Latin Artists Create an ‘Arts of Resistance’ Mural for ARTSMASH with VMF + MOA

 by  Gabriela Torres |  Photo : Brandy Colton   At Vancouver Mural Festival, the art we feature is diverse in style and technique. In fact, genres often merge to create unified messages and blend various perspectives on issues both social and political.  This summer, two artist collectives of Latin cultural heritage collaborated to create a vibrant mural on Granville Island at new outdoor public art event called, “Artsmash.” The mural was developed with the help of Laura Osorio, curator at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology. The mural, along with an exhibit at MOA, introduces and brings awareness to many of the issues affecting people in Mexico and South America today.   Oaxacan Artists Spice Up Granville Island Wall   From Oaxaca Mexico to Vancouver B.C, we introduce Lapiztola, a group of artists whose name derives from the Spanish words “lapiz” meaning pencil, and “pistola” meaning pistol. The collective emerged as a response to Mexico’s political revolution in 2006 when violence inflicted upon the Mexican people by the government resulted in the proliferation of street art opposing injustice.  Much of this art was created by Lapiztola who continue the tradition of using art to protest, denounce, and highlight issues that impact their country, city, and people today. Hence, their clever name which ultimately captures how artists give a voice to those unheard by blending art with politics in the name of social justice.  To create their installations, Lapiztola uses stencil and silkscreen printing. Not only do their visual protests reflect their own unique style, but function as an alternate way of bringing awareness to problems including disappearing children, drug lords, genetically modified corn, and more.

by Gabriela Torres | Photo: Brandy Colton

At Vancouver Mural Festival, the art we feature is diverse in style and technique. In fact, genres often merge to create unified messages and blend various perspectives on issues both social and political.

This summer, two artist collectives of Latin cultural heritage collaborated to create a vibrant mural on Granville Island at new outdoor public art event called, “Artsmash.” The mural was developed with the help of Laura Osorio, curator at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology. The mural, along with an exhibit at MOA, introduces and brings awareness to many of the issues affecting people in Mexico and South America today.

Oaxacan Artists Spice Up Granville Island Wall

From Oaxaca Mexico to Vancouver B.C, we introduce Lapiztola, a group of artists whose name derives from the Spanish words “lapiz” meaning pencil, and “pistola” meaning pistol. The collective emerged as a response to Mexico’s political revolution in 2006 when violence inflicted upon the Mexican people by the government resulted in the proliferation of street art opposing injustice.

Much of this art was created by Lapiztola who continue the tradition of using art to protest, denounce, and highlight issues that impact their country, city, and people today. Hence, their clever name which ultimately captures how artists give a voice to those unheard by blending art with politics in the name of social justice.

To create their installations, Lapiztola uses stencil and silkscreen printing. Not only do their visual protests reflect their own unique style, but function as an alternate way of bringing awareness to problems including disappearing children, drug lords, genetically modified corn, and more.

 Photo:  Alina Ilyasova / MOA    Peruvian Artists Bring Kené Design to Vancouver   Olinda and Silvia are Indigenous artists from the Peruvian Amazon’s Ucayali River region. They belong to the Shipibo-Conibo diaspora, relocating to Lima Peru in the 1990s.  Both women began working as artists in 2016 and specialize in Kené, an ancestral, women-only, art form. Those who train in Kené learn to dream and see designs in their minds and transcribe the patterns they imagine onto the skin as tattoos, textiles, and other mediums. When a woman learns how to materialize these designs, her abilities are considered sacred.  Not only is the art form passed down from generation to generation, but it has cultural and mythological significance in Shipibo-Conibo culture. Its geometric designs resemble patterns and systems found in nature including snakeskin, constellations, the forest, and the Amazonian river. These strong ties to nature reflect people’s relationship with all-powerful gods that sustain their communities and surrounding natural environments.  While Olinda and Silvia's designs can be seen on the walls of Lima Peru, their installation at the Museum of Anthropology and mural on Granville Island, is the their first ever international project. This opportunity has led to new possibilities for the artists who have been invited to paint and share their experiences in other parts of the world.

Photo: Alina Ilyasova / MOA

Peruvian Artists Bring Kené Design to Vancouver

Olinda and Silvia are Indigenous artists from the Peruvian Amazon’s Ucayali River region. They belong to the Shipibo-Conibo diaspora, relocating to Lima Peru in the 1990s.

Both women began working as artists in 2016 and specialize in Kené, an ancestral, women-only, art form. Those who train in Kené learn to dream and see designs in their minds and transcribe the patterns they imagine onto the skin as tattoos, textiles, and other mediums. When a woman learns how to materialize these designs, her abilities are considered sacred.

Not only is the art form passed down from generation to generation, but it has cultural and mythological significance in Shipibo-Conibo culture. Its geometric designs resemble patterns and systems found in nature including snakeskin, constellations, the forest, and the Amazonian river. These strong ties to nature reflect people’s relationship with all-powerful gods that sustain their communities and surrounding natural environments.

While Olinda and Silvia's designs can be seen on the walls of Lima Peru, their installation at the Museum of Anthropology and mural on Granville Island, is the their first ever international project. This opportunity has led to new possibilities for the artists who have been invited to paint and share their experiences in other parts of the world.

