“Argentina is a beautiful and diverse country ideally suited for the study of art and anthropology from the museums and street art of its capital, Buenos Aires, to the traditional crafts of the Wichi and Calchaquí peoples of the Northwest,” Rachel Green, professor of art, said. Green accompanied the students with faculty member Barbara Bruno to Argentina.
Students developed relationships with the locals and their communities through service projects and were able to learn about the culture from the people themselves. “Students then incorporated aspects of what they experienced into their artwork and display the works in an art exhibit at Armstrong’s Fine Arts Gallery in order to share what they have learned with the Armstrong campus,” Green added.
Hoyt Ramey is studying at Armstrong for a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and went to Argentina over the summer. His photographs are featured in the gallery and they capture the people of Argentina.
“I work quick,” Ramey said. “We were always moving, so I took photographs of people who stood out to me.”
One photograph that Ramey took was of an old Argentinean man with a cigarette. “We were hanging out by the bus and he was really drunk and chewing on cocoa leaves. He was all in our face and he wanted a cigarette. My friend gave one to him and I shot it,” he said.
In addition to photographs, there are sculptures, jewelry, mixed media, and graphic design pieces in the gallery that each have their own unique story. Students visited several indigenous communities to learn from master artisans. This year’s exhibit highlights the work of the Wichi and Calchaquí.
Students are auctioning select craft items in a silent auction that will end October 3 at 7:00 p.m. All proceeds will be returned to the artisans’ communities to help them maintain their culture and traditions and promote their crafts.
“To work with the Calchaquí ,” explained Green, “they traveled to a valley in the Andes mountains to spend four days on a family ranch. While there, they learned about traditional weaving techniques and took several trekking trips to photograph secret lagoons and caves. To work with the Wichi and Guarani, they traveled to the border with Bolivia, an area of tropical forests called the yungas.”
The Argentina Study Abroad program is open to students of all majors and is looking for participants open to new experiences. Previous art experience and knowledge of Spanish are not requirements. They will be leaving June 8 – June 30, 2015, and application deadlines are February 2.
“I definitely recommend study abroad,” Ramey added. “It makes an impression on you. You make lasting friends and the people that you encounter you’ll remember forever. You always remember the people.”
The exhibition will continue until October 3. The gallery is open from 9 a.m to 5 p.m on weekdays and admission is free.