Ati Cachimuel Visiting Andean Artist this Spring

This spring, Ati Cachimuel, Ecuadorian-born Kichwa-Otavalo musician and composer, visited The Ohio State University (April 8-May 24, 2024) for an artist residency with the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) as part of the Performance and Technology Artistic one-year Residency Program under a Global Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme Centers Collaboration grant with ACCAD and the Center for Latin American Studies. Kawsay Ukhunchay had the opportunity to host Cachimuel and celebrate Andean artistry.

Kawsay Ukhunchay hosted Cachimuel at one of our team meetings where we introduced Ati to the Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Collection and our work. Ati participated in our conversations and was impressed by the fluid dynamic between students and faculty that allows for open discussions about cultural humility, Indigenous art and performance, and the type of interactions and relations we foster with Indigenous artists in an academic environment.

Our kawsay waqaychaqkuna (student curators) got to spend time with Ati in other ways, too. Whether showing him around campus, informing work in progress in ACCAD’s Motion Lab, or rehearsing and performing with him through their dual involvement in Kawsay Ukhunchay and the Andean Music Ensemble.

Much of Kawsay Ukhunchay’s involvement with Cachimuel’s residency came through student research in dialogue with Ati’s composition and the art of hosting, connecting him to the vibrant Andean Studies community at Ohio State. Ati arrived in time for the solar eclipse, and we traveled to the zone of totality in Dublin, Ohio for a group viewing of this once in a lifetime cosmic event.

We also visited Serpent Mound, a special site for Ati whose full name is Ati Amaru—the great serpent. And we had the privilege of traveling with him and 15 other participants to the Great Circle Mound in Heath, Ohio, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site in coordination with the Ohio Connection Newark Earthworks project, for Ati’s unplugged performance of Yana: An Andean Journey into Darkness at 5:00 a.m. as the night sky transitioned to light. During the residency, the kawsay waqaychaqkuna along with Quechua students and members of the Andean Music Ensemble also hosted a Peña Andina, a musical evening of music, food and conversation, to celebrate Ati’s residency. At the peña, Ati treated us to an impromptu performance and involved members of the Andean Music Ensemble in playing a few pieces including parts of the “unplugged” performance.

Ati’s residency culminated in an immersive, multimedia performance of Yana: An Andean Journey into Darkness. Ati’s musical composition emerged from his lived experiences and practices, and connected the audience to Andean concepts and aesthetics through a sensory experience involving music, sound, smell, animation and projections. Ati’s piece illustrated the realities of Andean communities living in connection with larger forces and time-spaces.

All of us at Kawsay Ukhunchay thank Ati Cachimuel for his involvement with our Collection during his residency. We are ever so grateful for the opportunity to foster connections between Andean artists both at OSU and abroad. Read more about Ati Cachimuel’s work here.

Student Research Publications on the Kawsay Ukhunchay Website

Congratulations to Makena Van Bourgondien, Jaylene Canales, Regina Loayza, Amani Stivland and Emily Taylor for the online publication of their research on Andean and Amazonian art for the SPA 4515 AU 2023 course on the Kawsay Ukhunchay Research Collection website!

These publications are an example of how excellent student research can go beyond the classroom to become an online teaching and research resource for broader publics.

To read these fascinating papers, please click here.

Kawsay Ukhunchay hosts Middle School Student Workshop

On April 15th, Kawsay Ukhunchay welcomed 19 middle school students and three teachers from Columbus Torah Academy to our Collection.

Their teacher, Hallie Fried, is an OSU alumnus and one of our most inspired and inspiring kawsay waqaychaqkuna (student researchers/curators),who we were delighted to see again along with her students!

The students enjoyed workshops connecting to indigenous art and storytelling aligned with their curricular unit on Latin America.  Kawsay Ukhunchay student researchers prepared ahead of time age-appropriate prompts, questions, and activities based on indigenous-inspired pedagogies.

Here is their amazing artwork in connection with their activities!

Thank you to the students of Columbus Torah Academy and our kawsay waqaychaqkuna past and present who helped make the class visit a success!

Kawsay Ukhunchay’s national traveling exhibit The Hidden Life of Things: Andean and Amazonian Cultural Artifacts and the Stories They Tell at the Wexner Center for the Arts

From Thursday, April 4th to Saturday, April 6th, the Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection had the privilege of displaying The Hidden Life of Things: Andean and Amazonian Cultural Artifacts and the Stories They Tell pop-up banners from our national traveling exhibit at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The display welcomed the public to the Anonymous Ensemble’s LIontop performance event at the Wexner Center. During the preshow Kawsay Ukhunchay curators greeted the public audience and mingled with the LIontop performers while enjoying traditional Andean food like chuño (freeze dried Andean potatoes), quinoa (amaranth superfood), mote (white corn), plantains, roasted corn, and empanadas before entering the Wexner Center’s Black Box Theater to see the show.

