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Art, culture connect Boston to Peru and beyond

Posted by Chad O'Connor  February 11, 2014 06:00 AM

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[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

I recently completed an international residency in Cusco, Peru at the Escuela Superior Autónoma de Bellas Artes. Living and working in another country was a challenge on many levels. Dealing with a language barrier, different electrical circuits for my power tools, foreign types of wood, and different chemicals and chemistry for products I rely on to finish my work was not easy. But it forced me to try new materials and techniques, and it pushed my work in a different direction, which in the end is what residencies are all about.

Legacy by Andy Moerlein
Peru is an up and coming country; when the new president took office, over half the country was above the poverty line for the first time in modern history. We spent most of our time in Cusco, a city of 500,000 people, that will reach a million in the next 5 years, by all predictions. Many people are coming there from surrounding South American countries. There is a brand new mall in Cusco that is a sensation, for all the local people. At the mall, there is also a store called Promart, which is a carbon copy of Home Depot. Many indigenous people were fascinated by the escalator and elevator. Most of the culture is run by mom and pop shops. There are not that many grocery stores; most of what you eat, you buy with cash at the market, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, eggs, cheese, spices, condiments etc.

Cusco is very self sufficient, due to its remote location. Almost everything we bought there was made there, even jam, chocolate, and coffee. It is rich with the handicraft traditions of textile dyeing and weaving, gourd carving, pottery, jewelry and stone carving, There is not much of a market for contemporary art, yet, because cash is very difficult to come by. People exist on bartering and trading for things. There is also not much exposure to modern and contemporary art in Cusco other than Pre-Columbian, Incan, and the Spanish colonial art. There is an important cultural dialogue going on there between the Catholic/Dominican Church and the local indigenous culture. The coexistence of indigenous religious ceremonies and modern Christian ones is evident in the culture and in the art work of the local artists from Cusco, a few of whom we met.

Several of the big banks in the country have cultural foundations that patronize the local artists. Many have created art galleries and museums in their offices that produce exhibitions, catalogs, and collections of contemporary art. Some are the major financial sponsors of the art museums, that feature contemporary artists in the historical and cultural institutions in the city. In addition, the cultural centers, like ICPNA (Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano) in Lima and Cusco provide support for local and international artists to show their work. The hotels and guest houses also feature the art work of many local artists, which feeds the main economy in Cusco: tourism.

Side by side with artists from the Boston Sculptors Gallery and artists from Lima, Iquitos and Cusco Peru, I made new work in preparation for our group show that opened at the MUSEO Convento de Santo Domingo QORIKANCHA on February 1st, 2014, called Visions/Visiones that was curated by Nora Valdez. In addition to the new work I made in residence, I brought recent work with me to exhibit that I showed in the Nesto Gallery at Milton Academy this fall, for our preview exhibition, Connections/Conexiónes.

Artifacto by Kim Bernard
The show, Visions/Visiones will remain on view through March 31, 2014. The show features artwork by the following artists from the Boston Sculptors Gallery: Caroline Bagenal, Kim Bernard, Murray Dewart, Donna Dodson, Rosalyn Driscoll, Laura Evans, Peter DeCamp Haines, Michelle Lougee, Nancy Winship Milliken, Andy Moerlein, Nancy Selvage, Liz Shepherd, Jessica Straus, Nora Valdez, Hannah Verlin and Joseph Wheelwright. These Boston sculptors will show alongside many notable Peruvian artists such as: Ronald Alvan, Pablo Yactayo, Jacob Sulca, Persi Narvaez, Ivan Tovar, Victor Zuniga, Luis Angulo y Gianfranco Yovera, Carlos Bardales and Xavier Cano.

Donna Dodson graduated cum laude from Wellesley College in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts. Since 2000, Dodson has been honored with solo shows nationwide for her wood sculptures. Dodson enjoys public speaking, and has been a guest speaker in conferences, panels and forums at museums and universities in North America.

[We are thankful for Global Business Hub’s support of the Creative Industries. Please note: This article does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development or its Creative Economy Industry Director for the Commonwealth, nor is it an endorsement of any views, products, or opinions contained therein. The author is solely responsible for the content.]

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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