A Few Highlights of Sergio Jara’s Visit to Kansas

Paraguayan Sculptor Sergio Jara spent a month in Kansas this fall. Upon his return he sent pictures from his visit along with a note.

Sergio said that he was a bit nervous starting his trip to a new country, new people, new experiences and uncertain if his English was good enough.  Sergio found friendly people who opened their homes to him. He was thankful for all of the hospitality, comfortable living, interesting exchange of opinions and good practice speaking English that got better and better. He is grateful for the many new friends that he made in Kansas.

Sergio found the art facilities and professors within the Kansas universities and art institutions to be superior and a great help in his artistic training. He valued the ability to be able to choose various activities and found the opportunity to talk with other students and present his work to be extremely valuable.

Sergio particularly wanted to thank Amber Hansen and Nicholas, Judith McCrea, Eric Conrad and Yoonmi, Michael Hager, Fernando Achucarro and family, Ramiro Miranda and family, Lana Messner, Jennifer Baldwin and family, Meli Peña, Peter Haney, Miriam Mongelós and John Poertner and Edith Black and all of those people he met, gave of their time, and knowledge.

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Sergio Jara won the sculpture competition sponsored by Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano (CCPA), Comité Paraguay Kansas (CPK) and Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP). Part of his prize was to spend a month in Kansas hosted by KPP artists and supporters. His trip was also supported by Partners of the Americas as part of their education and culture travel grant program.  Kansas artists Amber Hansen, Judith McCrea of the University of Kansas, and Eric Conrad of Emporia State University deserve special recognition for all of their efforts to make Sergio’s visit rich and valuable.

Landfill Harmonic to be Featured at Tallgrass Film Festival

Kansas Connection to Oscar Candidate Featured in Tallgrass Film Festival

The story of Landfill Harmonic has built viral anticipation for this documentary that will be featured at Tallgrass Film Festival. Music inspires hope and accomplishment amid poverty and disaster in a story that continues to unfold.

Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura. This Paraguayan musical group is composed of kids living next to one of South America’s largest landfills. The unlikely orchestra plays music with instruments made entirely out of trash. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. With the guidance of their music director, they must navigate this new world of arenas and sold out concerts. However, when a natural disaster devastates their community, the orchestra provides a source of hope for the town. The film is a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.

Proposed by Paraguay as its candidate for an Oscar nomination, this heart-warming story has connections to Kansas. The Recycled Orchestra sprung from a project supported by Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP). KPP members carried donated instruments to Sounds of the Earth, founded in 2002 by Luis Szarán, Paraguayan orchestra director, composer and musical researcher. Both Sounds of the Earth and Recycled Orchestra serve to build educational and social success in children who have very limited resources.

Landfill Harmonic will be shown on Fri, Oct 16, 3:15 PM at the Orpheum Theatre and on Sun, Oct 18, 1:45 PM at the Garvey Theater 1.

The Kansas Paraguay chapter of Partners of the Americas (Partners) has been active since 1968. Partners connect people and organizations across borders to serve and to change lives through lasting friendships. KPP project areas include education, health, cultural arts, emergency preparedness and natural resources.

More details may be found at the following links and contacts.

Landfill Harmonic at the Tallgrass Film Festival

https://kansasparaguaypartners.wordpress.com/ Kansas Paraguay Partners

Ann Burger




Steve Richards



Tallgrass Film Association

Cara Kliewer





13th annual Tallgrass Film Festival

October 14-18, 2015 in Wichita, Kansas

Sergio Jara – Paraguayan Sculptor

Sergio Jara won the 7th Annual Young Artists competition sponsored by Centro Culture Paraguayo Americano (CCPA), Comité Paraguay Kansas (CPK) and Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP). 

As part of his prize Sergio spent a month in Kansas visiting artists and shared his work in Lawrence, Kansas City, Topeka, and Emporia. HIs travel was supported by POA, KPP and CPK

Eric Conrad a sculptor and Emporia State University professor assisted with the judging of the contest and traveled to Paraguay through a Partners of the Americas (POA) Education and Culture grant.  Eric is one of Sergio’s artist hosts along with Judy McCrea and Amber Hansen.

