Guest Curators

We want to say thank you to our outgoing Guest Curator Simon Bronner, Ph.D.! If you missed a chance to see his fantastic artifacts, please stop by the Guest Curator Archive Page. You can also examine all of our past Guest Curator’s as well.

Welcome to our Guest Curator, Ysamur Flores-Peña, Ph.D.!

Those folklorists who already know Ysamur Flores-Peña call him Sammy. This affectionate name reveals our appreciation for sharing his first-hand knowledge of Santería and other Afro-Caribbean religions. Now you can enjoy his background, too.


Ph.D., M.A. (Folklore and Mythology) UCLA; M.A. (Education) Catholic University of Puerto Rico; B.A. (Hispanic Studies) University of Puerto Rico.

Scholarly papers presented at UCLA’s Fowler Museum and the St. Louis Museum; Casa del Caribe, Cuba; Federal University in Bahia; Haifa University, and University of Calabria among other national and international venues.

“Peace and Justice, Love and Charity”: Puerto Rican Mesa Blanca

Spiritism arrived in Spain through the work and efforts of Amalia Soler and then traveled to the Western Hemisphere where it took different forms amalgamating in its ethos indigenous practices and ethnic needs. In Puerto Rico, the doctrine proposed by Alan Kardek took the name “Mesa Blanca” (White Table) in reference to the white cloth symbol of goodness that covers all altars where mediums work. I can say without a doubt that Spiritism or Espiritismo has become the true folk religion of the country and permeates all sectors of society.

Puerto Rican spiritual practice revolves around a group of spirits who represent the ethnic composition of the country and furthermore document the migration pattern into the region. The order of possession is very fixed: the “Indians” as the natives of the land open the séance and are much loved by all; next the Spaniards are represented by holy figures of the Catholic Church, and finally the Africans. These three are know as Las Tres Razas, (the Three Races) and constitute the foundational stone of the Puerto Rican ethos. After the aforementioned spirits are other entities such as the Chinese, the Arabs, Gypsies and lately some North Americans. The traditional greeting and answer is the title of this exhibit. All good, illuminated spirits will greet the congregation with “Peace and Justice” to which everyone answers “Love and Charity.” The social mandate of “La Obra” (the work), allows for the spirits. Issues such as teenage pregnancy, broken homes, drug abuse, domestic violence, etc. all fall within the incumbency of the practice. The Icons and prayers and the healing methods all serve a two fold purpose: Reinforce the folk notion of history and negotiate vernacular practices with social issues that many times are officially unreported but ritually solved.

For more information:

“Flowers, Candles, and Perfume: Puerto Rican Spiritism on the Move.” Botánica Los Angeles: Latino Popular Religious Art in the City of Angels. Los Angeles, Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 2004.

If you are a folklorist or a collector of folklore/popular culture artifacts, please consider becoming a Guest Curator. Your objects will be highlighted here on a rotating basis.

All we ask is that the objects be yours, you have a photograph of the objects, and all or most of the information about the object (see the guidelines below, for more details).

Guest Curator Guidelines:

1. Artifacts must fall within the subject of our website (folklore, folk art, popular culture, etc).

2. Artifacts must be a part of your own personal collection.

3. Submissions must be limited to no more than five artifacts.

4. Submissions must contain a photograph of the artifact, as well as the title, purpose, country of origin, culture , materials, and dimensions of the artifact.

5. We also would like your photograph and a brief biography to accompany the collection.

Please contact, and write Guest Curator in the subject line for further information or with any questions. We cannot wait to highlight your collection!