Listen to the artist talk about her work:
My name is Laura Anderson Barbata and I’ll speak about my work Santos y profetas made in 1995, from the series En el orden del caos. In 1992 I started to work in Venezuela’s Amazonas region on a project with the Yanomami, Piaroa, and Ye’kuana communities from Alto Orinoco. They taught me to make canoes and to understand different traditional techniques, and in exchange I taught them to make paper and books with natural fibers from the area, and to recycle the trash from the missions, adapting their traditional practices for the creation of illustrated books for the community in their language, without the need of materials not available in the vicinity. The whole community would choose the content of the books, and the first Yanomami book, titled Shapono received the prize for best book in 1996. The experience marked me deeply and radically changed my way of working. From that moment, it became eminently important to me to integrate reciprocity as a philosophy of life and work. During my multiple stays in the Amazon region, as is custom, we exchanged gifts, and on various occasions they gave me bird feathers. The beauty of these feathers has a spiritual power, and juxtaposing them with Catholic ex-votos made of wood, placed upon bases of scavenged wood, allows us to direct our gaze toward the complex coexistence of life in the area, communities that, from the time of the Conquest, have lived under the imposition of evangelization and the introduction of industrialized materials. When I see this work, I feel that it reaffirms not just the beauty of the feathers, and the lives they represent, but that it also alludes to their spiritual power, which goes beyond imposed doctrine. That is, even in the smallest detail we can find an immense universe from which we can learn.