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Faces of Northeastern Brazil

February 21 to April 12, 2002

Honoring the City of Fortaleza, the State of Ceará and Brazil
on occasion of the Inter-American Development Bank
43rd Annual Meeting of Governors


The exhibit brings together around eighty wooden sculptures depicting animals, fantastic imagery and religious figures, toys, ceramic plaques, masks, and an assortment of objects associated with popular traditions and imagination in Brazil.


For those who have visited the Brazilian "Body and Soul" exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, or "Virgin Territory" at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., "Faces of Northeastern Brazil," which will open to the public on February 21 at the Art Gallery of the Cultural Center of the Inter-American Development Bank, in Washington, will be a fascinating experience that completes the picture about Brazil's complex multicultural expression. And for those who have not had any previous reference, the exhibit will definitely delight them as well.

Faces of Northeastern Brazil, an exhibition featuring eighty works by more than forty popular and folk artists from Ceará in the Northeastern part of Brazil, will be on display at the IDB Cultural Center Art Gallery, in Washington DC, between February 21 and April 12, 2002.


Mirna Liévano de Marques, External Relations Advisor of the IDB says, "These handicrafts exemplify the synergistic amalgam of native, Iberian and African influences, and credit the entrepreneurial spirit and inventiveness of the artists. The Cearenses demonstrate how it is possible to reconcile economic sustainability with cultural tradition for the benefit of thousands of people in the region."


The exhibition has been organized by the IDB Cultural Center in honor of the City of Fortaleza, capital of the State of Ceará, located in Northeastern Brazil, on occasion of the 43rd Annual Meeting of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank taking place there in March of this year. Félix Angel, the Curator of the IDB Cultural Center, and Dodora Guimaraes, Chief of the Raimundo Cela Visual Arts Center in Fortaleza, worked together to select the pieces.


All artists and craftspeople represented are long-time practitioners of their skills. Some belong to the Father Cícero Association of Craftspeople, and their entire families have derived their sustenance from crafts for generations. Such is the case with the Master NOZA Center of Popular Culture of Juazeiro no Norte, a village in the southern part of Ceará State. The craftspeople usually sell their work at CEART, a state government sponsored cooperative that helps to promote their products and provide better resources without tampering with their creativity.


Outstanding among the pieces in the exhibition is a real Jangada, the boat developed and used by the local fisherman which has become the symbol of the State of Ceará. Completely crafted by hand, these unassuming vessels sail unchallenged under the control of skillful barefoot seamen. It is not rare for the fishermen to spend up to three days at sea catching fish before returning to shore. Because of its geographical location, the coastal region of Ceará is extremely windy, to the point that the only valid competition celebrated in South America as part of the world windsurfing competition takes place in Fortaleza every October.


Another fascinating piece is Manoel Graciano´s band of five-musician, ressembling the traditional groups who play to accompany local festivities. The body of each figure has been carved out of a piece of wood, including the hats, but the arms and instruments have been attached. Francisco Cardoso Graciano´s fantastic sculptures combine animals in strange associations, and are breathtaking. Equally intense, but more charming are the carved and polychrome figures by the revered Joâo Cosmo Félix (a.k.a. NINO). We are enchanted by the tin boat by Jose Mauricio dos Santos, the plane and trucks by anonymous makers, and the group of ceramic plaques recreating divine as well as mundane scenes by the family members Maria Cândido Monteiro, Maria Lourdes Cândido and Maria do Socorro Cândido. The Flamengo, an ensemble of eleven soccer club players, inlcuding the goalkeeper, by Cícero Ferreira Cardoso, and the Macumba old couple by Timóteo are sure winners.


Photographs of the works are available upon request. For photographs please call 202 623 1213 or 623 3325. The IDB Cultural Center Art Gallery is located at 1300 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. and is open five days a week, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., free of charge. The nearest Metro station is Metro Center (13th Street exit).

For guided tours of groups of ten or more (in English and Spanish) and additional information about the IDB Cultural Center and its programs, please call (202)623-3774.

The Cultural Center home page is located at:
E-mail address:

IDB Cultural Center contacts:

- Félix Angel, General Coordinator and Curator (202) 623-3325
- Soledad Guerra, Assistant General Coordinator (202) 623-1213
- Anne Vena, Concerts and Lectures Coordinator (202) 623-3558
- Elba Agusti, Administrative and Cultural Development in the
Field Program Assistant (202) 623-3774
-Susannah Rodee, IDB Art Collection Assistant (202) 623-3870

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