Sergio Jara

Sergio Jara

At an early age Sergio knew that he wanted to be a sculptor.  It was a natural path since his mother is an artist and his father is an engineer.  Sergio’s academic training in sculpture was at the Instituto Superior de Bellas Artes in Asuncion obtaining the title of Professor of Art.  This is Sergio’s contest winning work.

waiting for the son

Waiting for the Son.

Sergio has received international recognition for his work being invited to participate in the 8th International Art and Wine festival (2015) in Tarija, Bolivia. Here is the piece that he created.

Bolivia - Sergio

In 2014 Sergio was invited to participate in the International Wood Carving Workshop in Sichuan China to celebrate World Wood Day.  The artists were shown a pile of roots and asked to select one to make their sculpture.

Raw material

Raw material

Resulting work.

Sergio - china

Prior to Sergio’s work in China he was invited to participate in the 11th World Cultural Art Symposium in South Korea.  He was presented with a large piece of granite and asked to create a work.  Here is the result.



On August 7, 2015 Paraguayan President Horatio Cartes signed legislation that establishes September 23 as Afro-Paraguayan Cultural Day.

As an advocate Silvia Diaz de Moore is largely responsible for this legislation and is the International Representative of the Saint Baltazar Traditional Group of Kamba Cua that is one of the Afro-Paraguayan communities. 

Silvia Diaz de Moore

Silvia Diaz de Moore

Silvia Diaz de Moore said that for the Afro-descendant community this achievement puts on the calendar a day that commemorates Afro-descendants.  She explained that September 23 was chosen as the day to commemorate Afro-Paraguayan culture because of the death of Gervasio Artigas.

General José Gervasio Artigas, also known as father of Uruguayan independence, included free slave soldiers (known as los lancercos de Artigas or the lancers of Artigas) in Uruguay’s war of independence from Spain.  Silvia and the Kamba Cua community’s descendants were los lanceros de Artigas, who fought in the war of Uruguayan independence in the early 1800s.  Artigas and his soldiers, including los lanceros de Artigas, received political asylum in Paraguay around 1820, but the Paraguayan dictator at that time, José Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, would not allow them to mix with the “white” population.”  Francia provided Silvia’s ancestors land and livestock outside of Paraguay’s capital city of Asunción to survive.  Silvia’s Kamba Cua community has lived in that area ever since. Kamba Cua, is Guarani, the native indigenous language of Paraguay, and means “area of the black.”  Silvia’s descendants maintained their African heritage by performing African dance and musical traditions called Candombe.  Silvia and residents of Kamba Cua still practice Candombe and organize a festival every year in their community to celebrate their heritage and culture.  Other Afro-Paraguayan communities are in Paraguari, Emboscada, and Laurelty.  

African inspired Paraguayan Masks

African inspired Paraguayan Masks

Silva is married to Kansas native Shante Moore who graduated from Kansas State University.  Shante participated in a Kansas State community service project in Piribebuy, Paraguay in 1994. Silvia and Shante met in 2000 when he was working as a fellow in the U.S. Embassy in Asuncion. During his fellowship, he worked with Kamba Cua to set up a Kansas State Community Service Project with four students in 2001.  They later married. Shane is currently working in the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States (OAS).

Winner of Paraguayan Youth Painting Contest

Manuel Vera of Villarrica is the winner of the art contest sponsored by the bi-national Paraguay United States Cultural Center (CCPA), Comité Paraguay Kansas (CPK) and Kansas Paraguay Partners (KPP).  Manuel will receive free English instruction at CCPA before traveling to Kansas to visit with Kansas artists. The theme of the contest was lost childhood. The photos below show Manuel and a paintings he created to respond to this theme.  Judith McCrea a professor of art at the University of Kansas and long time KPP member and supporter participated as a judge in this contest.

