-by Rebeca Aguilar Walkley-


Art as a language

This woman from the rural and isolated area of Bolivia, 34 years of age, only speaks Quechua (one of Bolivia’s indigenous languages). Before coming to the house she lived with her 4 children and other family in countryside house, which was just one room. The conditions were very poor (no basic toilet or shower facilities) and also very violent. When she first moved to the shelter with her children, it wasn’t an easy transition; she had to learn how to use the toilet and shower, she also did not get along with the rest of the women in the house. After 6 months, she created this piece of artwork in an art therapy session, which reflects her life story and the things she likes:

Through the collage (image on the right) she represents her four children, one of which loves to read and is currently studying. The suitcase is similar to one that she owns. The violent image exemplifies an occasion where her partner strangled her. The images of vehicules illustrates her love for travelling in cars and local buses.
Finally the photographs of plants represent, on one hand, her love for plants and planting; on the other hand it also represents her explaining to her daughter the importance of vegetables, seeing as the daughter was underweight and hospitalised.

For the first time this lady put herself forward and willing explained to the rest of the women everything just said. This was a huge advancement in her personal growth, especially when compared to what she was like at the start. After 8 months she has moved to improved house in the countryside, with only her four children and has her dream job of planting crops and plants (image on the left represents her desire and current situation).