Queens Museum turns its attention to Peru

By Shanna Fuld

The cultural traditions of the Andes will be on display in Flushing Meadows Corona Park this weekend, when the Queens Museum plays host to a Peruvian celebration of art, theater and music.

A joint partnership between the museum and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s Peru Pachamama program, the Peruvian Culture Celebration provides families with a chance to learn about the country’s culture through activities and performances.

“We have so many immigrants from Andean countries,” Prerana Reddy, director of public projects and community engagement for the Queens Museum, said.

Reddy said these Andean groups figured prominently in the Queens Museum’s decision to host the festival. Additionally, putting on the cultural entertainment was not as difficult as it might have been in other places.

“We are lucky to have so many local groups in New York,” she said.

Peruvian American artist Aymar Ccopacatty will hold a workshop to share his work in plasti-collage, a process which uses leftover plastics to create new items. Ccopacatty developed this art form after noticing the large amount of trash around his hometown of Puno, which is nestled on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the largest inland lake in the world. He began turning that garbage into collages, using plastic bags along with other scraps to create vibrantly colored pictures. Employing people who are native to the Puro region to participate in the project, he also makes souvenirs. Through these projects, Ccopacatty works to engage with the local craftsmen as well as to help the environment by picking up, washing and recycling plastics that have traveled down several rivers that flow into the lake and polluted the area. By working on these projects, Ccopacatty successfully creates community engagement with the local craftsmen. The lake is home to many islands woven from reeds where the Uros Indian fled to escape the Inca Empire and still live in reed houses. Ccopacatty learned how to weave from his grandmother and uses that process for the plastics.

“I hope to continue to get to know the Andean community in Queens. I know they’re here and that we are always the minority vs. other immigrant groups,” Ccopacatty said.
The four Andean nations are Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia.

Ccopacatty says that he loves Queens because it’s the only place in the United States where he can eat choclo, the traditional large kernel corn.

“What he was trying to do is give local people something to do and utilize their own craft traditions and also at the same time preserve the natural habitat and lake,” Reddy said.

Also slated to appear is Abya Yala Arte y Cultura, a non-profit cultural organization that celebrates native identities within Latin America through theater performances. The group has created a routine, titled “We Still Are,” based on Jose Maria Argueda’s poem “A Nuestro Padre Creador Tupac Amaru,” which uses live music, theater, poetry and dance to express the struggles immigrants face.

The Smithsonian had been looking for venues in New York City to hold the Peruvian festival, and the Abya Yala group, having worked with the Queens Museum before, suggested the museum as an appropriate site.

Rounding out the day will be Mosaicos Andinos, a Queens dance company founded in 2002. This company, which has also worked with the museum before, has the goal of keeping the spirit and tradition of the Andean ancestral dances alive for new generations. They will perform “La Marinera Limeña” and “Huayrsh Moderno,” followed by an interactive dance workshop. The dances the company will perform are representative of the highlands, the coast and the tropics of Peru.

Although the day’s event is geared toward children between 4 and 12 years old, Reddy said there will be activities for people of all ages.

“We see this event as a family activity and it should be engaging for caregivers as well,” she said.

If You Go

Peruvian Culture Celebration

When: Sunday, July 12, from 1:30 pm – 4 pm

Where: Queens Museum, New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Cost: Free

Contact: (718) 592-9700

Website: www.queensmuseum.org