Clay comes to life in the right hands
A new exhibition records the work of the artisans from a Wichí community in Tartagal as part of an initiative launched by the local government in partnership with Tecpetrol to protect a unique and ancestral culture.
In the beginning, it was earth, fire and water. Essential elements that man chose to articulate his desire to fashion things in the world, whether for utilitarian, decorative or ritual purposes. In each new piece, that power of transformation takes on new meaning, as can be seen in the photographic exhibition charting the process of production of ceramic objects in Tartagal, Salta, a key chapter in the protection of the local cultural heritage.
Hosted at the Cultural Center of the Original Peoples in the city of Salta, the exhibition documents the minutiae of the creation process for a series of ceramic pieces produced by Wichí craftspeople in their community. Pots, vases and jars, as well as small painted animals that pay homage to the artisanal practices of the pre-Columbian peoples that once inhabited these lands.
The exhibition is the culmination of an initiative developed by the local government in partnership with the Aguaragüe joint venture. "Preserving local culture is one of the priority areas we are continually exploring with our community relations team," explained Eduardo Isasmendi, the Senior Manager of Tecpetrol’s Aguaragüe Division, during the inauguration of the photo exhibition, which was attended by members of the local communities.
Learning these time-honored skills from her grandmother, Julia Guerra, a Wichí artisan, grinds clay, kneads it into shapes and fires the pieces subsequently used in the home, or sold as handicrafts in the region. "I am grateful for this invitation to show my craft and create the opportunity for my ethnic group to achieve visibility and recognition," said Joel Herrera, who is well known in the district, a craftsman whose work enables him to support his family. Karina Zuleta, Tartagal’s Secretary of Culture and Tourism, highlighted the importance of documenting the craftsmanship of these communities as, "Disseminating and displaying their work is a way of showing appreciation and value."
This is the second time that Tecpetrol has helped to organize an exhibition featuring the crafts of the native peoples of the North, with the idea of "documenting their culture," according to Andrea Fernández, from Tecpetrol's Human Resources area. Luciana Fernández, Community Relations (CORE) Analyst, highlighted that, "at Tecpetrol's Community Relations area, we support this type of project which showcases the value of each community’s culture, encouraging their practices and development and helping to keep ancestral traditions alive."