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Maras K´ampa’s Asociation is made up of 12 women from Maras town. They use the corn husk, in quechua called k’ampa, to create difrente handicrafts like baskets, rugs, vases, sugar bowls and other utilitarian and decorative objects.

The Husk is the vegetable fiber that covers the corn, it takes approximately 15 hours to dry under the sun, then the Maras K’ampa women separate the corn from the husk and choose the cleanest leaves to finally collect them in a bag and use them for their weaving projects.

This natural fiber gains flexibility when it has been moisten previousley, otherwhise it is brittle and fragile. While i was there y was able to apreciate the constant use of water to soften the material structure. Water is a vital source for the entire Maras territory, since the success of the planting depends a lot on the good irrigation that comes naturally during the rainy season.

The link between the territory, the social and cultural value that is experienced within the research field at Mater, is reflected in the gastronomic level in the dishes of the restaurants Central, Kjolle and Mil. Immersing oneself in the kitchen and observing the components, distribution, composition and presentation of the dishes, opened a great sensitive and plastic panorama prior to my residency trip. Some courses of the whole experience were key to think of proposals where the protagonist object was the vegetable fiber. Courses like Maíces de Urubamba in Central or Diversidad de Maíces in Mil, were important refrences for the creation process.

The first weaving proposals for the restaurants were developed in Lima, prior to the residency trip. We traced a route with the recommendations of Malena, Virgilio and Pía for this project where the main protagonist was the corn husk.

From my plastic practice as an artist, I had my first material approach to this new fiber that was being incorporated to several vegetable fibers that I had already worked with. I walked an unknown path and approaching this new vegetable fiber for the first time opened, in my own mind, a world of possibilities.

The game and the ludic character of finding forms through the exercise of thinking and doing, resulted in an experimental approach to proposals with the intention of deconstructing the ordinary form we usually relate to the image of the corn husk. To restructure and give a new form by means of the plastic I could appreciate it in the food and the composition of structure and form at the moment of the plating in the restaurants.

The first days of my residency I was able to meet personaly and closely the 8 women who decided to collaborate in this project of weaving with husk for the restaurants. This women I worked with were: Vicky, Juana, Luz Marina, Justina, Nieves, Vilma, Carmen and Elena.

Determined to carry out this project, in collaboration with the ladies of Maras, we undertook a journey that at the beginning was a challenge, since we were approaching a new way of seeing things, feelings of frustration appeared, which we gradually overcame with patience and perseverance.

For a while, we left the traditional technique at rest and dared to experiment, leaving our comfort zone. It was a challenge that ended up bringing us closer together. Between the difficulty we connected on a personal and intimate level and on both sides we were able to learn the meaning of patience, which is what the work of weaving teaches you.

We work the proposals through knotting, we incorporate tools such as crochet and we used molds. The inspiration came from the territory, the shapes tried to resemble organic and natural movments. The textures of the pieces tell the story of the origin of the vegetable fiber from which they were made. This is how names like “nest” were born, names that we use to call the fabrics and distinguish them from each other.

During the residency, the husk weaving pieces were dyed in various colors as a result of dyeing with native plants that grow in Moray, thanks to the dyeing masters, the Warmis of Kacllaraccay.

From this encounter with two communities, the Warmis of K’acllaraccay and the ladies of the Maras K’ampa Association, the artistic work called Raíz was born.

Raiz, as root, is the name of the art piece that makes visible the learning and the bonds that have been built during the residency experience with both communities.

This work is about time through the language of knots, the connection of the encounter between two different realities, the sharing with the knitting and the interweaving of bonds of friendship invisible to our eyes, but present and vital, as well as the extensions of the roots that we do not see but that are the main column that nourishes the whole plant keeping it alive.

Speaking more personally, finishing this residency with Raíz was important to me, I felt the need to keep those ties alive and at the same time contemplate on the lesson that I will carry in my memory and heart. This piece of art not only appears to be a root in its shape, it is the ducts of our body, the veins and arteries that give us life. The union of the corn husk and the sheep threads reflect this encounter of both communities, specialists in their fields, but not different or contrary, but converging in a union through the beautiful craftsmanship that the Peruvian textile tradition has given us through history.

Root piece, exhibited in the lounge of the Central restaurant in Lima, Peru.


Andrea Tapia
Guest author

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