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News > Culture

Ecuador: Artist Weaves Art, Tech to Make Communal Tapestry

  • Beatrice Glow teaching an AR application development workshop at Casa Cruz, Museo Viviente Otavalango.

    Beatrice Glow teaching an AR application development workshop at Casa Cruz, Museo Viviente Otavalango. | Photo: L. Merinio Maldonado

Published 17 April 2018

New York-based artist Glow looked for links between art, community, and technology within the intricate weaving techniques.

A New York-based artist who spent nearly a month with an Indigenous community in Ecuador shared her ideas with the public through an event, “ACTivaciones: Art, Community, and Technology" held in the Andean capital of Quito, marking the culmination of a month-long program. 

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Beatrice Glow spent nearly a month documenting and learning about the community's rich historical narratives, in Ecuador's Otavalo, a small town located in the northern part of the Andean highlands, most known for its grand market with local, artisanal products, as part of a cultural exchange program, American Arts Incubator. 

American Arts Incubator is an "international creative exchange program that promotes cross-cultural collaborations between U.S. artists and low-income communities," through which Glow had an immersive experience learning about the local community, Casa de Artes Yarina, as well as 'Museo Viviente Otavalango' or the Living Museum of Otavalango, dedicated to preserving the culture and heritage of the Indigenous people of the region, mostly in the form of traditional weaving techniques, like backstrap weaving and more. 

The central theme of the project as Glow described was to look for links between art, community, and technology, which the artist described as found through the intricate weaving techniques practiced by some members of the community in the town, along with an old abandoned factory, San Pedro, which was also the first Industrial site in the South American country. 

"Weaving is coding in binary motions, performing mathematical calculations, enacting geometry and executing precision. It is also about transmitting oral history, ancestral knowledge and following the movements of those who came before us in the social fabric," Glow wrote, explaining the concept. 

"The project engages deeply with what it means to be an “Art, Community, and Technology” incubator in a small Andean city in Ecuador. When we think of the word technology, we often think of 20th-century innovations."  


Community Project "YUYAY" hosting an intergenerational dialogue with ex-factory workers and labor union organizers | Courtesy: Beatrice Glow 

"The program utilizes community-driven digital and new media art projects to instigate dialogue, build communities, bolster local economies, and further social innovation," Glow told teleSUR. 

The project concluded with "Three community project prototypes, each receiving a small seed-grant to sustain the next steps:  Yuyay applies augmented reality to site-specific community murals, Mama Cuchara is generating a Spanish and Kichwa language book on medicinal plants and Warmi Tukushka is staging immersive theater with rural communities for a social tourism project," Glow mentioned. 

As part of the month-long program, Glow partnered with the local community members where she taught the community members to use Augmented Reality, AR, based experiences at the museum, document oral narratives. Glow participated in several traditional ceremonies, held inter-generational dialogues to gain an understanding of the community.  

"The fierce equatorial rays, crackling fire, rising smoke, floating ashes, cultural protocols with community elders, taytas and mamakuna — these are the constant elements that have accompanied American Arts Incubator — Ecuador since we began in mid-March," Glow wrote about her experience. 

American Arts Incubator — Ecuador field trip to Ciudad Yachay. Here the participants are learning about the FabLab's facilities and business incubator programs. | Photo by L. Merinio Maldonado. 

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