1st Place recipient

Kukuli Velarde

I am a Peruvian-American artist. My work is a visual investigation about aesthetics, cultural survival, and inheritance. It revolves around the consequences of the European invasion of the Americas and the intricate cultural strategies of resistance and negotiation developed by its people, especially that of the original inhabitants of Perú, my country of origin. While growing up my visual surroundings were contemporary urban and rural sceneries against the monolithic presence of pre-Columbian and catholic colonial aesthetics. My work often summons their presence.

Pre-Columbian art is my aesthetic inheritance. I base my work on its ceramic and textile creations, as an act of recognition and reconnection. I embrace an aesthetics that represents the population I belong to, that suffered colonization, endures coloniality, and is not reflected in the “universality” of European/Euro-American understanding of art.

Art produced in colonized territories is often developed by populations compelled to follow an imposed aesthetics which doesn’t reflect them. It intrigues me how that is negotiated, and how creators protect their ancestral aesthetics in spite of continuous cultural alienation. I envision a pluriversal aesthetic landscape where we all have the opportunity to be ourselves without labels. I hope to insert myself in an artistic dialog started long ago by people who looked and still look like me, while representing my contemporary self, a product of colonization.