  Painting Kene    The Merging of Forms: Collectives Collaborate on The Granville Island Mural   After getting to know each while working on The Arts of Resistance exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology, Lapiztola and Olinda and Silvia developed a close relationship. This allowed them to work with each other organically despite their different backgrounds. While painting they came together and merged their artistic styles and techniques for a common purpose: to resist discrimination and oppression against Indigenous populations in Mesoamerica and condemn the commercialization of Indigenous culture used as to attract tourists to the countries Indigenous populations call home.  The Granville Island Mural took approximately 5-6 hours to paint and transformed an otherwise blank canvas into a vivacious wall-scape. While the design was first conceptualized by Lapiztola and assisted by Olinda and Silvia, the mural captures the influence and style of both collectives. The mid section of the mural contains a stencil image of a little girl and on her left and right sides are Kené designs. This interesting combination of stencil and Kené demonstrates how adaptable the ancient art form can be. Though Kené is a traditional mode of expression, meant only for textiles and tattoos, it can transcribe itself onto new mediums in combination with modern art like Lapiztola’s stencil work.

Painting Kene

The Merging of Forms: Collectives Collaborate on The Granville Island Mural

After getting to know each while working on The Arts of Resistance exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology, Lapiztola and Olinda and Silvia developed a close relationship. This allowed them to work with each other organically despite their different backgrounds. While painting they came together and merged their artistic styles and techniques for a common purpose: to resist discrimination and oppression against Indigenous populations in Mesoamerica and condemn the commercialization of Indigenous culture used as to attract tourists to the countries Indigenous populations call home.

The Granville Island Mural took approximately 5-6 hours to paint and transformed an otherwise blank canvas into a vivacious wall-scape. While the design was first conceptualized by Lapiztola and assisted by Olinda and Silvia, the mural captures the influence and style of both collectives. The mid section of the mural contains a stencil image of a little girl and on her left and right sides are Kené designs. This interesting combination of stencil and Kené demonstrates how adaptable the ancient art form can be. Though Kené is a traditional mode of expression, meant only for textiles and tattoos, it can transcribe itself onto new mediums in combination with modern art like Lapiztola’s stencil work.

 Photo:  Sarah Race / MOA    Arts of Resistance   The Granville Island mural is an extension of the Museum of Anthropology exhibit at UBC. Here, the works of both artists are on display in two separate installations.  Lapiztola’s Installation is called "The Defence of Maize" and is a series of stencils hanging from the ceiling with light projecting through them. The images depict a woman wearing Indigenous Mexican dress pointing a rifle at three scientists injecting a substance into a cob of maize. This image demonstrates two main ideas. The first, is that it guides museum guests through the process of how Lapiztola creates their artwork, showing them the many different layers typically used in their creations. The second, addresses Indigenous empowerment and defence of ancestral culture and knowledge in the face of new liberal policies that disturb and alter the maize economy of rural Mesoamerica. The piece comments on the moral wrongness of genetically modifying maize, an important source of food that holds cultural, metaphysical, and cosmological importance in Indigenous Mexican communities.  Olinda and Silvia painted a Kené mural over two-week span. The wall is filled with bright colours and kaleidoscope-like shapes. Divided into two sections, the first half of the mural portrays an all-powerful god named Rumi, while the second is an imagined map of the Amazon.  The MOA exhibit and Granville Island mural are extremely special because they were created while Olinda and Silvia sung and wore traditional clothing. While the singing allows them see the designs they want to paint and helps bring images forward, the wearing of traditional clothing highlights the importance of Indigenous culture and nonconformity to global fashion. These techniques demonstrate that art can be a sensory experience as well as a visual one and encourage individuals to have pride in their Indigenous heritage as something that must be respected, safeguarded, and unhidden.

Photo: Sarah Race / MOA

Arts of Resistance

The Granville Island mural is an extension of the Museum of Anthropology exhibit at UBC. Here, the works of both artists are on display in two separate installations.

Lapiztola’s Installation is called "The Defence of Maize" and is a series of stencils hanging from the ceiling with light projecting through them. The images depict a woman wearing Indigenous Mexican dress pointing a rifle at three scientists injecting a substance into a cob of maize. This image demonstrates two main ideas. The first, is that it guides museum guests through the process of how Lapiztola creates their artwork, showing them the many different layers typically used in their creations. The second, addresses Indigenous empowerment and defence of ancestral culture and knowledge in the face of new liberal policies that disturb and alter the maize economy of rural Mesoamerica. The piece comments on the moral wrongness of genetically modifying maize, an important source of food that holds cultural, metaphysical, and cosmological importance in Indigenous Mexican communities.

Olinda and Silvia painted a Kené mural over two-week span. The wall is filled with bright colours and kaleidoscope-like shapes. Divided into two sections, the first half of the mural portrays an all-powerful god named Rumi, while the second is an imagined map of the Amazon.

The MOA exhibit and Granville Island mural are extremely special because they were created while Olinda and Silvia sung and wore traditional clothing. While the singing allows them see the designs they want to paint and helps bring images forward, the wearing of traditional clothing highlights the importance of Indigenous culture and nonconformity to global fashion. These techniques demonstrate that art can be a sensory experience as well as a visual one and encourage individuals to have pride in their Indigenous heritage as something that must be respected, safeguarded, and unhidden.

David Vertesi