About the Project:
In the Mountains of Peru
In the summer of 2003, my husband, Douglas, and our younger daughter, Katherine, and I trekked around the mountains of Peru. I was on a SURDNA Arts Teachers Fellowship, and my principal intention was to see weavings and consider how they are made within the context of the culture and environment. For the past 13 years, the products and processes associated with domestic labor had been recurring themes in my still life construction photographs. The carefully crafted, anonymously made rug, quilt or sampler, created without pretense, for function and/or adornment seemed especially heroic to me. This got me looking at textiles from other cultures, the rugs made by nomadic women from the Caucasus Mountains, for example, and the weavings made by Andean women.
The images in these digital photographs are my response to what I saw of the weaving tradition in the mountains. Five Andeans, three who spoke only Quechuan, the language of the indigenous people, led us to a few remote villages high in the Urubamba range of the Andes. We witnessed the difficult life of these isolating altitudes. Potatoes are the main staple; children bring a stick of firewood to school as tuition; and llamas, alpacas and sheep are raised for their meat and wool. While manufactured clothes are evident, so are those that are handcrafted; many women and girls still spin wool and weave on back strap looms, as people have been doing for centuries. The intricacies of the patterns, the beauty of the weavings, the concern for fine craftsmanship as seen against the backdrop of a grand landscape was truly awe-inspiring. To me, the desire and ability to create art in such harsh living conditions are courageous and life affirming, virtues born of necessity.