A Mona Lisa dressed with the elegance of Bolivian cholitas and a version of Botticelli’s Venus with indigenous features are some of the creations of the tireless Aymara claudia callizaya, an admirer of renaissance realism who combined motherhood and work in the fields to study plastic arts.
Claudina, the artistic name that Callizaya chose to sign her works, was born in the community of Kalla Baja, in the highland municipality of Jesús de Machaca, more than 120 kilometers from La Paz.
At 32 years old, he is about to finish his degree in Plastic Arts at the Public University of El Alto (UPEA), where he obtained the knowledge and techniques he needed to cultivate his passion for painting, according to what he told Eph.
“I like Renaissance paintingsof those ancient artists, of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo or Raphael, because in those works I see that they paint the faces, the folds of the dresses are perfectly, they look like photos”, for which he wanted to do similar works, he pointed out.
When he met the famous painting of the Mona Lisa, he considered making his own version, but represent her as a cholita. That is, with the traditional bowler hat, the blanket, the blouse and the hair tied up in two long braids, in addition to the elegant jewelry that these Aymara women usually wear.
“I did it with the thought that women in skirts, dresses or pants should not discriminate against each other because we are all women and rather we should unite to support each other, to get ahead,” she said.
The painting is part of the inaugural exhibition of the UPEA Plastic Arts Gallery with creations by Claudina, among which her version of the Birth of Venus also stands out with a naked cholita standing on an aguayo, the fabric woven by the indigenous people, and someone trying to cover her with a blanket.
Her beginnings in art were almost a challenge, because when she was a child she could not draw a cat for a school assignment and had to ask her mother for help.
That left her anxious to learn to draw, knowing she wasn’t going to appeal to her mother all the time.
Thus, he got down to work and began drawing cats, although from then on he had to combine his artistic desires with his herding work and took advantage of every free moment he had to make illustrations on flat stones in the absence of sheets of paper.
“Later I drew other animals, later I began to draw people”, and thus art became a constant in his life.
Claudina remembers with particular gratitude her elementary arts teacher, Ramiro Tola, who once told her that “art is the window where you can see the world” and urged her to study this discipline.
dreams and aguayos
Claudina’s journey to fulfill her dream of being a professional artist has not been easysince he has passed between Kalla Baja and El Alto, combining study with the care of his wawas —his children, who are currently 7 and 5 years old—, the housework, the care of his sheep and the sale of juices.
The artist was determined to study arts and, after overcoming some obstacles, she finally enrolled at UPEA, taking advantage of the fact that her children were young, she said.
“The first day of classes that I spent in the race did not seem real, it seemed that I was dreaming because I was already a mother,” said Claudina, and recalled that she even sometimes spent classes with her little daughter carried on her back in aguayo and her other little one in arms.
The support of their parents was vital and also of some classmates and teachers who They helped him take care of his children when it was his turn to exhibit.
With time measured, she used to wake up doing jobs taking advantage of her baby sleeping, and when her children grew up, she would start doing chores with them.
Claudina confessed that she was about to give up, but she thought that “all the sacrifice” made cannot be in vain.
Callizaya has been one of the “brightest” students in her career and for this reason she was chosen to inaugurate the gallery with an individual sample, explained the director of Plastic Arts of the UPEA, Claribel Arandia.
It was also chosen for its proposal that unites the plastic arts with the rural area, with a “different vision of what the countryside is and its virtues,” Arandia said.
The sample is called Q’apha warmi —strong and hard-working woman in Aymara— and in addition to her interpretations of the Mona Lisa and Venus, she includes portraits of her children, her parents, her brother, as well as landscapes with which she seeks to highlight the beauty of the highlands.
He also has pictures of a pregnant woman sowing, another that revalues the aguayo and another that cries, a work with which he intends to draw attention to sexist violence.
Claudina has managed to fulfill part of her dream and now aims to continue painting and reach other cities with her works and even exhibit outside the country and learn about other cultures. (I)