Visit from OSU Arts Scholars

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!

Arts Scholars and kawsay waqaychaqkuna

Emily Brokamp engages Arts Scholars in a conversation about the community project she led during our Open House

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.

“Large Canelos Quichua mucawa (drinking bowl) fully decorated from top to bottom inside. Made by Marta Vargas, Puyo, during a time in the early 1990s when she was obsessed by anaconda symbolism. The anaconda (amarun) motif of diamonds begins in the very bottom of the drinking bowl and ramifyies up and down, and is flanked by highly asymmetric anaconda designs.” -Dr. Norman Whitten.














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.

Fine etchings on the tiniest gourds compel attention to detail. In addition to the circular narrative structure of the calabacitas talladas, this aesthetic introduces the phenomenon of miniaturized representations found throughout the Andean region.


Visit from Indigo Gonzalez

Indigo Gonzalez, a Two-Spirit Afro-Indigeous Artist & Educator, visited with the kawsay waqaychaqkuna earlier this semester. We really enjoyed Indigo’s visit and engagement with our collection. You can learn more about Indigo and her work on her Instagram site: @indigotye

Department of Spanish and Portuguese Chair’s office

There is a new display of art and cultural artifacts from the Kawsay Ukhunchay collection in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese interim chair’s office!

Database development is underway

Our Graduate Research Associate, Tamryn McDermott, is developing a comprehensive and searchable database for our Kawsay Ukhunchay research collection. Tamryn has been photographing the objects, assembling information, and cataloging objects, books, music, and instruments. The database is being built using Airtable, one of the database systems used at The Ohio State University.

Below is a snapshot of what the database looks like. Each record can be clicked on to find more information on each object. This system allows us to save multiple images of each object, additional documents relating to the object, and add searchable key words and geographic locations. Our student research is being integrated into the database. Students will also have access to the database as a resource for future work with the collection.


Below are some examples of the photographs:

Congratulations To Our Autumn 2021 Whitten Scholarship Awardees!

Congratulations To Our Autumn 2021 Whitten Scholarship Awardees!

Each semester the exceptional work and research that student curators undertake with the newly renamed Kawsay Ukhunchay: Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Collection is recognized by way of the Whitten Andean & Amazonian Studies Scholarship.

This semester’s awardees, who work under the guidance of Faculty Curator Michelle Wibbelsman, are:

  • Cameron Logar (Major: Biochemistry; Minors: Spanish, Andean & Amazonian Studies)
  • Anna Freeman (Ph.D. Student in Arts Admin., Education and Policy)
  • Amanda Tobin Ripley (Ph.D. Student in Arts Admin., Education and Policy)
  • Hallie Fried (Majors: International Studies, Spanish; Minor: Public Policy)
  • Tamryn McDermott (Ph.D. Student in Arts Admin., Education and Policy)
  • Emily Brokamp (MA student in History)
  • Micah Unzueta (Major: Spanish; Minors: Andean & Amazonian Studies, Education, International Studies)

Recent alumna Kelly Tobin (Majors: English, Spanish; not pictured above) has also continued to work with the collection after graduation.

Professor Wibbelsman and the curators engage in a unique combination of research, teaching, and outreach. The team’s hard work and expertise were on full display at the October 5th Tukuypaq Open House, where they demonstrated their training as kawsay waqaychaqkuna by guiding attendees through the collection, offering Quechua language and Andean weaving workshops, and leading interactive community activities. Throughout the event, attendees were encouraged to decolonize their thinking about art and to consider the Indigenous approaches to knowledge that the student curators have been learning and adopting throughout the semester.

Cameron Logar describes the curatorial experience as one that shaped his worldview in important ways:

Through the collection, my eyes have been opened to a wealth of new perspectives towards concepts I once considered definitive. Ideas of time and space, nature and culture, and the spiritual and the material have all been subjects that I have gained new views on. I have had the fortune of discovering fields of study I had never heard of, and yet resonate perfectly with my interests.

Hallie Fried’s experience was also transformative, and her learning is ongoing:

[I have been] collaborating with other curators across varying disciplines to learn about not just Andean art, but South American culture, museum curation, Quechua, and indigenous worldviews […] From this, I was inspired to continue having dialogues with indigenous artists, educators, and activists. I became fascinated with the idea of decolonizing education and teaching through art.

Congratulations once again to our student curators!

The Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Collection is permanently housed in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in Hagerty Hall 255 and supported by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Center for Latin American Studies, and a generous private donation from Dr. Norman Whitten. To learn more about the collection please visit the AAAC website and the K’acha Willaykuna main website.

Visitors are welcome to touch and engage with our textiles!

We have designed a display of two Chumpi, or Faja, made by weaver Dõna Julia in Cuzco, Peru. This display allows visitors to feel some of our textiles outside of the glass case. These Chinchero multicolored belts inspired us to design an interactive station within our collection so that visitors could engage with the detailed designs and attempt to continue some of the patterning on the white board with colored markers in the small hanging shigra on the wall.


Micah Unzueta, one of our kawsay waqaychaqkuna, updates our collection whiteboard regularly with welcome messages in Quechua for visitors to the Hagerty 255 conference room and our Kawsay Ukhunchay collection! Thanks, Micah, for keeping this practice up and offering a warm welcome to visitors. We look forward to learning more of the ways to say Hello and offer a welcome in the Quechua language.

Community Organizing Center visit

Mark Stansbery brought a youth group from the Community Organizing Center in Columbus, Ohio for a tour and workshops on the evening of November 3rd. Visitors participated in workshops making Retablo figures from clay, made brushes out of hair, engaged with the Quechua language, viewed backstrap weaving in progress, and interacted with Indigenous art and cultural artifacts from our Kawsay Ukhunchay. The visit culminated with our feedback gourds!