From the blog

What it means to be a Wichi woman

Welcome to Women’s History month on the Cloudhead blog. From now until the end of March, all our posts will focus on issues, photography, art and resources related.

As our first post, we present a photo essay of women from the Wichi community in Hickmann, Argentina.

While I can’t speak for the women of the Wichi community, I can say that life for a woman in Hickmann is very different than a woman living in NYC or Buenos Aires. Her life will be worlds apart from anyone who has access to a computer or even electricity. Beyond the difference, we find commonalities. We are all mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. These roles connect us and bridge our differences.

DOWN THE ROAD

Wichi woman of Hickmann walking down the road.

This photo was the lead photos of Cloudhead’s December 2012 exhibition Following the Footsteps of the Wichi. This photo for sale on the Cloudhead Artshop in black & white and other colors.

THREE GENERATIONS

Three generations of Wichi women

Three generations of one Wichi family wait patiently together for donations of food and clothing to be handed out. Once a nomadic group, the Wichi now live in one place. The area where they live does not produce enough food or contain enough animals to support the people in the community.

LA ABUELA

La

THE MIDDLE GROUND

A wichi woman from Hickmann Argentina

I love the look on this woman’s face. What I see is patience and wisdom in her eyes as she, too, waits for donations of food and clothing.

THE NEXT GENERATION

One of the younger Wichi women in the community

This young woman is one of the few late teen, early twenties Wichi who remain in the village. The younger adults tend to leave to find work or maybe an easier life than they find in the village. What they often find is crime and abuse. This young woman helped us run an art project with a group of about 60 children, aged two years to ten years old.

The children were shy around us. We tried to encourage them to draw, cut and glue, but they were just giggled and lowered their eyes. This woman helped us. She encouraged the group to look through magazines, stick stickers and paint and scribble. Without her, the exercise would not have been possible.

I, unfortunately, did not have a chance to ask her name before she left that day. When we go back, I’d like to talk to her, perhaps see if she’d be interested in running photography and art workshops for the kids in her community. We would train her and provide the resources she needs.

BINDI

Wichi girl waiting for food and clothing donations

Many young girls shy away from the camera. They cover their mouths with their hands and turn away from the camera. She did not. Instead, her intense gaze held that of the camera lens.

LA OLLA AZUL — THE BLUE POT

Around the fire, waiting for food in a Wichi village in Hickmann, Argentina

Daily life around the cooking pot. On the right, one woman cooks and prepares. To the left, another older woman stands with the help of a cane. Dogs gather around the fire hoping to steal a morsel. They’ll be shooed away before they get it.

MY MOTHER — OKO

A mother nurses her child while wearing a baby carrier

Women in the community openly breastfeed. There’s no need to run home to hide. It’s expected. There’s no limit on how long a mother should breastfeed either.  This photo also available for sale as part of the triptych My Mother on the Cloudhead artshop.

MY MOTHER II — OKO II

Baby peeks through the fence while her mother watches

The Wichi language doesn’t have a word for just mother. Mother must always be owned. My mother. Your mother. Our mother. This simple language construction reflects a truth about motherhood. Once you’re a mom, you’re always someone’s mom. The central subject of this photo is a child, but the mother looks on. Even through the fence, you can see how she watches over her child with affection.

To purchase these photos and others as prints, t-shirts, postcards and even children’s clothing, check out the Cloudhead Artshop on Redbubble.

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