EL 23 DE SETIEMBRE DE CADA AÑO COMO DÍA DE LA CULTURA AFROPARAGUAYA

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.

http://theculturetrip.com/south-america/paraguay/articles/paraguay-and-the-south-american-encyclopedic-palace-at-the-venice-biennale/

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!

Artist Exchanges Between Kansas and Paraguay

Below is a link to a nice article that appeared in ABC Color about Kansas artist Eric Conrad and his visit to Paraguay.  I want to use this opportunity to mention some of the artist exchanges that have occurred between Kansas Paraguay Partners and Comite Paraguay Kansas.  It is a remarkable history all made possible through travel grants from Partners of the Americas.There have also been many musical artist exchanges. I will review those another time. I will miss some artists so feel free to let me know who I missed.

Eric Conrad is an art professor at Emporia State University and is part of the most recent project where Kansas artists are helping judge contests in Paraguay with the winners coming to Kansas in the future.  Amber Hansen traveled to Paraguay a few months ago as part of this same project.  She helped judge a photography contest.  Judith McCrea is an art professor at the University of Kansas (KU) who is helping with this project and has traveled to Paraguay several times and hosted the well respected artist Carlos Colombino in Kansas.  The work that he created while in Kansas is part of the collection of the Spencer Museum of Art at KU. Another very recent Paraguayan artist who visited Kansas is Teresita Gonzalez who presented her photographs of the Paraguayan Hospital de Clinicas.

The ABC Color article mentions other Paraguayan sculptors who met with Eric.  One of those is Gustavo Beckelmann who visited Kansas during the Paraguayan art exhibit held at Washburn University in 2008.  He in turn was greatly influenced by Elden Teft a KU professor who traveled to Paraguay many years ago to teach sculpture.  Gustavo took one of Elden’s classes and was greatly influenced by what he learned.

The art exhibit at the Mulvane Museum at Washburn University in 2008 was curated by Reinhild Janzen who was director of the museum.  She travel to Paraguay and met many artists and brought back works that helped make the exhibit a success.  Speaking of Paraguayan art exhibits in Kansas, there was an exhibit of 20 pieces way back in 1969. This exhibit was at the Wichita Public Library.

Gene Ernst was a professor at Kansas State University who traveled to Paraguay to make sketches from the Jesuit Missions. He turned his sketches into beautiful note cards that I still use and treasurer.

A wonderful large sculpture along Interstate 70 was constructed by Herman Guggiari who was hosted many years ago by Ross and Marianna Beach.  The Beaches also were critically important in the creation of a museum of wood carved saints in Santa Maria de Fe.  The saints were carved by indigenous Paraguayans during the time of the Jesuit Missions.

Let me know what I missed.

Here is the link to the ABC Color article.

http://www.abc.com.py/edicion-impresa/artes-espectaculos/intercambio-a-traves-de-la-escultura-1297490.html

Eric Conrad Gets Down, Dirty and Creative

Emporia State University art professor Eric Conrad is visiting Paraguay with a Partners of the Americas travel grant.  In addition to helping judge a sculpture contest he went creative with pottery.  Here are some more photos from our partners at Comite Paraguay Kansas.

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Kansas Artist Helps Judge Sculpture Contest in Paraguay

Eric Conrad who teaches are at Emporia State University is visiting Paraguay under a Partners of the Americas travel grant to assist the judging of a sculpture contest sponsored by Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano (CCPA) and Comite Paraguay Kansas (CPK).  The winner of the context will visit Kansas at a later date. Here are a few photos supplied by our partners at CPK.

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