A spin on our usual artisan visits
The Chol Chol Foundation has an alliance with a local artist guild, if that’s what you would call it, called Rakizuam. They function somewhat independently but are sometimes considered under the umbrella of the Chol Chol organization. These are primarily artisans that create pieces other than weaving, like ceramics, painting, and jewelry (like the artist from our first visit, Don José). Some are Mapuche and some are not, but all create artwork related to the Mapuche culture.
The Rakizuam group had their monthly meeting at the Foundation a few weeks ago, and Susana wanted me to show the group the video I created of Don José, which I had mentioned in a post earlier. Everyone loved the video and the idea of having QR codes on their products that would drive to this video. So much so, that three more artisans signed up to have their videos made!
Sandra is a ceramic artist that lives about 45 minutes outside of Temuco in the town of Gorbea. She has a gorgeous studio and house full of historical Mapuche pieces. It was like a museum. Although she is not Mapuche, her entire family, including her parents and grandparents, were interested in the history behind these archaeological pieces. It was interesting; she explained that her whole family lives in the surrounding houses, so they all have access to the central courtyard and studio space. It was really nice.
Sandra is a fiery spirit. I really enjoy spending time with her. She’s very passionate about her work and always so spirited when we talk with her. Also, we can understand her Spanish very well, so that helps. She explained during her interview that she makes replicas of original Mapuche ceramic art, many which were used in ceremonies or important events. She was replicating a white and red painted pot the day we talked with her.
After her interview, she invited us in for tea (while we waited for her son to arrive home, whom we were also creating a video for). She was so funny, she said to Nick and I, “I’ve been waiting months for you to come visit!” I believe she is good friends with Susana and knew about our arrival. She then asked if she could “interview” us, which was a little funny. She wanted to know things like: Why did we choose Chile? Why the Chol Chol Foundation? What do we do back home? etc. She had some delicious kuchen (yaaaas kuchen) and homemade jam. I don’t know what it is; I’ve never been a big jam person, but it is SO GOOD here. Everyone makes it homemade. We chatted a bit more then Franco arrived.
Nick really enjoyed talking with her as well. It is probably because when she asked how old Nick was – he provided his typical answer, which is “How old do you think I am?” She responded with “No older than 25”. Nick likes Sandra.
Franco is Sandra’s youngest son, and he’s also a ceramic artist. He’s 32 and teaches art at a school in Temuco. (Funny thing that I told Nick—I’ve never met so many people exactly my age before. Franco is 32, Juan Manuel is 32, it’s very strange to me, haha. My friends at home range from 4 years younger than me to 5 years older – I think I only have two or three exactly my age.) ANYWAYS. He makes large scale pieces and they’re really incredible. They all have the sentiment of being tied to the earth and being Mapuche in your conscience. One of my favorite pieces was a head that opened and inside was a miniature replica of a Mapuche piece, like Sandra makes. He was really nice and had some great memories of growing up always making ceramic art with his family.
Also, we were dressed exactly the same. #Twinning
Another firecracker that I really enjoy is Estrella. She always seems to be having people around her laughing. We visited her in her studio in Temuco. She makes miniature pieces of Mapuche drums, and also creates a lot of paintings, on any surface really. She incorporates Mapuche symbolism and mysticism in her pieces. She even painted on a chair! She also creates these miniature mortar and pestles. She had a few set up in a row that were like the Russian dolls of mortar and pestles; each one got smaller and smaller. She heard me squeal about how cute they were that she gave me one, as a memory or “recuerdo”.
All of these videos were a nice spin on the ones we’ve been doing about weaving. All three of these artisans are not Mapuche, but are trying to preserve the Mapuche culture. They all have a passion for it and make truly beautiful pieces.