contemporaneous culture.

The shift from the early information age to our “infocalypse” era of rampant misinformation has made this genre of art with a sting in its tale an especially radical form. Cataloging historical projects and those from the late 20th and early 21st century that probe this confusion, LaFarge foregrounds the medium’s potential for run-away creativity. At its center, fictive art is secured as fact by creating series of evidentiary objects and by employing the language and display methods of history and science. Using documentary photographs and videos, created historical artifacts and relics, explanatory texts and didactics, lectures, events, and expert opinions in technical language, artists have created constellations of manufactured evidence attesting to their artwork’s central narrative. This dissimulation is temporary in most cases, often surprisingly revealed in a self-outing moment; other times, it is found out. With all the attendant consequences of mistrust, outrage, and rejection, what we can learn from fictive art practitioners both past and present bears on the fragile trust that builds societies, and that when broken, brings them to the brink of chaos.

Readers of A Sting in the Tale will be amused, delighted, and soberly engaged in thinking about what the role of art could be in shaping discord or discourse.

–Foreword by G. D. Cohen, artist, curator, and scholar of visual culture.

Antoinette LaFarge
Antoinette LaFarge

Antoinette LaFarge is an internationally recognized new media artist and founder of the pioneering Internet performance troupe the Plaintext Players who holds a special interest in speculative fiction, feminist techne, and alternative histories. Her artwork has taken form as new media performance, computer-programmed installations, public exhibitions and interventions, digital prints, and artist’s books. Recent publications include Louise Brigham and the Early History of Sustainable Furniture Design (Palgrave Macmillan 2019) and Monkey Encyclopedia W (ICI Press 2018). She is a longtime contributor to Wikipedia and is currently Professor of Digital Media in the Art Department at University of California, Irvine.

This title was released on August 24 and is now available for purchase.

Doppel House Press
Google Books
Barnes & Noble (free-shipping)