With the generous support of the Penelope Mason Dissertation Research Award, doctoral candidate Gabriela Germana conducted research towards the advancement of her dissertation in the cities of Lima, Sarhua and Ayacucho, Peru during the fall 2017 semester. Her project, “Doing It Their Own Way: From Traditional Aesthetics to Artistic Images. The Paintings of Sarhua, Peru,” advised by Professor Michael Carrasco, examines the history of the paintings made by Sarhuino artists in the peasant community of Sarhua from the nineteenth century and in the capital city of Lima from the 1970s. Gabriela investigates the manner in which these paintings reveal shifts in social power through the appropriation and re-elaboration of modern Western aesthetics and knowledge. Her research also considers how the paintings made in Lima have circulated through different regimes of value, being framed as cultural heritage, tourist art, and art pieces. Through this research she seeks to analyze Andean aesthetic production under a decolonial perspective, and to tie this production in dialogue with recent theories of global art and the anthropology of art.
In Lima, Gabriela interviewed Sarhuino migrant artists and spend time in their workshops documenting their creative processes. She also went to the Peruvian National Library to research Peruvian magazines and journals published in the 1970s and 80s in the context of the Military Government and their nationalistic policies in favor of peasant lifestyles. In Sarhua, she visited painters’ workshops, documented the spaces of the town, engaged with local people, and participated in practices performed by Sarhuinos, including an enactment of the ceremony of the delivery of the painted beam. Finally, in Ayacucho, Gabriela conducted interviews with other group of Sarhuino painters, and researched the colonial history of Sarhua at the Regional Archive and the Archbishop’s Archive.
During her stay in Lima, Gabriela presented two papers related to her dissertation: “The Visual Culture during Juan Velasco Alvarado’s Goverment: The Graphics, the Vindication of the Andean Arts, and the Beginning of the Paintings of Sarhua in Lima” in the conference “Interculturalidad y Arte Peruano” organized by the Centro Cultural de Bellas Artes, and “Encounters and Frictions: The Construction of Discourses and the Circulation of the Paintings of Sarhua in Lima” in the Seminar of Audiovisual Anthropology “Imagen, arte y música en la antropología” in the Faculty of Social Sciences of San Marcos National University.