AWA is both a cultural project and a gallery of art founded by curator/producer, author/artist, and Indigenous rights advocate Patsy Craig. We are based in the ancient capital of Cusco in the Peruvian Andes- one of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas conceived as the belly button of the world. From this vantage point, our work focuses on environment, Indigeneity, ancestral knowledge, and decolonisation. Through research, art, and education we aim to provide unique access to cultural traditions that acknowledge, enrich and perpetuate sustainability and biodiversity as the means to ensure mutual flourishing. Today, such traditions are calling out to be seen, understood and honoured.
AWA's long-term goal is to work as a bridge within a wide array of Indigenous communities throughout the Americas to share Indigenous world views and assist in empowering Indigenous leadership. Initially we are concentrating our efforts on the Peruvian Amazon, a central focus of the most consequential geopolitical and environmental concerns of our time; a vast, rugged, beautifully diverse expanse that is integral to the Earth System’s ecological well-being yet has been continuously invaded by numerous resource exploitation interests severely lacking in sustainable administrative policies. Within this setting the region’s original custodians are under threat despite significant scientific research affirming that Indigenous environmental stewardship perpetuates biodiversity which ensures inter species flourishing. Although this is beneficial to us all, it remains a struggle for Indigenous peoples there to uphold their rights, maintain their cultural traditions, and preserve their ancestral knowledge and lands.
Ultimately our projects intend to draw attention to and contribute towards providing solutions for issues of environmental justice. At this point in time when our civilisation is faced with the devastating all-encompassing effects of a human caused climate crisis, we believe that sharing Indigenous worldviews and empowering the leadership of Indigenous peoples as stewards and protectors of the earth is crucial to achieving a climate stable future for us all. In this light, we invite you to explore the efforts of AWA and to admire and receive the blessings of these inspired works of art.
Director: Patsy Craig
Patsy Craig is a curator/producer, author/editor, artist and Indigenous rights advocate. She has a background in fine arts and cultural studies, having received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the USA and an MRES from Birkbeck College, University of London in the UK. For more than 15 years Patsy has been cultivating cross-cultural collaborations throughout Europe, India, USA, and Peru in the fields of art, music, architecture, urbanism and environmentalism. This has included publications, exhibitions, concerts, conferences, workshops, etc.
Patsy has received grants for her work from Arts Council England (UK), Cultures France/ Institut Francais, & BNP Paribas (France), Goethe Institut (Germany), Graham Foundation, the Ministry of Culture (Peru), etc. Notably, she edited and co-designed Making Art Work, a book exploring the relationship between ideas and making that later became an exhibition at the Architectural Association (AA) in London; and with the support of the Graham Foundation she produced a book based on her research in Chandigarh, India about the impact of European modernist design on traditional Indian culture.
Six years ago, Patsy focused her attention on issues pertaining to environment and Indigeneity. Her experience in 2016 with the indigenous-led environmental movement at Standing Rock, North Dakota (USA) inspired her to learn more about Native American culture and in 2017 with the support of the Goethe Institut she researched in this regard. In 2018, she collaborated with University College London to develop the Flourishing Diversity (FD), a project that provides platforms from which to amplify indigenous world views. FD was launched in June 2019 at Gallery 46 in London with The Invisible Forest, an exhibition Patsy curated that makes visible issues of environmental justice through indigenous Amazonian art. In August 2019 Patsy was invited to jury the Nanotourism project of the AA (Architectural Association of London) exploring issues of environmental tourism with Indigenous communities in Moray, Cuzco. In October 2019 The Invisible Forest was presented in the San Francisco Bay Area (California, USA) at the Bioneers Conference and at Dharma College in Berkeley.
In January 2020, Patsy founded AWA Galeria in Cusco, Peru, featuring contemporary and traditional art focusing on environment, Indigeneity, and ancestral wisdom providing unique access to cultural traditions that recognize and perpetuate sustainability and biodiversity as the means to ensure mutual flourishing. In 2021, she curated The Sacred Forest presented at Dharma College in Berkeley, California and @ Bioneers online https://bioneers.org/interview-patsy-craig/. Recently she presented an exhibition of art works by the Etochime Harakbut Artist Collective from the Madre de Dios Region of the Southern Peruvian Amazon at Bioneers 2022 and curated MINE: What is Ours in the Wake of Extraction, an exhibition highlighting issues surrounding the social and environmental impact of extraction featuring works by Etochime alongside works by San Francisco Art Institute alumni in San Francisco, California. https://bioneers.org/an-interview-with-patsy-craig-founder-of-awa/
Patsy continues to research various aspects of Indigenous Peruvian culture developing projects that raise awareness of issues surrounding environmental justice. Apart from exhibitions, AWA also curates and produces conferences/talks, concerts, publications, and educational workshops. Stay tuned for upcoming projects and events!