Talia Peckel is The Haven / Gabriola Arts Council Artist in Residence for 2017, This is the first in a series of blog posts from her.
Hello, Haven and Gabriola community!
My first blog post, where should I begin? I suppose I’ll start by introducing myself a little bit. I’m currently writing this from Bogota, Colombia, the city where I grew up. I’m half Canadian, half Colombian. I was also raised in a Jewish community, all of which has added to a very interesting and sometimes confusing mix of cultures, experiences and sense of identity in my life. Though strangely this has little to do with the artwork I produce, since I my interests are not centered on the way that I was raised. If you’d like, you may read my bio (before I go off on a rant about identity).
I’m so happy to have been offered the opportunity to participate in this artist in residence program, as it seems to touch upon pretty much all of my favorite things in the world: art, community, sustainability, wellness, education, and more. Ok, maybe not all of my favorite things … chocolate isn’t officially included …
Anyways, for the last two weeks I have been working in a natural reserve (called Habitat Sur) in Leticia, Amazonas. There, I painted a mural on one of the exterior walls of the volunteer bathroom. A structure built, miraculously, from recycled bottle caps and other sustainably sourced materials. In addition, I had the opportunity to teach an art workshop to a group of children who attend an afterschool program where they learn about their indigenous Huitoto heritage and language with an elder from their community. This workshop, titled “Imaginary Creatures”, consisted of creating booklets by drawing Amazonian animals and cutting their bodies into three parts to create Frankenstein-ish animals (e.g. the head of a toucan with the body of a tiger and a lizard tail). Then, the teacher helped the kids translate the names of the animals from Spanish to their indigenous language, Huitoto Muina Muri.
It was definitely a life-changing experience to spend this time in the Amazon, though sadly I have no pictures of the workshop … or of monkeys climbing on me and trying to open my backpack (but you’ll just have to take my word for it on both accounts!) I do, however, have pictures of my mural here.
Now I am back in Bogota for a bit and I guess that is all for now. I’ll be checking in with more on my nomadic adventures soon. Have a great day everyone!