I seek to portray the faces of my ancestors, the indigenous people of the Chimborazo Province of Ecuador, also known as the Puruhá people, from which my maternal grandmother originated. These paintings came from candid photographs I took of different Puruhá communities in 2012. My bright color palette mirrors the bright clothing colors the Puruha are characterized by. Starting with the red ponchos specifically allude to the accessorial legacy of resistance and rebellions that the indigenous people were and are currently known for,while bright pinks and magentas are very characteristic of the women of the Puruhá people. Their bright colors are a testament to their history and mine.
I choose to represent the Puruhá people to connect with my grandmother’s roots which she scarcely taught her children about it. Indigenous people in Ecuador and most parts of the world have been historically marginalized. My grandmother knew that and wanted to protect her children from it. She choose not to teach most of her children the Quichua language so they wouldn’t be discriminated against.
The Puruhá culture is rich in its colors and its unique knowledge passed down through oral tradition, like that of music. The Puruhá people are responsible for creating Jahuay (musical genre) harvest ritual song that dates back at least 500 years. I participated in a project which documented this. That project led to the images for my paintings in this series. These paintings are an homage to this group of people who are historically responsible for fighting the injustice of governments even to this day.
The “Ponchos rojos”(red ponchos) uprisings helped eradicate the abuses that indigenous people suffered at the hands of colonizers and their decedents. The figures are alone because they are puzzle pieces of each other’s communities. The puzzle pieces are also a metaphor for the artist’s ancestry lineage, which is a mystery due to what little the family knows of her grandmother’s family.
The subjects in the paintings become a part of the artist and the viewer who perceives them because they are no longer invisible. Our bonds to other humans remain broken when we ignore or refuse to preserve the common humanity and beauty that exist in those “different” from ourselves.
View the recording of Daniela’s Art Exhibit Opening from November 4th!