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




Our Traveling Exhibition Takes Flight!

Hello, art enthusiasts and cultural aficionados! We are thrilled to share an exciting update from the Kawsay Ukhunchay: Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection at Ohio State University. Our extraordinary exhibition, featuring captivating Latin American masks and stunning photographs of Diablada de Píllaro (Devil Dance of Píllaro) in the Ecuatorian province of Tungurahua taken by Ohio State Multimedia Journalism Lecturer Leonardo Carrizo, has been on a remarkable journey, expanding its horizons.

After a year of wowing audiences at OSU, we felt compelled to extend the reach of this inclusive collection, allowing even more people to experience the rich tapestry of Latin American art and heritage. Thus, we embarked on an ambitious venture —a traveling exhibition that would bring our treasures to diverse art enthusiasts far and wide.

So, where is our exhibition now, you may ask? We are delighted to announce that our collection has found a new temporary home at the University of Wisconsin! This institution will host our exhibition for the next two years, ensuring that countless individuals have the opportunity to revel in the beauty and significance of Latin American culture.

Of course, getting our cherished artifacts to their new destination presented a set of challenges that required careful planning and consideration. Our curators worked tirelessly to overcome these obstacles and ensure the safe transit of each delicate mask and photograph.

“Choosing the perfect inside and outside shipping boxes and meticulously measuring the masks was a truly fascinating and unique process for me. It allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate craftsmanship and cultural significance of each artifact”, one curator shared.

Now, we eagerly await the University of Wisconsin’s arrival to complete the next chapter of our exhibition’s incredible journey. Stay tuned for more updates as our exhibition continues its awe-inspiring voyage, captivating hearts and minds.


Congratulations To Our Spring 2023 Whitten Scholarship Awardees!


SP23 Student Curators

Each semester the exceptional work and research that student curators undertake with the Kawsay Ukhunchay: Andean & Amazonian Indigenous Art & Cultural Artifacts Research Collection is recognized through the awarding of the Whitten Andean & Amazonian Studies Scholarship.

Student curators in the exhibit

This semester’s awardees, who work under the guidance of Faculty Curator and Professor Michelle Wibbelsman, are (left to right):

  • Victor Vimos (PhD Student in Latin American Cultural & Literary Studies)
  • Shima Karimi (PhD Student in Latin American Cultural & Literary Studies)
  • Anais Fernandez (Majors: Political Science and Spanish)
  • Cameron Logar (Major: Biochemistry)
  • Tamryn McDermott (PhD Student in Arts Admin., Education, & Policy)

Learn more about these dedicated kawsay waqaychaqkuna (those who safeguard, keep and preserve with cariño and care) here.

Wibbelsman and the curators engage in a unique combination of research, teaching, and outreach. Much of their work in Spring 2023 was centered on the Dancing with Devils: Latin American Masks Traditions exhibition in the Barnett Center Collaboratory, which has just come to a close after a full academic year as a campus hub for interdisciplinary academic and outreach programming.

In addition to activities directly connected to the Dancing with Devils exhibition, each curator has actively pursued individual projects that relate to the Collection.

As Tamryn McDermott prepares for her final year of dissertation work, her development of an AirTable database for the Collection has informed her research in Art Education in significant ways:

I consistently find myself integrating ideas from my experiences with the Collection. […] It is exciting to me to have had time over the past two years to explore and work with the collection in ways that are now informing decisions about my own dissertation project.

Tamryn has also worked with Wibbelsman this semester to develop exchange partnerships with Denison University. She looks forward to seeing how curators and educational programming designers at Denison will display and contextualize objects from the Collection in new ways.

Anais Fernandez’s projects this semester have included transcribing an interview about quipus, presenting at a pedagogical conference alongside Wibbelsman, and preparing the resulting paper for publication. Her work with the Collection has been a natural complement to her Peruvian heritage and love of Peruvian dance and festival clothing:

I have a strong and deep connection and interest in Latin American cultures, specifically Andean and Amazonian. […] I’ve found a space and support within my university to continue researching the topics I want to explore.

Cameron Logar has been busy researching the diablada festival in which the devil masks are used. This research has required him to consider in depth the responsibility of learning about the history, meaning, cultural context, and representation of Collection objects. This work has been personally rewarding for Cameron:

I am thankful that I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy this wonderful opportunity. I can truly say that it has changed my life for the better, giving me new direction, new goals, and a new passion.

Cameron was also one of only five undergraduate students selected for the GAHDT Society of Fellows Undergraduate Apprentices on this year’s theme of “Archival Imaginations” for his project “The Details in the Devils: Plural Meanings in Diablada Performance and Archival Presentation”.

Shima Karimi has conducted comparative research that explores the role of Indigenous women in the mythology and cultural narratives of Iran and the Andes. She seeks to challenge the exclusion of Indigenous women from mainstream historical and cultural narratives by highlighting their contributions to the cultural heritage of their communities. This work has helped her to better understand the intersection of gender, culture, and mythology and enhanced her scholarly abilities:

Working with the Collection has allowed me to develop my research skills and deepen my understanding of the complexities of indigenous cultures and communities.

Victor Vimos, who describes the Collection as “a space for learning and individual and collective growth,” has also grown as a scholar through the writing of his master’s thesis on an Andean poet and Quechua and Aymara worldviews:

Since I started my work [with the Collection], my relationship with Andean concepts has been broader and I have been able to carry out research in dialogue with them.

Please join us in congratulating our spring 2023 student curators and thanking them for their many contributions to Andean and Amazonian studies at OSU!

The Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection is housed in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in Hagerty Hall 255 and supported by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Center for Latin American Studies (in part through Title VI funding from the US Department of Education), and generous private donations from Dr. Norman Whitten. To learn more about the collection please visit the AAAC website and the K’acha Willaykuna main website.

See more: https://clas.osu.edu/news/congratulations-our-spring-2023-whitten-scholarship-awardees

Collaboration with ACCAD

On February 9th the Integrated Tech, ACCAD Creative Projects class visited the Dancing with Devils: Latin American Masks Traditions in the Barnett Center Collaboratory.

This new semester-long collaboration with Vita Berezina-Blackburn, Jeremy Patterson and their students (ACCAD), Dean Hensley, Immersive designer for OTDI (Office of Technology and Digital Innovation), Amy Spears and Alex Torchia (Digital Union) uses the diablada masks on display to bring humanities questions into dialogue with technology and design as students explore how cultural content might inform digital capture processes, and similarly how digital opportunities invite new perspectives and new forms of inquiry for Latin American traditions.

Michelle, Tamryn and Anais discuss the Dancing with Devils exhibition with visiting ACCAD students and visitors from the OTDI and the Digital Union.


Jeremy Patterson demonstrates how to capture one of the exhibit masks using his iPhone 14 to create a 3D digital object. Photogrammetry processes and technology have evolved with handheld devises and AI that recognizes markers for making sense of the hundreds of photos on its own and compiling them into a digital asset in less than 20 minutes.


More documentation of a Tukuna bark cloth mask from Southeastern Colombia in the Kawsay Ukunchay collection. Rigid surfaces of the diablo masks versus that of soft cloth masks require a slightly different process and pose a different challenge.


Sometimes the renderings don’t turn out as you planned!


ACCAD students will continue to work with the masks this spring as a resource for learning about, exploring and testing digitization processes and rendering digital 3D assets for eventual use in AR and VR.