Andean Crafts & Alternative Narratives

On temporary loan from the private collection Michelle Wibbelsman, 2015. Calabazas talladas or etched story gourds appear throughout the Andes. The items in this particular collection were purchased either in the Otavalo open market or at Galerías Latinas.

Story gourds depict specific events, often embedded in a dense context of simultaneous, overlapping activities. The tactile, sonorous, organic nature of the gourd prompts us to “read” the piece using multiple senses. The spherical shape of the gourds, moreover, invites us to turn the piece in our hands and presents us with a non-linear narrative structure that has no clear beginning, middle, or end. Fine etchings on the tiniest gourds compel attention to detail as part of the Andean aesthetic and introduce the phenomenon of miniaturized representations found throughout the Andean region.