L A S I E R R A
In early 2022 I had the opportunity to photograph, film and share knowledge with two nonprofit Organizations that design and implement environmental and social projects to protect and preserve the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and its surroundings: Jaguar Siembra and ProSierra. Both projects work to regenerate deforested areas through agroforestry and ancestral methods.
Going into the jungle takes several days; understanding the rhythm of life of the indigenous communities that live there requires much more. During the months I spent with them, I had the opportunity to contemplate how life is woven from the skillful hands of the indigenous women who in each backpack and in each stitch, express their sadness, joys, hopes and frustrations.
Stories by Design
A mochila not only portrays the Sierra Nevada’s landscapes, but is also an object where thoughts and stories can turn into concrete designs and patterns.
W E A V E R S
Bunkuimake’s Arhuaco townswomen are all expert weavers. They decided to set up their own roadside stall to sell their intricately woven bags (mochilas) made from lambswool and cotton. This additional income is used to buy food, school materials for their children, and on occasion, items for themselves.
Traditional Knowledge in Practice
For these peoples, weaving and knitting are a means to communicate the diversity of these landscapes. Spinning and weaving are combined with the traditional knowledge of natural dyeing techniques and weavable patterns for textiles like mochilas, the knit bags worn by Indigenous peoples and Colombians in general that are used to carry personal items.
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M A R I A L A B A J A
The road not only took me to the Arhuacos, Koguis, Wiwas, and Kankuamos, but also to the Afro communities. I met the women who represent in Maria la Baja, Bolivar, the Bullerengue - a music and dance of Colombia's Caribbean coast, performed by the descendants of the slaves who inhabited that region.
Listening to their stories and portraying their faces reminded me of the importance of the struggle of those who continue to protect their lands, their homes and their communities. In the face of the armed conflict in Colombia, it is important to remember the value of this complex and diverse territory.
We must not forget to travel and discover our cultural richness. It is important to recognize in order to protect.
For our future leaders, for our ancestors. Let us remember to amplify their voices, wherever they are.
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The road also took me through fishermen's communities. That is what Colombia is all about. An infinity of microcosms, cultures, ways of life, colors, flavors, dances, and rhythms.
There, I had the opportunity to appreciate this ancestral work.
Their hands are stiff from long days of pulling the net, and their eyes are so humble and full of affection for the place that has seen them grow old.
P E S C A D O R E S
With their nets they go. From dawn until sunset.
Every day the same routine, but with different adventures and challenges.
With respect and love for the sea, they go out every day to fish.