Kawsay Ukhunchay Collection Collaborates with the Historical Costumes and Textiles Collection on the Theme of Storytelling Tapestries

This spring the Kawsay Ukhunchay Collection received a loan of storytelling tapestries and story cloths from the Historical Costumes and Textiles Collection. HCTC curator Gayle Strege joined the Kawsay Ukhunchay student curators to install these items in Hagerty Hall 255 for our semester-long collaboration and theme on Storytelling Tapestries.

Perhaps the most exciting piece on loan from HCTC is a Peruvian tapestry that depicts the story of Tupac Amaru II, 18th century Inka rebel leader, and the Inkarrí myth which foretells the return of the last Inka ruler. Through intricate weaving and symbolic images, the tapestry tells the story of Tupac Amaru’s violent execution by the Spanish in 1781. Beheaded and quartered in the main plaza of Cuzco, Tupac Amaru is depicted being pulled apart by four horses. (Tupac Amaru I suffered a similar fate). The myth of the Inkarrí, also inscribed in the tapestry, prophesizes that when the Inka’s body rejoins with the head, this will mark an overturning of time-space and the return of the last Inka to restore the world order.

Both historical details and mythic time are inscribed in Andean storytelling tapestries such as these, demonstrating the versatility and depth of this storytelling form in the Andes and throughout the world.

Other storytelling tapestries include an embroidered Salvadorean narrative of protest against the United States on a sugar cane sack during the El Salvadoran Civil War, 1980-1992 donated to HCTC by the Center for Folklore Studies; two Fon King Cloths from Benin and Dahoney, Africa; and a cotton print from Ghana.  

For more information on the Historical Costumes and Textiles Collection at OSU visit https://costume.osu.edu. To learn more about the Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Collection and this spring’s Storytelling theme visit https://u.osu.edu/aaac/ or schedule a class visit with Michelle Wibbelsman (wibbelsman.1@osu.edu).

Hipolito Mamani’s Children on Display in Hagerty Hall 298

In 2023, Dr. John Pierce from Tucson, Arizona placed in the care of Ohio State’s Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection a series of six paintings by Hipolito Mamani, the son of a second-order healer (curandero) from Cuzco, Peru. Mamani said the paintings represented his father’s visions of ancestors who return every 100 years. Mamani called the paintings his “children.”

Undergraduate student, Cassilyn Blair (class of 2023), took on the challenge of researching this artist for a class on Andean Art, Culture and Society, and this spring, drawing on Cassie’s insights, student researchers for the Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection installed these paintings in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese main office in Hagerty Hall 298.

Camay, an Andean Quechua verb that signals “something infused with energy” helps us to grasp this concept of living art as a relationally interconnected entity and to understand why Mamani considers these art pieces his children. They are living beings brought into presence through creation.

Born in the district of Pablo-Sichuan, Peru, Hipolito Mamani traveled as a teenager to Cusco to study painting at the Escuela Regional de Bellas Artes Diego Quispe Tito. Various techniques in Mamani’s art connect his work back to pre-Columbian Andean styles and to shamanism and shamanic art, replete with multivalent imagery, recurrent themes, and repeating motifs (Stone, The Jaguar Within, 2012, pg. 53). Some of the motifs include rainbows and sacred birds, like macaws, hummingbirds and owls, all of which act as messengers between the human and spiritual realms. The amaru (mythic anaconda) and felines such as jaguars are also recurring themes in Andean art.

Although Hipolito Mamani is a contemporary artist, he has an obscure online footprint, which made Cassie’s research all the more challenging. Information for this exhibition draws on Blair’s important research and unique vision as an artist herself.

Based on her own shapeshifting art, Cassie envisioned this installation with use of LED color transition lights to demonstrate and enhance the transitory aspect of Mamani’s images. Mamani’s paintings have a multidimensional essence, meaning rotating the paintings or observing them under different light can alter the viewer’s perception of the images. Different colors and aspects of each painting stand out depending on the color of the lighting, creating a transformational piece with concealed meaning and hidden coding. The more you look, and most importantly, the different ways you look, the more you see.

