Princeton NJ -- John Pohl, an authority on American Indian civilizations, has been named the first Peter Jay Sharp Curator and Lecturer in the Art of the Ancient Americas at the University Art Museum. He succeeds Gillett Griffin, faculty curator of pre-Columbian and Native American art.
Pohl has published extensively on subjects ranging from human origins to the rise of the Aztec empire. He also has directed numerous archaeological excavations and surveys in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. His specialization is the ancient art of the Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec civilizations of highland Mexico, particularly deciphering ancient pictographic writing systems.
''John Pohl brings to Princeton a stunning variety of accomplishments,'' said Susan Taylor, director of the art museum. ''He is a highly regarded teacher and scholar, which is an ideal combination for the museum where the study and interpretation of the collection is a priority. We are indebted to the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation for making this appointment possible.''
The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation was established in 1984 to fund programs in education and the arts. Sharp, a member of Princeton's class of 1952, was a real estate developer and hotelier who was a member of the museum's advisory council from 1987 until his death in 1992.
Pohl is noted for bringing the ancient past to life using a wide variety of innovative skills and techniques. His unusual background in archaeology, art history and media production has taken him from museum exhibition design at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to the entertainment industry, where he won a CLIO Award for his television animation design.
In addition to teaching in the Department of Art History at the University of California at Los Angeles and serving there as research associate at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History for eight years, Pohl worked as a production designer for Dreamworks and served as a writer and producer for the CBS television documentary series on American Indian history, ''500 Nations.'' A graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., he received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in archaeology from UCLA.