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Peruvian arts and crafts, a sign of the times

Aesthetic wonder and a vibrant sector of the Andean economy merge in a new art exhibition honoring Peru, Tradition and Entrepreneurship. The IDB Cultural Center has prepared the exhibition in celebration of the 45th annual meeting of its Board of Governors, which is being held in Lima.

The exhibit is rooted in artistic value and economic relevance, and showcases indigenous culture. In that sense, according to curator Félix Angel, Tradition and Entrepreneurship is most appropriate for the present Peruvian reality, showing increased awareness of social issues in a multicultural society.

In addition, the exhibit poses a challenge to the audience in differentiating between popular art and handicrafts. According to Angel, “tradition” calls for popular artists, and “entrepreneurship” calls for craftspeople and industrial production. From the standpoint of the essence and function of the objects themselves, there is a deep but not always visible difference between popular art and handicrafts. “Handicrafts are a by-product of popular art,” Angel said, “and for that reason it’s important to stimulate popular art since it dictates the design of handicrafts.”

Popular art forms are intended to deliver a message and are generally for personal or collective use, not for sale. By contrast, handicrafts are the result of manual or industrial production that is decorative, and they are primarily intended to be sold.

 “These art forms generate employment and income, and serve as a seedbed for initiatives and entrepreneurs,” commented Mirna Lievano de Marques, IDB External Relations Advisor. “The cultural center has complemented the IDB’s support for small and micro enterprises in all sectors, by making hundreds of small grants to local groups that are working to preserve or develop popular arts and crafts, and thus making a significant impact on community development and culture.”

In Peru, popular art is a unique manifestation of artistic expression achieved through the assimilation of elements from Western culture, combined with elements specific to the peoples of the Andes, the Pacific Coast and the Amazon Basin, according to Cecilia Bakula Budge, Director of the Museum of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru.

The exhibition includes works in metallurgy, shipibo pottery, plaster and maguey wood, gourds, masks, Sarhua planks, paintings, traditional wooden altarpieces, rugs, leatherwork, and Huamanga stone carvings.

Additional information

The exhibition was organized by the IDB Cultural Center and will be open until January 16, 2004. For additional information about the IDB Cultural Center and its programs, please call (202) 623-3774. A free 40-page full-color catalog reproducing all works in the exhibition is available to the public. For photographs, please call (202) 623-1213.
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.

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