Lessons from Building a Cabin

I’ve resided at the residency at ArteSumapaz for over three and a half years, and in the process, discovered that while I crave community, I need my own space. I’m not quite ready to construct my own house, so embarked on building a small house, or cabin, that afterwards can be another space in the residency. And while I had my share of experience with construction back in upstate New York, the Colombian approach to construction is quite different. Thus, in short, I’ve learned a lot, and would like to share some of those experiences in this post.

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The Pets of ArteSumapaz

We have three dogs and two cats at ArteSumapaz. In reality, we don’t think of them so much as “our” pets, as we are their humans. The dogs, who are all rescues, have an incredible amount of liberty, and will happily follow you to town.

Ray Chimba

Ray Chimba was the first of our dogs. He trotted up the driveway one day, skinny as could be, and terribly skittish. Since then, he’s gained some weight, and has been the muse of many a drawing and song. The phrase “Re Chimba” is a colombian colloquialisms  for “really cool,” but also not considered polite in some circles.

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LETS COLLECTIVELY FIGHT THE CISHETEROPATRIARCHY! (It affects us ALL, not just trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people)

ArteSumapaz as a community acknowledges that gender and sex are not binary,  and not everyone identifies as a man or woman / male or female. Neither are we en titled to know anyone’s gender nor sex nor sexuality and we must not assume! Assuming that being cisgender and heterosexual is the norm is very harmful and contributes to homophobia and transphobia which very commonly turn in to violent  hate crimes and deprivation of basic rights. 

Some helpful and important vocabulary: 

Transgender: relating to a person who’s gender identity does not correspond with  their assigned sex at birth. 

Cisgender: relating to a person who’s gender identity does correspond with their  assigned sex at birth.  

Non-binary: an umbrella term for gender identities outside the gender binary  (there are several) 

Ways to show up as an ally 

  • Practice using various pronouns. 
  • Don’t apologize if you mess up, just correct yourself. 
  • Correct other people if they misgender someone. 
  • Don’t assume anyone’s gender nor sexuality. Use they/them pronouns and gender  neutral language until they / someone close to them tells you their pronouns.
  • Normalize introducing yourself with your pronouns and adding them to your social  media bios etc., this creates a safe space for gender variant people to do so.
  • Educate yourselves and those around you, have difficult conversations. It is not the  job of LGBTQIA+ people to educate you. 
  • Don’t impose cis and heteronormativity on anyone, especially on kids. They are  never too young to learn about various gender and sexual identities.
  • Listen to and amplify LGBTQIA+ voices, especially BIPOC and disabled ones.
  • Use inclusive language, don’t forget that trans men and non-binary people  menstruate and give birth too. 
  • Acknowledge your privilege – it is a privilege to connect with the gender assigned  to us at birth, it is a privilege to not be misgendered. 
  • Make sure your feminism is intersectional, the patriarchy does not only affect cis  women.

GENDER NEUTRAL VOCABULARY

English: 

  • Friends 
  • Folks 
  • Comrades
  • Loved ones 
  • Theydies and gentlethems
  • People / Person 
  • Partner 
  • Sibling 
  • Parent 
  • Child 
  • Royalty 
  • Leige 
  • Highness 
  • Wonderfulness 
  • Excelence 
  • Goddexx 

Spanish: 

  • Diose 
  • Linde 
  • Hermose 
  • Guape / Guapi 
  • Mx. (pre x) 
  • Hije 
  • Hermane 
  • Amigue / Amigui Veci 
  • Chique / Chiqui Latine 
  • Elles 
  • Seño / Señore Marica 
  • Amor 
  • Tie 
  • Compañere 

GENDER NEUTRAL PRONOUNS: 

They / them / ze / zir / xe / hir / ae AND MANY MORE (English) Elle (Spanish)

May we work to create a safe and nurturing environment for all, free of  any form of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or any kind of  discrimination. We are not perfect and there will always be new things  for us to learn and unlearn due to years of societal conditioning. May  we stay open-minded and help each other grow and be aware and  concious of all identities and expressions. May we collectively  dismantle all oppressive systems, and make space for all marginalized  communities and folks!

