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 (wibbelsman.1@osu.edu) 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 Hosts Workshop for English Department’s Creative Writing Class

On Tuesday, February 20th the Kawsay Ukhunchay Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection hosted a workshop for the Department of English’s Introduction to Poetry Writing course taught by Senior Lecturer, Zoë Brigley Thompson.

The Collection’s Andean and Amazonian artifacts were an entry point for discussions of the versatility of form in capturing and conveying stories, and indigenous storytelling practices that disrupt linear narrative conventions. After the workshop, Brigley Thompson asked her class to write poems based on the artifacts and conversation.

Molas, garments traditionally made by women among indigenous Guna communities located in Panama, on loan from Denison Museum; story gourds carved with spiraling narratives of indigenous Andean everyday practices and symbols; South American storytelling tapestries; and African storycloths on loan from the OSU Historical Costumes and Textiles Collection inspired the poets to consider the interaction of form, space, time, directionality, perspective, movement and transformation when constructing their poems.

One of our Kawsay waqaychaqkuna, Victor Vimos, graduate student in the doctoral program in SPPO at OSU, whose research focuses on the Andean zone and poetics, emphasized the importance of becoming a reader of cultural materials like a reader of a poem.

It was a pleasure to host the class, and the Kawsay Ukhunchay Collection looks forward to integrating some of the student poems into the exhibitions this semester. If you or your class would like to schedule a workshop please contact, Michelle Wibbelsman at wibbelsman.1@osu.edu.

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!