The installation process involved adopting Blair’s research and unique vision to highlight the painting’s multivalent style. 

Feel free to stop by Hagerty Hall 298 to see these stunning paintings!

Kawsay Ukhunchay Collection Collaborates with Denison Museum to Bring Exhibition of Panamanian Molas to OSU

This spring, as part of an institutional collaboration with Denison University Museum, the Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection’s display in Hagerty Hall 255 features a collection of Panamanian molas (handmade Guna garments traditionally made and worn by women) along with Guna nuchukana (carved wooden figures known to have healing powers). These items on loan from Denison Museum complement our semester-long theme on Storytelling Tapestries. Previously, this collection of molas was part of a year-long exhibition at the Cleveland Museum, titled “Fashioning Identity: Mola Textiles of Panama.” https://denison.edu/places/museum/wh/134629

Molas, which translates to “shirts” in Guna, are traditionally worn by women and feature vibrant colors and complex, handmade appliques whose designs depict flowers, birds, reptiles, and animals. Some of the designs on loan feature Guna mythology, geometric abstractions of important geographical motifs like mountains, or political epicenters like town halls. Others reveal elements of religious and social syncretism with references to Christian stories as illustrated books about Christianity and Bibles were both popular and widely available to mola makers in the 1960s.

The molas were donated to Denison University by Dr. Clyde Keeler (Denison Class of 1923). Keeler was a geneticist studying albinism among Guna populations. He acquired a large collection of Guna material during his many research trips and donated most of his collection to Denison Museum.

Molas became a symbol of Guna (Kuna) culture and political protest during the San Blas Rebellion in 1925 (also known as ‘La Revolución Tule’ or the Kuna Revolution), when Guna people rose up in opposition to national impositions by the Panamanian government including efforts to “Westernize” and “nationalize” Guna culture. During this time, the government forbade Guna women from wearing molas. The women insisted on wearing their molas as an act of defiance which solidified their bravery and opposition to national assimilation efforts. Molas since then have increasingly taken on depictions of national struggle, Guna political participation, and social transformation.

The Kawsay Ukhunchay Collection’s external OSEP grant (Ohio Sustainable Energy Partners) in 2023-2024 has enabled productive institutional collaborations such as the one with Denison Museum along with research opportunities for students at both campuses and broader exposure to campus-wide and general publics. The display, located in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in Hagerty Hall 255 also features a loan of storytelling tapestries and story cloths from OSU’s Historical Costumes and Textiles Collection and a collection of pre-Columbian Panamanian ceramics acquired through the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

Take advantage of this unique exhibition at Ohio State this spring and stop by Hagerty Hall 255, visit our website https://u.osu.edu/aaac/, or contact Professor Michelle Wibbelsman (wibbelsman.1@osu.edu) to schedule a visit as we continue to celebrate and contribute to Ohio State’s student research opportunities, public engagement, and diversity efforts!

Kawsay Waqaychaqkuna visit the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library

On Wednesday, January 31st student researchers for the Kawsay Ukhunchay Research Collection visited the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library to retrieve a donation of Panamanian ceramics. On this occasion, Dr. Eric Johnson, Director of Special Collections, also brought some of the Library’s Latin American and Indigenous holdings.

These included early Colonial religious and catechetical books written in Spanish and Quechua, facsimiles of pre-Columbian Maya codices, and even a Quechua translation of Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote de La Mancha whose art transposes Quixote’s exploits to the Andean landscape!

The visit sparked conversations about the importance of properly storing artifacts and how storage conditions differ between ceramic items and books. Interestingly, some of the oldest books, around 300-400 years old were designed to be durable and appeared to be in better condition than magazines from the 1960s. Dr. Johnson informed us that this is due to the books’ production which used rag paper rather than the acid-treated paper popular between 1850-1960.

Image credit: Rare Books & Manuscripts Library, The Ohio State University Libraries (BX1966.Q4 C38 1773); 

Bartholomé de las Casas

Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art Collection Opens at Denison University Museum this Spring 2024!

