In my office are some very special gifts given to me by Laura Anderson Barbata, a world renown artist whose studio is located in Brooklyn, New York. I met her while we were attending an event to celebrate our induction into the Explorers Club of New York. We are both dear friends of Shero Hakihiiwe, a Yanomami artist who lives in the Upper Orinoco of Venezuela. She and Shero were part of a paper making project:
“Yanomami Owë Mamotima is a papermaking project in the Amazon of Venezuela led by Laura Anderson Barbata. The project began in 1992 training the Yanomami Community of Platanal in the Venezuelan Amazon teaching the fabrication of handmade paper from rain forest fibers and recycled materials. The community is then encouraged to document their oral histories and traditions in their native language, thereby fostering self-expression through the integration of these documents into the bookmaking process for use in community schools. The paper is handmade by the Yanomami, printed with hand carved linoleum block and bound using a natural wood spine (traditionally used for bows and arrows), painted with onoto and sewn with kurathasi fiber string. These activities are carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Inparques, and the Vicariato Apostólico de Venezuela.” – Laura Anderson Barbata
I was so honored and delighted to meet her. This project, empowered Yanomami communities to use art as a means of expression and innovation. Yes, the Yanomami people are masters of the rain forest. But they are also artists and innovators and this project shows how two worlds can come together to create something beautiful.
Check out her website here: http://www.lauraandersonbarbata.com/