By. Minelle

A Small Piece of the More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible

I’m reading Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore from the  extensive Arte Sumapaz library, enjoying the ideas about working with the soul’s shadows; to ask how our shadows might help,  to acknowledge longing, desire, anger, melancholy or numerous aspects of ourselves, in favor of becoming intimate with this facet of our personal diamond.  What does our soul want from us and how can we fully express its longing as much as possible in this incarnation? 

Deciding to explore my true nature has meant dropping most other things I used to know and value – productivity, money, reputation, work, home – to explore a sense of creative freedom. I was a good-enough citizen for so long, holding a house, relationships, work and life together. Then, undoing and dismantling, seeing a picture of what I’d been unconsciously driven by, healing the unconscious and erotic, leaving corporate life to become a sex coach. While that jigsaw may never be complete, it’s good enough for now. 

I lived abroad in my twenties as a teacher and always had a sense I’d do that again in my fifties. Now I’m beginning a future jigsaw, carrying a piece – me – in my hand, wondering who, what or where the four pieces are around me, what frame and picture I might be a part of. It’s daunting and full of potential, leaving the UK in a pandemic to live in other parts of this beautiful world. 

Working with my renaissance-soul creative personality instead of attempting to deny or transcend it, is helpful. Giving in to myself, no longer berating myself for being a dilettante, accepting that multiplicity is enhanced by depth. Dealing with three or four projects is fun, having something of a broad remit for myself here, at peace that only some of the daily fifty ideas before breakfast might be fulfilled in this lifetime. If this sounds like you too you could be at home here amongst the other renaissance souls, polymaths and creative visionaries. 

I can get so in my head with ideas and forget to notice that existence is miraculous. While pondering what to write today in this safe Andes bubble, I hear birdsong from little red or yellow flitting feathers, there’s a hawk above circling the territory, countless butterflies and black and yellow long-bodied wasps in a valley of misty restful green. The internet went down in a storm, so it’s a time to enjoy digging the garden, wellies and shorts on, talking immersive theatre, gender identity and philosophy with the volunteers and artists. It’s good to begin to meet new people again – thoughtful, healing, questioning – I’m in awe of the distance they’ve come, the humility in recognising all was not well, commiting to the journey to wholeness, contributing to being the change.

Reading Joanna Macy, World as Lover, World as Self, I like her insight into three ways we can make a contribution to a greater reset: Shift in Consciousness – self awareness in a personal spiritual revolution, Holding Actions – stopping future destruction with activism and Structural Change – building new models. Being at ArteSumapaz where we are building new models of possibility in living, in art, in community, I feel less helpless and furious. This place holds a high vision, there’s cause for optimism. Awareness and pleasure activism is probably where my re-emerging joyful, practical nature contributes best, I may never get to the barricades. Being at ArteSumapaz, where we have open art crits, share ideas, offer mini-workshops, we see and support each other’s creativity. Sharing my writing from my yet-to-be-published book with the group is a gift of considered feedback. It’s creative refuge in a Colombian paradise. I’ve been happy every day here. Realising it’s been a while since I’ve felt that, I’m in deep appreciation of the space ArteSumapaz holds, to give us glimpses of what might be possible in a new model for future living. 

AIR: Matt Lasensky

“I studied engineering and was in a rough place during my studies. I’ve always loved drawing and decided to take an art class and it changed my life. Art has been my greatest hobby since and continues to be an outlet for me. I’ve mostly worked in factories and manufacturing settings and I’ve always loved machinery. I find old, rusty industrial equipment aesthetically beautiful in a wabi-sabi kinda way. Conversely, being in nature is my other great passion, which is what drew me to ArteSumapaz.”   

From: Pennsylvania, USA

Artistic Preference or Outlets: Mixed media

Three Words: Cleansing; Peaceful; Stimulating

Most Beloved Memory at ArteSumapaz: A percussive jam session on the patio under incredible stars. Great music, people, conversations, and overall time well spent

https://mattlasensky.myportfolio.com/

AIR: Kirsty Nicoll

Kirsty Nicoll is a Scottish artist based in Leiden, The Netherlands. She graduated from Leith School of Art in July 2021. Prior to this, she received an MA in Art History from Glasgow University in 2017. Since leaving university in 2017, her main focus has been travelling, working at a seasonal job in London between trips. In 2019, a month-long residency at ArteSumapaz reignited her love for art and led her to apply to art school. She has a background in textiles, designing and selling fabric at her family’s linen mill in Fife. 

