Gayle Strenge (pictured above on the left) invited us to explore Latin American textiles in the Ohio State Historic Costume and Textiles Collection, including rare Nazca textiles (pictured below).
We were also able to view a storytelling tapestry from Cuzco, Peru up close (see below). This tapestry depicts the rebel leader Tupac Amaru being quartered by four Spanish horses in the main plaza of Cuzco to suppress massive indigenous rebellions against colonial powers in the 16th through 18th centuries. There were three rebel leaders who all suffered the same fate– Tupac Amaru I in 1572 (Cuzco), Tupac Amaru II (Cuzco) and Tupac Katari (La Paz) in 1781. To confirm if it is Tupac Amaru I or II in this tapestry, we would have to do more research. (Amaru and Katari in Quechua and Aymara respectively refer to the mythic anaconda and the myth of Inkarí, the foretelling of the return of the last Inka king to restore proper order to the world).
Last year, the Kawsay Ukhunchay had the opportunity to talk with the artist who made a tapestry that we recently purchased for our collection. The tapestry, made by master weaver Mama Santusa Quispe de Flores, is a Bolivian storytelling tapestry that tells a folk story of a partridge and a fox. Working alongside another kawsay waqaychaqkuna, Micah Unzueta, we were able to get in touch with Mama Santusa through her son, Carlos Quispe, and set up a time for a Zoom interview.
Our first step was to come up with a list of all of the general topics that we wanted to discuss during our interview, and what we wanted to get out of our conversation. We crafted a detailed outline for the interview, including a full script for the introduction, and well thought-out questions written in English, and then translated into Spanish and Quechua. As a third-year Spanish major without study abroad experience, I was beyond nervous for the interview, knowing that I may miss out on parts due to my lack of colloquial Spanish. As we sat down for the interview in our small office at Hagerty Hall, we ran through our introduction and made sure we weren’t forgetting anything.
Shortly, the Zoom interview began, and everything we had prepared beforehand became rather unnecessary for our conversation with Mama Santusa. We asked her an initial question about her life, and she took the question and ran with it. Before we knew it, an hour had passed by, and what we approached as a formal interview turned into a familial-like conversation between the four of us on the Zoom video call. Mama Santusa called the meeting to an end as Carlos turned their camera around for us to look out their window and see the animals coming in for the day, which signaled the end of our conversation. While we didn’t get to ask Mama Santusa everything we were curious about, our conversation was so much more than we could have ever expected.
It was with this change in the interview from a formal meeting to a friendly conversation that sparked my interest in really pursuing a podcast. We realized that there was a much greater potential for discourse and stronger relationships through these informal conversations. This applies directly to an idea that we discuss within the Kawsay Ukhunchay in which coming into educational or informative spaces with concrete goals might limit us from expanding our potential for exploration.
With this, I sought out Andean and Amazonian Indigenous artists and educators as well as local indigenous artists/educators to have more informal conversations about their work, art, and/or experiences. Now, we are working to create and curate a podcast that will include both video recordings and audio recordings from different kinds of spaces, including Zoom interviews, in-person interviews, audio recorded from our workspace through my IPhone, and audio recorded in a high-tech podcast studio.
This podcast has brought insight to the Kawsay Ukhunchay on the different variables that come into play in building relationships and creating a podcast, including physical space, comfort levels, language barriers, geographical location, and more.
We are beyond excited to release the first few episodes of our podcast “Let’s Just Talk” very soon.
*Update: Check out the archive of previous “Let’s Just Talk” episodes here!
Last March, I visited Chinese-American poet Arthur Sze, who has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for more than forty years. Sze is the owner of an extensive body of work that brings together more than a dozen poetry books, in which he has extensively explored different views of poetic experience, language, and the intersections that the poem has with the divinatory, the mystical, the experimental, the rhythmic.
Among his works, the book entitled QUIPU puts into dialogue his vision of the poetic experience with the Quipu, developed by the Incas and which has been widely explored as an object that, at the same time, allows different types of readings and references.
The objective of this travel was to develop, together with Arthur Sze, a conversation that would allow us to see how, from a poetic experience in another latitude, space, language, time, a dialogue can be put together with a cultural element from the Andean zone. In addition, Sze allowed me to get to know his work file on Quipu, and the ties that he makes in his research with similar devices used in China, showing that the bridges of cultural dialogue and poetic creation allow reconfiguring scenarios and expanding forms of reflection around different moments. historical and cultural.
This month the Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection partnered with STEAM Factory to bring two creative member engagement activities to STEAM members. Kawsay waqaychaqkuna (those who safeguard, keep and preserve with cariño and care) worked together to prepare 50 embroidery and doodle kits for engaging in Andean-inspired practices of making/doing while thinking/talking to shake up interactions during Zoom meetings.
Embroidery in the Andes dates back almost 10,000 years with some of the most elaborate examples of embroidery and textile techniques emerging from Paracas and Nasca cultures. Embroidery captures the notion of embodied experiences of learning by doing. Moreover, kawsay waqaychaqkuna observed that in the Andes, folks typically accompany any type of conversation, reflection or personal interaction with making or doing something with their hands, whether it be weaving, embroidering, shucking corn or sorting grains.