This is one of several art contests aimed at young Paraguayan artists and sponsored by CCPA, CPK and KPP. Previously there has been a photography and a sculpture contest. Amber Hansen of Lawrence assisted the judging of the photography contest and Eric Conrad of Emporia State University assisted with the judging of the sculpture contest.

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Paraguayan Art

Kansas Paraguay Partners and Comité Paraguay Kansas have had both visual and performing artist exchanges for most of its existence. Recently there is a special visual arts project between KPP, CPK and the Paraguayan Binational Center (CCPA).  Amber Hansen and Eric Conrad have traveled to Paraguay to judge art contests and we await the visit of Sergio Jara the Paraguayan winner of the sculpture contest.  Paraguayan photographer Teresita Gonzalez has also visited Kansas recently.  All of this is to say that Paraguay has a vibrant visual art tradition.  KPP supporter Arla Jones sent this link to Paraguay’s participation in the Venice Biennale.  Take a look at some great work.


Remembering Elden Tefft: University of Kansas Sculpture and Friend of Paraguay

Earlier this month Elden Tefft died at the age of 95. Elden retired from the University of Kansas in 1990 but was an active sculptor until his death working with his son Kim in their studio close to Lawrence.

Elden made at least 3 trips to Paraguay supported in part by Kansas-Paraguay Partners. In 1984 he traveled to Asuncion to conduct a needs assessment for a bronze foundry. He met noted Paraguayan sculptor Hermann Guggiari. As his obituary (read his obituary at this link (http://obituaries.ljworld.com/obituaries/ljworld/obituary.aspx?n=elden-cecil-tefft&pid=174196559&fhid=24990) states when Elden started out bronze sculpture was considered a craft since the work had to be finished in a foundry at another location. Elden took it upon him self to help institutions construct their own foundries. He did that at the University of Kansas and the Catholic University of Asuncion among many other institutions around the world.

Elden returned to Paraguay in 1988 with his assistant Gerald Miller. They spent 7 weeks working with Hermann Guggiari constructing a metal casting foundry at the School of Sculpture/Atheneum.

In 1989 Elden returned to Paraguay to teach a 3-week class in Guggiari’s workshop. Elden taught his signature lost wax method. One of his students was Paraguayan sculpture Gustavo Beckelmann who visited Kansas in 2008 to be part of the exhibit of Paraguayan art at the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University. I hosted Gustavo in Lawrence for a couple of days and he mentioned how influential Elden Tefft was in his development as a sculpture. Gustavo and Elden were able to get together for a short visit. Gustavo told Elden about his artistic influence and showed him some of this work.

Gustavo wrote the following wonderful tribute to Elden upon hearing of his death.

Conocí a Elden Tefft en 1989 en el taller del escultor paraguayo Hermann Guggiari. él vino al Paraguay a dar un curso de fundición en bronce a la cera perdida, el año anterior había estado acá, para diseñar y construir los hornos y utensilios necesarios para esa técnica.

Elden era elegante, así como elegante era su manera de trabajar. Sólo dejaba de lado su saco y vestía un delantal, todavía con la corbata puesta, tanto para modelar o hacer un molde o fundir bronce, lo único diferente es que para la fundición el delantal era de cuero y lo acompañaba con una delicada gorra confeccionada con una hoja de diario.

Su aproximación a la cera perdida era elegante, esta es una ténica muy difícil y él conseguía con extremado trabajo reducir al mínimo las posibilidades de que la pieza tuviera problemas.

Lo volví a ver en Lawrence en 2008, ya con graves problemas de salud, pero tuvo la picardía de saludarme con un ejemplar del suplemento cultural de un diario, en que en primera página estaban él y una alumna en aquél famoso curso de fundición.

Elden y sus enseñanzas contribuyeron en gran medida a lo que es hoy mi vida y mi arte, así como me imagino que habrá sido con innumerables otros que pasaron por su cátedra. Eso hace que la memoria sea dulce y menos dolorosa. Hasta siempre Elden, maestro!


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