Carolina Cruz Unmasks the Secrets of Chiloé

Por:

Katie Manning
25/07/2011

Artist Carolina Cruz conducted an extensive investigation into these mysterious legends of Chiloé before crafting her “Máscaras Chilhueñas” or “Masks of Chilhueñas.” Through her art, she aims to tie new generations of Chiloéns to their rich past.

After a short ferry ride from the Lagos region of southern Chile, you reach a sprinkling of nearly 40 islands that sprouted a unique culture isolated from outside influence. The seafarers of the Chiloé islands practice a spiritual tradition rooted in witchcraft, ghost ships and forest gnomes. They build “palafitos,” houses on stilts covered with Chilote wood shingles and attend iconic wooden churches; 16 of the 150 are UNESCO World Heritage sites.  

Artist Carolina Cruz conducted an extensive investigation into these mysterious legends of Chiloé before crafting her “Máscaras Chilhueñas” or “Masks of Chilhueñas.” She fastened together eight sets of masks with exotic materials native to Chiloé, like salmon leather, copper and Chilote wood. Cruz strived to include masks that could express local identity in a unique way. Through her art, she aims to tie new generations of Chiloéns to their rich past.

Divided into two themes, each mask covers either “Cai-Cai” or “Ten-Ten,” representing the sea and the hills of the island. The Fondo de Desarrollo de las Artes y la Cultura or FONDART, a prestigious state fund that backs Chile’s top artists, financed her show.

“This is the cornerstone of an ambitious theater project that I have and I called Carnival of the South, which seeks to represent our regional identity. Cultures are dynamic, require developers who take the heritage and projects. The creation draws on what we are,” she said.

The artist studied mask making and movement and has shared her talent with others, teaching classes around South America. Now - aside from being everyone’s favorite guest at halloween parties - she heads up the Black House Cultural Association of Puerto Montt dedicated to the artistic and cultural development of the commune. She’s converting it into a cultural center dedicated to the region she loves. 

Cruz launched the project at the Centro Cultural Casa Pauly in Puerto Montt, located about 30 miles inland. She delivered a monologue – she’s trained in acting and theater - on July 22 to introduce the work, which will run until August 5. The exhibit is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the first floor of La Casa Pauly, located at Calle Rancagua 210.

 

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