From: Scotland

Artistic Preference or Outlets: Painting, analogue photography, silk screen printing

Three Words: Enlightening; Nourishing; Grounding

Most Beloved Memory at ArteSumapaz: Watching the sunsets over the gorgeous mountain view together every night.

https://www.kirstynicoll.com/

https://www.instagram.com/kirstynicoll.art/

AIR: Antoine Sugita

Born in northern France into a musical family, Antoine Sugita began studies in piano at the age of four. Winner of a competition in contemporary music interpretation at ten, he completed his studies at the Conservatoire de Lille with Alain Raes. Antoine’s passion for improvisation became clear with time, and his music has been chosen for several short films. Filled with a warm and peaceful atmosphere, Antoine is now focusing on both music production and composition. A new album will be launched beginning of 2022 with the purpose of showing many facets of his music.

From: Lille, France

Artistic Preference or Outlets: Music

Three Words: Trust; Simplicity; Balance

Most Beloved Memory at ArteSumapaz: The simplicity of Ric and I sharing both Christmas and New Year’s Eve by ourselves, with good food, beers and a chess board

“As a ‘new artist’, I was in this new phase of sharing my music, the open/true heart and speech of Ric, really accompanied me in this journey of launching my first album of improvisations. As a symbolic act, I put Ric’s favorite improvisation (of mine) in the album, called Grateful. Ric also made the cover of my album! This experience could not have been better.”

https://www.facebook.com/makimusic.prod

AIR: Poppy Litchfield

Poppy Litchfield is an artist whose work examines the passing of time and its interaction with environment and human experiences. Working across the mediums of print, installation and video she aims to engage audience with interactive and event-based work. She received her BSc in Psychology, Durham University, before working in artist residency spaces. Central to her work is an ethos on communality, considering how space can change and facilitate exchange. Poppy is currently doing a Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art.

From: Derby, United Kingdom

Artistic Preference or Outlets: Print, installation, video

Three Words: Connecting; Nurturing; Community

Most Beloved Memory at ArteSumapaz: Countless kitchen moments preparing food together whilst dancing in the kitchen.

https://poppylitchfield.com/

www.instagram.com/poppy_litchfield

AIR: George Crotty

Canadian cellist/composer George Crotty’s inquisitive eclecticism embraces fiddle-derived ornamentation, the agile one-finger gestures of Indian classical music, adapted electric guitar techniques, and the bold articulations of jazz bass. One half of the Loose Roots Duo with West Coast fiddler Gabriel Dubreuil, and leader of his titular world-jazz inflected Trio, the Toronto-based Crotty’s modernist genre-bending is heavily influenced by his hometown’s vibrant pluralism.

From: Toronto, Canada

Artistic preference or outlets: Cello, improvisation, performance, recording

Three Words: open; heart; presence

Most beloved memory at ArteSumapaz: a viaje under the stars

“Rick, Pedro, and the current residents when I visited pre-covid were so warm, generous, encouraging. I cherish the experience, and look forward to visiting again.”

https://www.georgecrotty.com/

www.facebook.com/georgecrottycello

www.instagram.com/georgecrottycello

www.youtube.com/georgecrotty

Healing Trauma through Art

In January 2020, my body was breaking and I had no idea why.

It started with drastic weight loss, grinding my teeth at night, constant headaches, and stomachaches. I wasn’t sleeping at night and was drinking too much. I was irritable, picking fights with my loved ones, and felt the need to isolate myself. My only hobby was watching Netflix. When I went to my doctor with my list of concerns, I burst into tears because I couldn’t understand why everything felt so messed up inside. She diagnosed me with depression and listed the recommended treatment options.

Even then I knew; her diagnosis was only a piece of the picture. 

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