Laura Anderson Barbata ~ New York / Mexico

Laura Anderson Barbata works in photography, video, drawing, sculpture, installation, and public art.

Columbia College Chicago, Interdisciplinary Arts: "Best known for her series of collaborative community-directed projects, Laura Anderson Barbata’s work finds expression in the service of cultural exploration and group participation. Ms. Barbata works within a wide variety of cultures to create art that has great meaning and relevance for her collaborators.

"Ms. Barbata was born in Mexico City and currently divides her time between New York and Mexico. She has exhibited widely, having shown her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, among many other locations."


By Laura Anderson Barbata and Yanomami Owë Mamotima
Amazonas, Venezuela: Laura Anderson Barbata, 2000.
Edition of 50.

12.5 x 9"; 8 leaves including front and back covers. Waterbased inks on shiki and handmade abaca. Hand carved linoleum plates. Handsewn binding with Kurathasl thread with wood segment. Text in Yanomami. Colophon in English laid in. Translation sheet laid in. In 14 x 9.75 x 2" custom-built clamshell box covered in imported red canapeta cloth. Name of project and project coordinator hot stamped in black on lid of box.

Laura Anderson Barbata, Project Description: "Yanomami Owë Mamotima is a papermaking project in the Amazon of Venezuela led by Laura Anderson Barbata. The project began in 1992 training the Yanomami Community of Platanal in the Venezuelan Amazon teaching the fabrication of handmade paper from rain forest fibers and recycled materials. The community is then encouraged to document their oral histories and traditions in their native language, thereby fostering self-expression through the integration of these documents into the bookmaking process for use in community schools. The paper is handmade by the Yanomami, printed with hand carved linoleum block and bound using a natural wood spine (traditionally used for bows and arrows), painted with onoto and sewn with kurathasi fiber string. These activities are carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Inparques, and the Vicariato Apostólico de Venezuela."

Laura Anderson Barbata, Shapono Book Project: "After traveling to Venezuela in 1992, artist Laura Anderson Barbata became interested in the Yanomami community and their unique culture. Utilizing her artistic background, she began teaching the Yanomami papermaking. Both young and old were trained to harvest, cook, and beat local fibers such as shiki, kurathasi and abaca. Using her own equipment, Barbata taught them how to pull sheets of paper on traditional western style papermaking moulds. Eventually bookmaking and printmaking were introduced to enhance their knowledge and skills. Under the direction of Barbata, the Yanomami began the Shapono book project a documentation in words and images, of the customs of the Yanomami people.

"Shapono is a six-page book written in the Yanomami Language and illustrated by the children of the community. The story is one traditionally passed on orally by the elders of the community and transcribed by Yanomami scholars. The book illustrates the construction of the first Yanomami house, as the Yanomami were taught to build by the God brothers: Omawë and Yoawë. Workshops were held in which the children of the community drew passages from the story. The story Shapono, meaning Community House, is part of the creation beliefs of the Yanomami people.

"This project investigates simultaneously the balance between the technological and cultural advancement of the people and environmental protection of the area. The project is teaching the community effective methodology of handmade paper in a situation where no electricity is available. This project gives both an effective way to deal with trash and packaging created from foreign materials and empowers the community to create their own means of communicating ideas and images through papermaking, printmaking, and image making.

"In the year 2000, The Ministry of Education of Venezuela held its annual book of the year competition, Centro Nacional del Libro, el Mejor Libro del Año (National Book Center, Best Book of the Year). Shapono, was entered into this competition and won first place in the category of handmade books. This award has been vital to the project because it has helped to strengthen the commitment of the participants and the respect and interest gained from those living outside the Amazon has grown in a positive way."




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Page last update: 05.17.12
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