Kawsay Ukhunchay’s pop-up banners’ discussion of cultural artifacts and the stories they tell complemented the performance’s theme of “bridging divides between North and South America, honoring the people of the Andes, their language, culture, history, and future.” The show itself was in three parts. First, it featured a walkthrough of an interactive art installation featuring various displays of Peruvian heirlooms and artifacts. The audience could interact with the installation through individualized audio journeys meant to contextualize the poetry of Irma Alvarez-Ccoscco. 

When the performance began Alvarez-Ccoscco recited her song-poems to the audience in Quechua while English and Spanish translations scrolled across the screen where the Anonymous Ensemble’s signature “live film” aesthetic with multiple camera feeds, projections, a lush soundscape, and live instrumentals supported Alvarez-Ccoscco’s performance. Simultaneously, a live stream of the performance was made available to online audiences throughout the world. Alvarez-Ccoscco’s poetry spanned multiple generations and perspectives of Andean women throughout Quechua history. Following the performance, Alvarez-Ccoscco and the Anonymous Ensemble joined the audience for a conversation about the show.

The Collection was thrilled to help welcome the Anonymous Ensemble for their Ohio Premiere with our traveling exhibit and very grateful to the Wexner Center’s amazing staff for inviting our exhibition. For more information about the traveling exhibit please visit our website. Please reach out to Dr. Michelle Wibbelsman ( with any questions.

Kawsay Ukhunchay 2024 Open House was a success!

On Wednesday, March 27th Kawsay Ukhunchay Research Collection hosted our Open House! The event celebrated the Collection’s semester-long theme of “Storytelling Tapestries and Story Cloths” with food, tours, and an invited artist talk by Carlos Quispe Flores.

Invited artist and scholar Carlos Flore Quispe, son of Bolivian master weaver Mama Santusa Quispe, gave a talk about the significance of weaving in Andean indigenous cultures along with an explanation of the techniques behind the weaving process. Carlos brought storytelling tapestries made by his family and taught guests how to “read” them as alternative forms of literacy.

Over 50 event attendees ranging from Spanish and Quechua undergraduate and graduate students to professors and department administrators engaged with our kawsay waqaychaqkuna student researchers/curators who gave brief presentations on Panamanian mola appliques and carved wooden nuchucana, Panamanian Pre-Columbian ceramics, Andean textiles and storytelling boards (tablas de Sarhua), as well as African story cloths on loan from OSU’s Historical Costumes and Textiles Library.

The event was an opportunity to network, honor the work of student researchers for the Kawsay Ukhunchay Collection, celebrate our institutional collaborations with Denison Museum and OSU’s Historical Costumes and Textiles Library, welcome our invited artist and guest speaker, Carlos, and build community around an Integrated Research/Teaching /Learning Environment for Andean and Amazonian Studies.  

The event was supported by the Denison Museum, the OSU Historical Costumes and Textiles Collection, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Whitten Donation, our OSEP Ohio Sustainable Energy Partners Grant, and our wonderful student kawsay waqaychaqkuna. Thank you to everyone who came out to participate and engage in this event!

If you missed the Open House, you can still take advantage of the exhibition at OSU’s fingertips. These cultural artifacts will be on display until the end of the Spring 2024 semester. Please contact Professor Michelle Wibbelsman ( to schedule a visit to the collection as we continue to contribute to Ohio State’s student research opportunities and excellence!

Kawsay Ukhunchay welcomes OSU Alumnus Micah Unzueta back to the Collection

We are very excited to announce that OSU Spanish & Portuguese Alumnus Micah Unzueta is joining our kawsay waqaychaqkuna as a Research Consultant through June. After graduating from OSU, Unzueta earned a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English in Tumbes and Madre de Dios, Peru. Unzueta brings a unique set of skills and perspective to the project including a high level of proficiency in the Quechua language, experience with Kawsay Ukhunchay’s research and pedagogical methods, a focus on alternative approaches to both teaching and research, and a talent for collaborative interdisciplinary work.

Quechua Workshop led by Micah Unzueta

Among other projects, Unzueta will work to develop a full-scale Muyuchina (Quechua Verb Wheel)—an interactive language tool for both Quechua learners and non-Quechua speakers to explore Quechua morphology. For example, Quechua is an agglutinative language which means a speaker can alter a given root verb by using suffixes that provide additional information. Unzueta’s wheel demonstrates this interesting linguistic pattern by allowing users to turn the wheel to add or subtract suffixes thereby changing the root verb’s meaning.

To learn more about the Muyuchina Quechua Verb wheel, click here, and stay tuned for project updates. Welcome back, Micah!

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 To learn more about the Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Collection and this spring’s Storytelling theme visit or schedule a class visit with Michelle Wibbelsman (

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.”

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, or contact Professor Michelle Wibbelsman ( 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