Eliana Muchachasoy is an artist from the Camëntŝa community in the Sibundoy Valley, located in the department of Putumayo in the Colombian Amazon. From this abode, the artist uses painting and photography to reflect on the struggles for territory and the vindication of indigenous peoples. In 2018, she went to Australia to participate in an artistic residency. Her work has been exhibited in Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador and the United States.
C&AL: What led you to become an artist and how has your birth territory influenced your work?
Eliana Muchachasoy: The beginning of my artistic path can be traced back to my mother, who provided me with art supplies. Since childhood, I was very interested in painting and colors, and later I went on to study plastic arts at the National University of Colombia. At the time, I did not feel comfortable with the technique of painting and I put it aside. When I finished my degree, I returned to my native territory in Putumayo where I worked as an arts teacher. There, I took up painting again and began to make different proposals from the community based on the colors native to the territory as well as the medicine and the vindication of the indigenous struggles.
C&AL: What topics and issues do you address in your artwork?
EM: In my work I have examined issues such as mega-mining and the construction of the San Francisco bypass in Mocoa. This is a road that would cross much of the indigenous reservation and cause significant environmental impact and displacement of the community. There has been talk of carbon trading, the construction of a hydroelectric plant and of the intention to establish a military base in this area. In my paintings, I also speak of the indigenous woman, as a way of representing myself. With my work, I want to make a call to strengthen our identity and defend our territory. Especially children and young people have lost a part of our cultural values, which in turn has prevented the community from uniting to defend their land.