Sculptures from Peru to Home

My time in Peru has been nothing short of extraordinary: new sights, delicious foods, and learning new things at my internship. Put simply, Peru is different and there have been adjustments in terms of the sweltering weather, constant biting mosquitoes, lack of indoor bathrooms, and poor water quality. At the same time, I have had the unique opportunity to understand the rich culture of the indigenous Shipibo-Conibo people: complex language, beautiful embroidery, and amazing artwork. On that note - today, I had the opportunity to visit two artisans in the region, who are quite famous for their sculptures. In fact, they are sisters who work on the craft together. Seeing the care and thought they put into the sculptures reminded me of Nancy* and her figurines, which I talk about in the blog post here.

I was astonished and so amazed that everything from the clay to the paint was from the earth; thus, the product was all-natural. In addition, the artwork was done in the artisan’s house where they had a studio. Meanwhile, the “kiln” was a fire set-up in her backyard. Talking to them, the artisans spoke of their inspiration for their work: they incorporate their environment, customs, and traditions into the ceramics.

Below are some pictures to better understand the process itself! I’m very excited to share these with you all and to Nancy when I return to the states. This visit to the artisans reminded me of Nancy telling me how much creativity mattered to her: whether that was with her words or hands. She also highlighted that there was something very comforting being able to create something tangible with her hands. She relayed that the work she made was open for interpretation, but regardless of the meaning people found, she was always satisfied when they found something that spoke to them. I believe that in that those sentiments hold true for the creations below. There’s something beautiful in the way that artwork is one thing that is able to both transcend language and connect cultures. 

 Some of the beautiful creations! There is such diversity in the items made, but all are so unique and different. I love how all of them are hand-made, showcasing the craft required to make the ceramics. 

Some of the beautiful creations! There is such diversity in the items made, but all are so unique and different. I love how all of them are hand-made, showcasing the craft required to make the ceramics. 

 Some of the sculptures that I was talking about. I believe that these, more than anything else, showcases the Shipibo tradition and best represent what values and ideas that they hold dear. They are mainly used for decorative purposes. 

Some of the sculptures that I was talking about. I believe that these, more than anything else, showcases the Shipibo tradition and best represent what values and ideas that they hold dear. They are mainly used for decorative purposes. 

 Where the pieces are made before paint is put on them and then glazed over. The fire is incredibly hot, and the pieces are in there for a long time to ensure their durability. It's also good to keep in mind how draining this process must be especially in the heat of the jungle. 

Where the pieces are made before paint is put on them and then glazed over. The fire is incredibly hot, and the pieces are in there for a long time to ensure their durability. It's also good to keep in mind how draining this process must be especially in the heat of the jungle. 

 This is what the smaller figurines looked like before they are painted and glazed.

This is what the smaller figurines looked like before they are painted and glazed.

 The paints the artisans use. In fact, we came in while one of the artisans was painting her creation. You can tell that the colors used are very much aligned with earthy tones. I believe that  these such colors really make the vibe of the piece, showcasing the closeness the Shipibo feel to Mother Nature.

The paints the artisans use. In fact, we came in while one of the artisans was painting her creation. You can tell that the colors used are very much aligned with earthy tones. I believe that  these such colors really make the vibe of the piece, showcasing the closeness the Shipibo feel to Mother Nature.

*Names changed for privacy 

-Ellen Zhang