Claire McLean, graduating senior majoring in Spanish, spearheaded the project initiative drawing on this inspiration from Andean cultures which presents a way of mediating dialogue. Cameron Logar, undergraduate major in Biochemistry with minors in Spanish and Andean and Amazonian Studies, supported the project with in-depth research on embroidering traditions in the Andes, dying techniques, and color symbolism.
The Stitching Our Community Back Together project invites STEAM Factory members to engage in this making/doing while thinking/talking activity using a patch of cloth from something meaningful to them during the pandemic shutdown (a pair of jeans or sweatpants worn during COVID isolation, a special blanket, a favorite t-shirt) for the backdrop. In autumn 2022 we will gather everyone’s embroidery pieces and patch them together in a collective quilt as a celebration of our togetherness during our time apart!
For those looking for a slightly more accessible engagement opportunity, we proposed our Doodles project. Alice Cheng, doctoral student in Arts Administration, Education and Policy, conceived of the activity as a series of doodle prompts that folks could continue working off of to keep the body active and the mind creatively engaged while we dialogue on Zoom meetings.
As we contend with disembodied talking heads in Zoom squares, this low stakes and easy access doodling activity emphasizes movement as embodied knowledge and connects to Andean practices of doing/making while thinking/talking. Most importantly, doodling expresses joy, imagination, play, fun! It potentially helps us focus on conversations, keeps us from checking our email! and provides conversations starters as we bridge the online distance until we meet together in person again.
As we collaborated on this activity, kawsay waqaychaqkuna reflected on the significance of lines and patterns as “pathways of knowledge” among Indigenous communities in the Andes and Amazonia. (It is the mythic rainbow-colored anaconda, an embodiment of Sungui the first shaman, that passes to humans their ability to make designs. All possible designs exist virtually in the skin of the anaconda. These designs in turn provide the structure and conditions for generating all conceivable forms). As with the embroidery project, we plan to collect doodles and stitch them together in the form of a collective piece for display at the STEAM Factory.
Our interdisciplinary team of researchers worked together to present these kits at the March STEAM Exchange. Kawsay waqaychaqkuna will follow up with a tutorial on embroidering, concepts of preciousness in the Andes, and making/thinking models for STEAM Factory members in April!
Each semester, the Kawsay Ukhunchay: Andean & Amazonian Indigenous Art & Cultural Artifacts Research Collection is supported by the hard work and scholarship of an interdisciplinary cohort of undergraduate and graduate student curators. These students’ efforts are recognized with the Whitten Andean & Amazonian Studies Scholarship, a $500 award made possible by a generous donation from Dr. Norm Whitten.
CLAS is proud to announce the Spring 2022 recipients of this award:
- Alice Cheng
- Hallie Fried
- Cameron Logar
- Tamryn McDermott
- Claire McLean
- Amanda Tobin Ripley
- Micah Unzueta
- Victor Vimos Vimos
These kawsay waqaychaqkuna (those who safeguard, keep, and preserve with care), work under the guidance of Professor Michelle Wibbelsman to maintain the collection, develop outreach programs, and conduct original research on the artifacts.
Sutiy Micah Unzueta. Kawsay Ukhunchaypi epistemología Quechua ñisqawanpis simiwanpis llamk’ayta munarini. Primavera 2021mantapacha Kawsay Ukhunchaymanta waqaychaqkunawan llamk’achkanipis. Achka jinapis sumaq iñikunata ukhunchachkayku. Ñuqapaq, sumaq kanman sichus Quechuantinta epistemología andina ñisqamanta kawsaynintapis ukhunchayta munani.
Kaypi chawpi llamk’ayniy proyectoy kachkan:
Jinapis, Quechua linguisticsninmantata Quechua kawsanamantapis yachayta munayman.
Several of us attended an online Quechua Pom-pom + Tassel workshop yesterday organized by the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in collaboration with Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco. Indigenous Peruvian weavers Yessica Sallo Auccacusi and Rosa Pumayalli Quispe led us in the process of creating multi-colored tassels and pom-poms.
About the Artisans – Yessica Sallo Auccacusi and Rosa Pumayalli Quispe work with the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco in Peru. The Center works to practice, sustain, and revive ancestral weaving styles, natural dye techniques, and textile designs. The nonprofit organization works with ten weaving communities from the Cusco region: Accha Alta, Acopia, Chahuaytire, Chinchero, Mahuaypampa, Huacatinco, Patabamba, Pitumarca, Santa Cruz de Sallac, and Santo Tomas (Smithsonian Folklife Festival website).
Below is a peek into our experience with Yessica and Rosa!
On the evening of December 1, 2021 we hosted a group of OSU Arts Scholars and engaged in both a tour of the collection and several hands-on activities. Thanks to Roman Suer for working with us to set up this experience for the Arts Scholars!
Visitors and kawsay waqaychaqkuna participated in creating small retablo-like sculptures, inspired by two of our retablos in the collection.
Students were also inspired by the Canelos Quichua Ceramics collection and used their own hair to create paintbrushes. They worked to understand the delicate and precise lines that artists such as Marta Vargas paints on ceramic surfaces.
At the culmination of the evening, Arts Scholars engaged with our interactive gourd feedback station and left messages for the collection. The format for our feedback station is inspired by many of the story gourds in the collection.