Let’s Just Talk with Hallie Fried

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. 

Hallie Fried

*Update: Check out the archive of previous “Let’s Just Talk” episodes here!