Never before in my life have I gotten to work so closely and so often with many artisans, indigenous crafters, seamstresses, and entrepreneurs. My Peace Corps volunteer service encouraged me to work with all sorts of people, but little did I know that my creative left-sided brain would kick-in full speed. I’m very grateful that I had the time and space to allow my creativity to bloom, especially to find and connect with my innovative entrepreneurial spirit.
The following is a spotlight on a couple of projects I started, collaborated on, or supported along that ignited my creative side.
Carnival Season 2017 – Dance Group & Costumes
Creativity started early into my service for Carnival season in January to February of 2017. I worked closely with a group of mostly female students who wanted to perform dance for Carnival at their school. They wanted a costume just like my red leotard, so they raised money and then got the costumes tailor-made. I barely lifted a finger except for coaching and choreography, as well as motivation to fundraise.
At the same time, I did design a new dance costume with funds from a community member called Delia Barros. Originally it was meant for that carnival, but they were not completed on time. The students did a much better job organizing their costumes, while I was still learning the ropes of how to approach the seamstress and how to build a relationship with her in order to get this project done. My yellow Afro-Colombian style youth costume designs along with the yellow, blue, and red children’s Afro-Colombian designs were used much later, most notably for a Spring Break Afro-Colombian Pride performance, and for an Independence Day performance in July 2017.
For the actual Carnival in Barranquilla, two of my fellow volunteer friends and I wanted to get matching costumes done together. Yessy Lazaro spearheaded the project after we decided on an overall design with the colors red, yellow, and gold. She bought the fabric in Barranquilla, and then took it back to her site placement of Aracataca to get the outfits made by a seamstress. We had the most amazing time the weekend of the event.
Eunishi Radm – Wayuu Indigenous Artisanal Small Business
For about a year I worked closely with a Wayuu indigenous woman, Luz Darys Martinez. She and her mother Nuris Epiyayu hand crafted knitted products like the famous Colombian Wayuu mochila bags. Because I saw that the mochila market was highly saturated where competition continued to drive down prices, I tried to think of unique product ideas to inspire them. Luz Darys was inspired by a cloth necklace I wore from Brazil, and I also gave her other necklace ideas inspired by a logo I created for her business
Mochila Straps Wall Art Piece
Since the beginning of my service, I had envisioned a wall art piece inspired by the unique and bright-colored knitting of the Wayuu mochilas. During my serviceI was picking out mochila straps that hadn’t been attached to a bag yet. I was slowly collecting 2-3 straps at a time each time I went to Riohacha for the day, which was about once every 2 weeks. In order to not spend all of my volunteer stipend money at the same time, I didn’t buy all straps at the same time, plus I also wanted to order special-made larger straps 2x or 3x the normal size. I then found a broken broom stick, and started attaching each strap with clothes pins. I loved the final product, and presented the idea for other Wayuu artesanas to make and sell. I’m sad to report that the wall art piece got lost after we moved out for medical evacuation, but I’m glad I have photo evidence and also Wayuu artisanal contacts that I could reach out to should I ever want to make it again.