April 1, 2023
A drawing workshop in the forest with the Matsigenka youth of Shipetiari.
DRAWN TO THE FOREST | the language of plants
The forest in and around the community of Shipetiari are home to various species of medicinal plants and trees. Today, there are few elders who are engaged with natural healing traditions and cures and some families who use traditional plants as part of their supplementary diets. Because the forest represents a deep cultural keystone for many Indigenous communities, the idea of collaborating with the youth on new and fun ways to create with that nature revealed itself.
This creative workshop involved a plant walk led by one of the elders Lola and the primary students of the community. On this walk, Lola would look for plant species familiar to her and speak with the children about how to identify the plant and its benefits.
By first identifying the plant in its natural habitat, the children would retrieve a sample of the corresponding leaf, serving as each plant's signature. It was beautiful to see the different ways the children came into contact with the plants from excitement filled with delicacy to innocent familiarity, nature seems to charge us with something undeniably tactile; a retrievable intelligence.
After having identified some six to eight different plants, we then headed back to the forest drawing room where we would begin to make "impressions" of each leaf using colored pencils and bond paper. Through this correlative artistic method, the plants could continue to reveal their imprint while linking each child's memory to the plant's name and its benefits aided by Lola's tutelage and the team at Xapiri Ground.
The big learning with this workshop was the reminder that when art can speak to what is, we create a deeper resonance to our surroundings and in this case, our child-like nature.
These original recordings and photography are an ongoing part of our many visits to the community. We hope that you continue to follow our progress with this long-standing project of art and storytelling, focused on connecting the youth with the oral traditions of their elders and living culture through creative workshops and relationship building.
This project is made possible through our partnership with SePerú; a non-profit organization dedicated to equal benefits and co-management of Peruvian Indigenous communities and their natural ecosystem.
Support this project so that we may continue to share and learn about the ancestral knowledge of the Matsigenka people.
Video Footage: Davis Torres, Melanie Dizon
Video edition: Melanie Dizon
Photography: Davis Torres
© 2023 by Xapiri Ground. All rights reserved.