Ancestral Latin American cultures convene in Tiverton


Cultural Survival Bazaars feature Indigenous art, crafts, and music

Tiverton, RI (July 2017) – On Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30,
Cultural Survival, a nonprofit organization based in Cambridge, MA, will
hold its annual Indigenous arts Bazaar at the Four Corners Arts Center in
Tiverton. This festival will highlight Indigenous artists, musicians, and
performers from diverse cultures who will share their traditions. Among
these vendors, there will be a large representation of Latin American
artists and artisans.

One of this year’s returning vendors is the Guatemala Art and Culture
Connection, which features original art and crafts from traditional Mayan
villages around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. The crafts that they source
include paintings, weavings, and bead work for which the artisans
incorporate new designs into their centuries old traditions. These crafts
are important to the artists because it is a way of preserving their
cultures. They do so by depicting scenes such as harvesting coffee, food
markets, ceremonies, and nature that are integral parts of life, as well as
representations of Mayan Cosmology and rituals. Guatemala Art and Culture
Connection says that they “hope to increase awareness of the economic,
political, environmental and social issues that impact these Indigenous
communities and to foster an appreciation of their rich art and culture…
[as] a means of connecting people across borders and cultures and foster
deeper understanding, mutual respect and cooperation to bring into being a
more equitable, just and peaceful world.”

This year’s Bazaar in Tiverton will feature Mama Mochila, a new vendor who
has had a partnership with Indigenous Arhuaco women in Colombia since 2010.
The women in these small communities are known for weaving bags known as
mochilas, cross-body bags made from animal fiber that are almost always
these communities’ main source of income. Through the ethical sale of
ancestral crafts and the just compensation that reflects the complexity and
time required to create the artwork, Mama Mochila empowers Arhuaco women
and their families. Making mochilas is a rite of passage for young women,
for mochilas are believed to be a demonstration of a woman’s thought
process, focus and effort.

Cultural Survival is also proud to welcome back Felicia Huarsaya, an Aymara
weaver from a small community in the Peruvian province of Puno. Felicia
states, “We are selling our products, different artwork that we—the
Indigenous women of Peru—know how to weave by hand.” She works with
Artesanías Kollasullo, a cooperative of 80 individuals in the region of
Alpaquera, Peru, who create alpaca and sheep wool crafts, including
scarves, sweaters, hats, stuffed animals, and woven decorations. Alpacas
are native to Peru and extremely important to Peruvian Indigenous
communities, which is why these artists, who identify with Aymara and
Quechua cultures, seek to share the cultural significance of their craft.
In addition to her work as an artisan, Felicia has also been involved with
the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Tierra Viva is a nonprofit that has been working with Indigenous
communities in Venezuela for 10 years. The organization works with several
artisans to train them to develop commercially viable products for which
they are paid above market price. The products they source, such as
baskets, handbags, placemats, household decorations, and jewelry represent
the Warao, Wayuu, and Ye’kwana cultures. Eachitem is handmade using
traditional methods. The Warao people weave using moriche palm fiber or the
stems of an aquatic plant called bora. Wayuu crafts are woven using
conventional textile fibers, whereas Ye’kwana baskets and jewelry are made
from the fibers of a vine that is found in the jungles of Venezuela.

Since 1982, Cultural Survival Bazaars have provided a market for thousands
of Indigenous artists and cooperatives spanning six continents and over
sixty countries. Each year the Bazaars generate about half a million
dollars for Indigenous artists, performers, and projects. Cultural Survival
advocates for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supports Indigenous
communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience.