Post-study-abroad art raises funds for Argentinian tribes

By Elizabeth Rainey, Staff Writer

The opening reception for the “Argentina and Bolivia: A Southern Odyssey” exhibit will be Friday, Oct. 23 in Armstrong’s Fine Arts Gallery at 5:30 p.m. The show features work by students who attended the study abroad to Argentina and Bolivia, as well as work from the Wichi tribe that live in northwestern Argentina and southern Bolivia. The reception is free and open to the public.

The artwork will be available for purchase during a silent auction that will end Friday, Oct. 30 at 4:45 p.m. All proceeds from the auction will be used to benefit indigenous people living in Argentina.  

The Argentina study abroad trip is offered each summer. Students travel to South America and meet artists from local tribes. They then create artwork based on their trip and exhibit it in the show. There are a variety of pieces including photographs, textiles and ceramics. The artists will discuss their work during the opening reception.

“Argentina and Bolivia: A Southern Odyssey” is a unique, collaborative project that Professor Rachel Green formed with five Armstrong students. Students used information learned and the experiences had on the summer 2015 trip to create the pieces displayed in the show.

One student, Richelle Redwood, said that “Seeing how skillfully and beautifully these artisans make their crafts made me fully appreciate their culture and art… traveling to Argentina and Bolivia was a great adventure and learning experience that I will never forget.”

The Wichi tribe live in an area called Gran Chaco. The tribe’s main source of income is selling crafts and textiles made with a plant called chaguar. They use this plant, along with natural dyes, to make handmade belts, bags and other craft items. They are well known for hand-woven shoulder bags called yica which are worn by both men and women. The patterns in the yica bags are often tied to natural things like owl’s eye or iguana’s belly.

Students who participate in the Argentina study abroad help the Wichi tribe who are fighting to stay on their ancestral land. People from the tribe have been systematically relocated and their language is now endangered.

Anyone interested in learning more about the study abroad trip or the Wichi tribe can visit the exhibit or contact Professor Green at