The collectors’ clubs of large museums exist to make way to new artists and foster the cultural production of a country. In 2015, MAM – the São Paulo Modern Art Museum – invited us to curate the five works commissioned for the museum’s collectors’ club that year. A great honor.
The collectors’ clubs of large museum exist to make way to new artists and foster the cultural production of a country. In 2015, MAM – the Sao Paulo Modern Art Museum – invited us to curate the five works commissioned for the museum’s collectors’ club that year. A great honor. For the first time in history, the works would have a theme: Várzea Queimada. What we suggested was a collection aligned with the cultural heritage of that part of Brazil.
And it worked: the process involved artists and designers working together with the region’s artisans through essential design. Alfio Lisi, Mauricio Arruda, Neute Chvaicer, Paulo Alves and Rodrigo Ambrosio took part of a creative immersion with our team, to learn from the collective knowledges of Várzea and feel the density of the project. They translated their experience into unique pieces made of carnauba straw, tire rubber, and wood.
Piece – RÉGUA GENEROSA
Size – 200x10cm
Material – woven carnauba straw and tire rubber
Description – In Várzea Queimada women measure the braids made of carnauba straw in armfuls, and men use their fingers to measure their tire-rubber objects. A measuring tape or a ruler is shared by virtually all artisans. In addition to the tools, this association shares the pride of having transformed ancestral knowledge into design pieces that refer to the essence of Brazil. They share the joys and the pain of life in the Piauí semiarid. Várzea is a village built by the generosity of its people. A product is never entirely made by a single artisan. Some braid, others sew, others finalize, some cut, others sculpt. From the greatness of this soul, the Generous Ruler [Régua Generosa] was born. A utility that refers to love that has no measure, handmade by Josemaria, Antonia, Josenildo and Solimar.
Piece – MESTIÇO
Size – 20 cm diâmetro x 25 cm altura
Material -rubber and straw
Description – A basket with a solid rubber base that continues into a gradient of woven straw and rubber.
Piece – MANDACARU
Size – 25 cm X 8 cm X 12 cm
Material -Tractor tire rubber
Description – Hangers made with repurposed pieces of tractor tire treads. The inspiration to develop these pieces came through the observation of the local artisans’ work, showing dexterity and great skill in handling the material, using tools they developed themselves. Rubber work is essentially brute and masculine but, through meticulous cutting movements, the rubber acquires incredibly delicate shapes and textures. This contrast was what impressed me the most, and that is what I tried to express in these small sculptures.
Piece – “SAI BODE”
Material – canela-de-velho branches, leaves, string and tire rubber spheres, ¼ threaded rod
Description – Impressed with the beauty of the crossed branches (called canela-de-velho, or old man shins), very common in the region as a very simple, practical way to prevent goats from entering vegetable gardens, chicken coops, and to keep the animals – who’ll eat anything – away. With this strong image in mind and the incredible skill of local artists in creating jewelry, objects, sandals – with old tires – this was impossible to escape. The Sai Bode (Keep off, Goat) may be a hanger, or just a small slice of the rich, enchanted place that is Várzea Queimada.
Piece – CROÁ
Size – 36 cm x 28 cm
Material – carnauba straw and tire rubber basket
Description – In Várzea Queimada, the men dedicate most of their time to sculpting pieces out of repurposed tire rubber, while women weave delicate basketry with carnauba straw, abundant renewable sources found in the region. From this observation, I created the ‘CROÁ’ basket, a reference to the thorny and resistant bromelia commonly found in the caatinga, known by the artisans by this name and used to bind the straw braids. On this basket, the ten rubber-sculpted pieces are shaped like a raindrop, bound by the thread of the tire liner, refer to the ten fingers of the man’s hands that hold the delicate basketry created by women’s hands, the moment when contrasting materials meet and immaterial values gain strength.
Ana Neute E Rafael Chvaicer
Photography and Film