Studio Everywhere

Art project at Altivas Canas in Cusco, Peru

By Gaby Orwick

After an epic dream-come-true once-in-a-lifetime experience of hiking the Inca Trail for 4-days to Machu Picchu, we had much to reflect on and be grateful for. See Mike’s videos for more on that part of our StudioEverywhere travel adventure.

An exciting opportunity was ahead and we readily shifted gear to planning for our StudioEverywhere art project: Peru edition, on our last day in the country.  We had made plans with Aracelly from The Meeting Place to take us to the Altivas Canas house, which helps provide after-school care for single mothers’ kids.  The Meeting Place, located in the San Blas square in Cusco, creates many volunteer opportunities, including support for underprivileged children.

Of course, we heard last min from the Aldea Yanapay school about going a project there also, but it would have been during the exact same time, and we sadly had to say “next time.”  Looks with a worthy cause – there are about 80 kids in their after-school program, so we’d love to inspire other volunteers visiting Cusco to help out.  Still wish we had connected sooner, but again, if we had, maybe we would not have gotten to meet the kids from the Altivas Canas house.  And that experience was priceless!

We went to Plasticos2000 (near the San Francisco plaza) to get the supplies and used every last sole we had to buy lots of paper, paint, brushes, cups, plastic plates, paper towels and all – S/175 or about $60 well spent.  Made it to San Blas just in time, hopped on a taxi with Aracelly and were off.  The unexpected bonus was we got to see more of “real Cusco” 0929151730haway from the main square and tourist areas – quite different – unfinished brick buildings, dusty roads, smoking hillside.  Knew Cusco was big but hadn’t appreciated it had over 600K permanent residents.

Quintina, who runs the Altivas Canas house, greeted with a smile, and walked us to a big aluminum door just up the street from where we met.  We entered a dirt-floor garage, sporting a big blackboard, and flanked by two small rooms and a bathroom.  The kids were doing homework when we arrived.  0929151508One little girl jumped up to give me a hug and introduce herself – Angelica – she turned out to be a fireball of energy, smiles, and enthusiasm.  Couple other kids come f0929151458b or hugs, and we tried to help with homework as we could.  Elena played with the little ones.0929151459a

We had asked Aracelly to help explain the idea of the self-portraits and how kids see themselves, and Mike started them off with drawing a big shape for their head/face, and adding the eyes, nose and mouth with a pencil before laying out the paints.  That actually worked.

It was a little hectic setting up space for all the kids in the tiny room, but again… making it work is the name of the game.  0929151531bWe ended up using less than a third of the paints we brought, as unlike prior projects, most kids were done after 1-2 paintings, so there was plenty of paper left, too, for future art making!0929151531  0929151544c

There were 13 kids in total that day, ages 2-10.  They were darling, present and adorable, and did q0929151638d~2uite the fantastic job painting with us.  They drew, mixed colors, asked questions, laughed, and were a true delight to work with.  They posed for pictures, too.

All wanted to play, and wrestle, and twirl around. 0929151725 While Mike and Elena indulged them, I took the chance to step out and get some snacks. 0929151503b We had spotted a store on the way over, and Aracelly and I were able to pick up bananas, apples, juice boxes, cereal bags, water, and a big orange cake.  The kids enjoyed the cake, juice and apples, and Quintina saved the rest for the next day’s after-school snack.

Clean up was a bit challenging as the water stopped 0929151729erunning a couple hours in, but we made do.  Used a bucket and soap to make sure everyone’s hands were clean, paper towels for the palettes and tables, and bottled water to wash the fruit.

Feels really grea0929151730ct to create these special experiences, celebrate art and a true connection with local kids everywhere we go.  Grateful for StudioEverywhere and energized and validated with every project opportunity we get!


~ Gaby Orwick | Oct 9, 2015


6 thoughts on “Art project at Altivas Canas in Cusco, Peru

  1. Andrea Vargo

    What an incredible experience. For all of you and especially Elena.
    I also enjoyed reading about the humming birds.

  2. aracelly hobby

    Thank you so much for coming to the Altivas Canas Project and being part of what we do at the Meeting Place. The kids really loved having fun with you. Come back again!

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