Picturing Paradise is an exhibition that features embroidered and appliquéd fabric pictures called cuadros, created by the women of Compacto Humano and Manos Ancashinas, two art cooperatives located in Pamplona Alta, a shantytown situated on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. The exhibition places emphasis on the women as artists and the way their art reflects creativity, resilience, and hope despite the harsh conditions of their lives.
The exhibition is the result of three separate commissioned projects. Hopes and Dreams (January 2006) consisting of fifteen cuadros, depicts each woman’s personal aspirations for herself, for her family or for the world. Inspirations and Motivations (January 2007) illustrate narratives about each woman’s life and the individuals and the communities that sustain her (11 cuadros). ¿Quien soy yo? (Who am I?), the most recent project (July 2008), brings to light each woman as an individual and at the same time, the interconnectedness of her life in relationship to others (13 cuadros). The core exhibit consists of forty small cuadros (10”x 10 or “10 x 18”), text labels and contextual photos. Additional cuadros in the exhibit (numbers and size vary) highlight memories of the women’s past lives, the realities of their present experiences, and images of the world they would choose to shape.