Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture

Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture

Bard Graduate Center

Left: Susan Mejia, Tinted fique fibers drying in the Amazon, 
from “Color Amazonia,” 2006–2013. Courtesy of the artist. 
Right: Clemencia Echeverri, Cauca River, Caldas, 
Colombia from Treno (still), 2007. Video. Courtesy of the artist.
April 11, 2014
Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture

April 11–August 10, 2014


Curated by José Roca, the Estrellita B. Brodsky Adjunct Curator of Latin American Art at Tate Modern and Artistic Director of FLORA ars+natura in Bogotá, with the assistance of independent writer and editor Alejandro Martín

Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture uses the trope of the river as a conceptual device to explore the intricate ways in which culture and nature intertwine across disciplines. Today, when a majority of the population lives in cities, rivers continue to serve as the sole access to remote areas and to play a new role as the axis for a different type of economics: the black market that fuels the armed conflict that has plagued Colombia for decades.

The exhibition includes seventeen artists, designers and craftspeople, among them Olga de Amaral, Ceci Arango, Monika Bravo, Nicolás Consuegra, Jorge Lizarazo, Susana Mejía, Lucy Salamanca, and Carol Young.

Funding for this exhibition is generously provided by Vivian Haime Barg, Alberto Mugrabi, and Leon Tovar Gallery. In-kind support provided by Christie’s and Phillips. Special thanks also to Cristina Grajales Gallery.

On view in the Focus Gallery
Carrying Coca: 1,500 Years of Andean Chuspas, curated by Nicola Sharratt, examines one of the most enduring and resilient forms in the rich history of Andean weaving traditions— the coca bags, or chuspas. The exhibition reveals how the history of the chuspa is a consequence not only of variations in Andean textile traditions but also of the story of the sacred and contested substance they carry.

Nicola Sharratt is a BGC–AMNH postdoctoral fellow in museum anthropology and a research associate at the Field Museum in Chicago.


Gallery programs
Figure/Ground: Curating Waterweavers
Friday, April 11, 6:30–8pm

In this conversation, moderated by art critic Gregory Volk, curator José Roca and Waterweavers artists Susana Mejía and Jorge Lizarazo will discuss the unique curatorial strategy and the challenges of contextualizing a diversity of artworks within the distinctive spaces of the BGC Gallery. Read more and register.

Reflections of Rulership in Wari Tapestry-Woven Tunics
Tuesday, April 22, 6–8pm

Between AD 600 and 1000, the Wari people of ancient Peru forged a society so complex that many regard it as South America’s first empire. Because the Wari did not use writing, our understanding of their accomplishments is based on analyses of their material culture, including a corpus of artistically complex tapestry-woven tunics that were the raiment of Wari rulers and other elites. In this lecture, Susan Bergh will examine two groups of tunics to reveal what they suggest about the singular nature of Wari rulership. The program will conclude with a response from Carrying Coca curator Nicola Sharratt. Read more and register.

Containing Many Meanings: Chuspas, Coca Leaf, and Andean Culture
Tuesday, May 6, 6–8pm

Coca is deeply enmeshed in the fabric of Andean societies. For millennia its leaves have provided Andean people with a medicine and mild stimulant. Its cultural role as a sacrament continues today in highland communities, where the religious beliefs and practices of Indigenous peoples are entwined with those of Christianity. Coca is carried in chuspas—small woven bags that are designed to hold coca leaves and that reflect great care and artistry. In this lecture, Catherine Allen will discuss the enduring significance of chuspas to the people who make and use them. Read more and register.

Design for a Better World
Tuesday, May 20, 6–8pm

The Waterweavers exhibition includes the work of several designers who are dedicated to the creation and promotion of sustainably designed furniture, textiles, and functional objects, many of them made by indigenous craftspeople from Latin America. In this panel discussion, design writer Paul Makovsky will moderate a discussion with Lucy Salamanca and other designers who will discuss their philosophies and approaches to ethical design, reducing consumption of non-renewable resources, and creating healthy, sustainable environments. Read more and register.


About the BGC

The Bard Graduate Center’s gallery exhibitions, MA and PhD programs, and research initiatives explore new ways of thinking about decorative arts, design history, and material culture. Located in New York City, the BGC is a unit of Bard College.

Bard Graduate Center Gallery
18 West 86th Street
New York, NY 10024
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm,
Thursday 11am–8pm

7 USD general, 5 USD senior and students (valid ID).
Admission is free Thursday evenings after 5pm.


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Bard Graduate Center
April 11, 2014

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