On Friday, January 19, Denison Museum held the opening event for three galleries on Andean and Amazonian culture including Ohio State’s Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art Collection!

Our exhibition, and the student research that supports it, complemented Denison University professor Micaela de Vivero’s latest installation, “Mining the Qhapaq Ñan,” and Pamela Cevallos’s “Unarchive the Museum: Archaeological Collections and Replicas from Ecuador” for a rich thematic coherence that showcased Andean and Amazonian art and culture.

Denison University Dance professor Marion Ramirez did a performance that interacted with Micaela de Vivero’s khipus-inspired art to a soundtrack created by sound engineer Matthew Dixon with recordings of chakchas (goats hooves rattles) and a jalinga (ceremonial shoulder belt) from the Kawsay Ukhunchay Collection.

The opening event also included delicious traditional Andean food like plantains, tostones and ceviche as well as student-led musical groups,

drawing a diverse audience of 80-100 people over the course of the evening.

From our decolonial perspective and research efforts, we were excited to see the Collection’s artifacts displayed outside of traditional glass cases. We got to watch as event attendees interacted with the items unobstructed and unmediated by glass. It also felt like the items in our care were part of the event, mingling with the visitors and partaking in this festive occasion! We truly enjoyed answering questions about the collection and communing with Denison University students and faculty! 

Denison University Museum will have the Collection’s artifacts on display until May 10th and our Kawsay Ukhunchay team will hold workshops and events throughout the semester as part of this collaboration with Denison Museum, so please come out to see the exhibition or arrange a class visit. You can find more information about the exhibit and upcoming talks and workshops through Denison University’s website here.

Our collaboration with Denison Museum is part of Kawsay Ukhunchay’s implementation of an external grant (OSEP—Ohio Sustainable Energy Partners) awarded to help grow our Collection through research, broader exposure, and institutional collaboration.

On the other end of this exchange, Denison University Museum has loaned us an exquisite collection of Panamanian molas, elaborate embroidered panels, and nuchukana, carved wooden figures with healing powers.

Keep an eye out for this upcoming display in Hagerty Hall 255 as part of a Storytelling Tapestries theme also in collaboration with OSU’s Historical Costumes and Textiles Collection and Rare Books and Manuscripts Library as we continue to celebrate and contribute to Ohio State’s student research opportunities and excellence!

Kawsay Ukhunchay Curator Wins 2023-2024 Savko Undergraduate Research Grant

A big congratulations to Anais Fernandez Castro, who was recently rewarded with the Savko Undergraduate Research Grant!! Her proposal, “Exploring Religion Through the Lens of Colonial Latin America,” is an ongoing collaborative project with some of her peers that came to fruition while taking History 3100-Colonial Latin American History. Her project will examine the dynamic religious histories taking place during the Colonial period to construct a collaborative anthology that will take shape as a zine. She hopes to create a reference guide for those interested in Religion and Latin American history and encourages us to keep an eye out for when it comes out in a physical form!

Victor Vimos Presents at the Rubén Darío Symposium at the University of Notre Dame

This autumn Victor Vimos presented at the Rubén Darío Symposium at the University of Notre Dame. His presentation drew in part on research on Rituality and Poetry he carries out in the context of the Kawsay Ukhunchay weekly working group. Victor’s analysis for this paper delved into the poetry book Cantos de Vida y Esperanza (1905) by Rubén Darío, looking further into the crisis the poet experiences in the face of the sacred and the action he takes to try to overcome it. Victor’s inquiry centered on Darío’s use of a conceptual conversion of time and space to propose hope as a link of meaning with art. This, Victor argues, signals a ritual turn in its relationship with poetry since it includes cycles of renewal and the expansion of a modern paradigm in which the idea of the sacred tends to become more heterogeneous.

Congratulations to Victor for this exciting contribution to the Symposium!

“Pukllay Pampa: Andean-inspired Time-Spaces for Learning and Unlearning” Article Published!

