Kukuli Velarde’s contemporary ceramics inspired by ancient Andean art reference colonization of the Andes
Kukuli Velarde is a Peruvian-born ceramic artist whose work has gained international recognition for its intricate, expressive, and deeply personal nature. Velarde's art is inspired by the ancient art of the Andes mountains, which she combines with modern techniques to create pieces that are both timeless and contemporary.
Comparing the art of the ancient Moche culture of the Andes, above on the left, we see that same stirrup spout connected to the ceramic body able to hold the sacred chicha corn beer or, in other cases, left empty and interred with the deceased. Now, as we look at Velarde's modern ceramic on the right, just past the figure's turned leg, we see the birth canal telling us that this is a woman. Importantly for pieces like this, Velarde has used derogatory titles. She titled this artwork, Chola Puteadora Grabby Needs to be Put on Her Place Metale Mano.
The word Chola in much of Latin America outside of the USA and Mexico can often be a derogatory term for a woman of indigenous descent or of mixed heritage; one parent indigenous, and the other is of European descent. The word Puteadora means whore; thus, in part, she has titled her artwork indigenous whore grabby needs to be put on her place put your hand in her. As for The title and its derogatory nature, the artist tells us,
"I purposely use slurs I think they faithfully portray the racial, social, and economic divide of a population that has learned to hate its indigenous roots, thanks to colonialism, and the modern world, its product."
One of the most striking aspects of Velarde's work is the way in which it references the colonization of Latin America and the enduring legacy of this period in the region's history. Many of her pieces depict figures with European features, often wearing traditional colonial-era clothing. This serves as a reminder of the cultural and societal changes that occurred during the colonial period and the ongoing impact of these events on contemporary Latin American society.
Velarde's art is also deeply rooted in the traditions of the Andes, with many of her pieces incorporating motifs and symbols from this region. These references serve as a tribute to the rich cultural history of the Andes and provide a connection to the past for Velarde and her audience.
Despite the often heavy themes of her work, Velarde's ceramics are characterized by a sense of joy and playfulness. She frequently incorporates bright colors and bold patterns into her pieces, adding a sense of whimsy and delight. This is especially evident in her series of ceramic dolls, which are brightly colored and whimsical, yet also imbued with deeper meaning and cultural significance.