Ines Marilou Santi Nango
Ines has two girls and one boy. She is from Pindu Yaku, an Achuar village close to the border with Peru. Ines left her village three years ago when she was 16 to come to Santa Ana when she met her husband. Her husband works in Riobamba and visits when he can. She learned to make pottery when she was 10 from her mother and really liked it. But it has been 7 years since she has made ceramics and she said that her hand was shaking and she sould have to relearn some of the techniques. She likes to paint the flowers and fish from her native village Pindu Yaku on her ceramic art.
Silvia Gladis Gualinga Arande
Silvia is from Sara Yaku and has lived in Santa Ana for 5 years. She is married to the current President of the water board that overseas the water system for the community. They have two sons. Silvia learned to make pottery and jewelry from her mother who was always making them. By 14 she was doing small pots and she worked her way up to large ones. Silvia claims to not know how to paint, but her work demonstrates impressive craftsmanship and a creative blend of traditional design and contemporary whimsical flair
of a young person learning to express herself. Her pots often include relief elements – a snake, a turtle, that seem to emerge from the designs and texture of the pottery. The painting on the outside of her pots is often the same pattern she uses to paint her face for special occasions.
Lilian Martina Gualinga Santi
Lilian is Veronica’s older sister and was also born in Sara yaku. She has 10 brothers and sisters. Her father died when she was 6 and her mother has always done ceramics. She is only recently learning, however, because she grew up with her aunt in Guayaquil so she didn’t learn as a child. She likes to eat the fish and meat from Santa Ana – the river and the forest, and doesn’t like to eat the meat from ‘outside’. She has three children, two girls and one boy, and has decided that she doesn’t want any more even though her husband does. For years she didn’t participate much in the community activities but then she became president of Sinchi Warmi while they worked to build their own building in the central part of Santa Ana. She has now handed leadership over to Beatriz. She wants to keep making pottery as a way to help her husband support their family. Lilian tells stories on her pottery of events that have happened in her natural world – the volcano eruption that caused the Pastaza to flood and killed their fish, the Porcupine they eat, the tree that provides the paint she uses to paint her face.
Soila Filomena Vargas Dawa
Filomena learned to make ceramics from her mother when she was a little girl. When she learned, it was for making the bowls for drinking chicha, their traditional drink made from fermented yucca. Filomena laments that the men of the village now sometimes drink chicha out of plastic bowls instead of ceramic ones. Soila has 6 children and 19 grandchildren. One of her granddaughters, a four year-old, lives with her and she has already begun teaching her how to cultivate a chakra — the traditional agricultural system involving heaving intercropping and no fertilizers or pesticides. Filomena paints in her mother’s style and uses her own hair for a brush. Her pottery depicts the wildlife that surrounds her: fish, hummingbirds sucking nectar from flowers, alligators, snakes, cows, chickens, spiders.
Esperanza Leticia Rodas Zabala
Leticia is 25 years old and has three girls. She has always been extremely involved in community’s water system. Even though she doesn’t feel comfortable taking on the job of operator because she has two young children, Leticia insisted on getting trained as an operator so she could step in when the community needed her. Leticia currently serves as the treasurer of the water board. She prefers jewelry making over ceramics and has been stringing seeds together since she was 12. She knows all of the plants that produce the seeds and natural fiber “chambira” that they use in their jewelry. Some of these plants only produce seeds on certain days of the year. She really loves to make earrrings, necklaces, bracelets, and is continually inventing new patterns. Leticia recommends that women wear her characteristic diamond shaped jewelry when they are “looking for men in Miami Beach”.
Melida Guatatuca Rodas
Melida is a single mother with 5 boys and 1 girl. Her eldest son Jason is currently studying Computer Science at a University in Quito, one of the only Santa Ana natives who will get a college Education. Melida served for a year as the president of the Water Board and is currently the secretary of Sinchi Warmi. With her hard work Melida is essential to keeping the community running; indeed, she says that she prefers to be a leader, to energize people, rather than working on art herself. But she wants to learn more about making pottery so that she can teach her daughter. The piece she sold was made by her cousin who lives in Puyo, a woman named Clemencia Guatatuca Vargas. Her designs combine traditional abstract patterns with representational elements. Meldta sends the money she makes to her son Jason to help him with his studies in Quito.
Elsa Rosa Vargas Santi
Elsa is 34 years old. She had 9 children, 7 of whom are living. She is currently expecting another child. Elsa is extremely dedicated to both her family and her community and is the vice-president of Sinchi Warmi. Her husband is a great leader and has served multiple times as the president of Santa Ana as well as of a 33-community association, leaving Elsa to manage the household alone. Elsa knows many technique of traditional healing using herbs, baths, and teas. She also knows how to prepare the backbone of a boa snake for healing and jewelry making so that it doesn’t loose its power. When made into jewelry, she says, it must be worn only by its owner and will bring that individual luck and suceess. Elsa started learning how to make potter from her mother, Lucila Santi, when she was 9 years old, and although Elsa is extremely talented she is humble and claims she still doesn’t know how to do pottery. She started making jewelry when she came to Santa Ana as a child.
Elena Ushiwa Dominga Najar
Elena is a single mother with 5 children. She is from a community deeper in the jungle than Sara Yaku called Lanchama Cocha. Her mother taught her to do ceramics when she was 10 years old. When she was 18 she came to Santa Ana to visit her aunt and stayed. She illustrates her ceramics in the same
style her mother uses.
Teresa Rodas Zabala
Teresa has seven children – six girls and one boy. She is Leticia’s older sister and lives a few kilometers away from the center of Santa Ana in a house with no electricity or plumbing. Many years ago she was trained as a health worker for the community and we have been able to set her up with a new set of supplies so that she can be of assistance to the community in first aid and health promotion. Teresa has not had very much time recently to work on jewelry and ceramics because her youngest child Tupac has been very sick and required surgery at an area hospital, but she hopes to make more ceramics and jewelry in the future.
Maria Guadaloupe Sante Elianis
Guadaloupe learned how to do ceramics when she was 8 years old. Her mother would make them and she would imitate her. She’s still making them today. She has 4 boys, 2 girls, and 4 grandchildren. She says she grew up making ceramics and will continue making ceramics until she dies. Guadaloupe alternates in her work between traditional abstract geometric designs and more bold, representational designs. Many of the more traditional designs she learned from her mother.