For the past year, Michelle Wibbelsman and Anaís Fernandez Castro have worked on an article that attempts to capture some of the alternative pedagogies and practices of the Kawsay Ukhunchay Collective. This collaboration started out as a panel presentation at the 2022 Curriculum and Pedagogy Conference in State College, PA, where Anaís was the only undergraduate panelist at the conference. Feedback from participants at that presentation encouraged them to develop their paper toward a publishable article.  

The article titled “Pukllay Pampa: Andean-inspired time spaces for learning and unlearning” came out in published form in October in the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy! With support from OSU Libraries it is now available online with open-access 

Co-author Anais Fernandez Castro shares some of her thoughts on the experience: 

“I am so grateful to have been able to work alongside Dr. Michelle Wibbelsman. This has been a real catalyst for my academic journey! First, I was part of a panel with Dr. Wibbelsman and Amanda Tobin Ripley (Doctoral student in the Arts Administration, Education and Policy Department), which allowed me to experience conferences from the point of view of presenters. This was the start of really understanding collaboration in academic research projects and allowed me to gain skills that I am now using in my more recent research. After the long hours of work to now seeing the project in published form, I can’t help but be proud of the work I am doing and, prior to this experience, really had no idea that I could do it. This mentorship has allowed me to understand the innerworkings of research rigor culminating in a publication, shedding light on the kind of work I might be interested in pursuing further as I continue my academic journey.” 

Congratulations to Michelle and Anais on this article and for their many contributions to Andean and Amazonian Studies at OSU! 


Kareen Darwich, Undergraduate in Health Sciences Joins the Kawsay Ukhunchay Team

We welcome Kareen Darwich as a new member of our team! She is a third-year undergraduate Health Sciences student, hoping to pursue dentistry. She comes from a science background and is eager to implement this into her undergraduate thesis. Upon joining the team, Kareen remarked upon the contrast between her structured courses in the hard sciences to the alternative learning and unlearning space of the Kawsay Ukhunchay collective. Her Spanish minor and this new dynamic influenced her to pursue work with the Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection.

In her early weeks as a researcher/curator, she dove into Andean and Amazonian journals, books, and articles on health and wellness from the perspective of indigenous cultures. Other members of the group helped with references and sources that could potentially inform her project. After weeks of searching, the mental and physical maturation a girl goes through as she embarks on womanhood sparked her interest.

As of now, Kareen is researching ways in which indigenous girls are welcomed into the next stage of life. She is exploring the many rituals and beliefs surrounding the changes girls go through during puberty. A series of rare Tukuna bark-cloth pieces from southeast Colombia amond our Collection holdings specifically pertain to girls’ rite-of-passage ceremonies, where the transition from girlhood to womanhood becomes a metaphor for the social well-being of the community. Kareen is also immersing herself in reading about recipes centered on the consumption of guinea pigs during this phase of development, as well as the relationship of women’s cycles with the moon and its phases, which also connects significantly to lunar observations for both agricultural and cultural practices. We look forward to this unfolding research that connects Andean and Amazonian studies, art, and health and wellness!



Kawsay Ukhunchay has its own CV!

As we reflect on our unique model of collaboration, which is experimental, unstructured and purposefully not a class, we have come to wonder what sustains our productivity as a group. 

After all, in this space of learning and unlearning we do not operate according to typical institutional incentives or pressures for academic production. There are no grades or objective assessments, no prescribed outcomes or expectations for producing results or final products, no teacher/student hierarchies, no defined timeframe for development, no tests, no assigned readings, not even a requirement for regular attendance. And yet, participants keep showing up regularly, contributing to projects in self-motivated ways, engaging with our collaborative endeavor, investing significant time, and, in fact, producing more, and often more meaningful work than students in a typical classroom, undergraduate or graduate alike.

We continue to ponder and also celebrate the conspicuous productivity enabled by research approaches centered on playfulness, relationality, interdisciplinary collaboration, emergent processes and critical inquiry.

We are excited to share Kawsay Ukhunchay’s collective CV!   Collection CV 2023 update