The Story of Santiago Lake Atitlan Artist Barbara Sosof
My parents are from different ethnic groups in Guatemala, my father is clearly Tz’utujil and my mother from the Mam ethnic group. I was born in 1980 in the community of Santiago Atitlán a village of Tz’utujil origin that is surrounded by lots of volcanoes, trees, a lake and people so warm despite the different difficulties that have had to cope and resurface each time.
The armed conflict affected this town a lot, leaving behind the consequences of poverty and other things that lead to it, as well as natural disasters and other social difficulties.
Due to life circumstances I have lived in several towns of Guatemala along with my family during my childhood and for working relationships I have lived with other ethnic groups and peoples of Guatemala for my profession as a social worker. But since 2001 I have settled in my town of Santiago Atitlan.
How the place where I live influences
Santiago Atitlán is one of the largest towns in the Lake Atitlán basin. It is a paradise surrounded by a lot of nature, in any corner that is seen by just seeing the lake. It inspires many things but it inspires me to elaborate art with what I surrounds, like birds, flowers, volcanoes, the lake, history, culture, religion. My connection with nature inspires me to capture what my eyes see every day.
Influence of tradition of my art
From the use of my reason in my childhood I heard about the painter Juan Sisay, one of the pioneers of art in the town who achieved popularity in the 70s and who achieved national and international renown. But in the 80s he was killed as a result of the armed conflict.
After his death, other local painters resurfaced, but as the years went by they emerged more in Naif style and later they were derived to other techniques.
But the predominant ones were the men as to date it has not been possible to overcome the gap of the insertion of women in the art of painting.
There have been women who have tried to venture into this world but it is almost impossible to prevail to find a stable market and art market competition from neighboring municipalities with lower cost without taking into account the effort of investing hours when making the art.
I am one of the Tz’utujil women of the town who devotes herself to art in a large percentage of time.
How I learned
My interest in art started from my childhood in school all my classmates put us to draw when teachers had other things to do. My memory is that they all drew the lake and the volcanoes and the traditional costumes of my town but my drawings did not have more relevance to the pair of my schoolmates because they were all good. When I went to study other schools outside the town I realized that my drawings attracted attention and I did not care they were so natural for me. But they always put me in drawing competitions and won. As I progressed in my studies I did not pay much attention to it. But I was still getting into drawing school competitions.
But my father always made different types of art such as decorations, murals, art with acrylic, oil and other things. Although I did not have classes directly from him I always watched what he did.
Being already an adult after studying other things, I returned to the town when my father already had an art shop on the public beach where he gave me the interest to do some art as entertainment. But my art captured a certain audience that my interest was growing to date. Well, I think I’m still learning, improving my techniques, my colors, and so I’ve been able to dabble slowly with my art.
Because it becomes important in my life Art is my form of expression, therapy, local culture prevails and a source of work not common among women.
How it improves the quality of my life
I have dedicated myself to art very slowly because of my other profession, but despite that, I managed to find a local and foreign market that sometimes helped me to invest in my professional university education and other things that life demands.
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