Museum of International Folk Art (MIFA) curator Amy Groleau focused on Peru in past anthropological and archaeological research, so it made sense to her to put together “Crafting Memory: The Art Community in Peru” as her first exhibit at the museum.
“Crafting Memory: The Art of Community in Peru,” which opens at MIFA on December 3 with live music by Baracutanga and a reception hosted by the Women’s Board of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, explores Peruvian folk arts created since the 1970s and reflects Groleau’s interest in the relationships between people and material culture.
On display are a wide assortment of handmade items, including jewelry, church ornaments, traditional forms of dress, wooden boxes with sculptures on them, silkscreen items, posters, t-shirts, weavings and paintings.
Complementing the objects are more than 20 short videos projected in seven different viewing areas in the gallery space that talk about the works in the show.
“To give the exhibit context, I draw lines between objects from the past that are part of the museum’s collection and how they have affected the work of today’s artists,” Groleau explains. “The exhibition explores the many routes through which craft and folk arts are learned and practiced, including multigenerational crafting families, self-taught artisans and others who came to folk arts as a means of economic survival during times of violence.”
To help prepare for the show, Groleau spent a total of two months in Peru building relationships with artists and artisans and gaining understanding about how tremendous changes in the Andes, beginning with the Agrarian Reform of 1969 that broke up large haciendas and progressing through a 20-year internal armed conflict during the 1980s and 1990s that claimed close to 70,000 lives, have influenced folk artists and their sense of community.
Groleau, who is the museum’s curator of Latin American Collections, earned her Ph.D in anthropology from State University of New York at Binghamton. She was a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Colgate University in New York before arriving at MIFA.