Art For Indigenous Survival

Talamanca, Costa Rica, August 2000

In 2000, Irma and I returned to Costa Rica taking with us Bryant Holsenbeck who specializes in art from recycled materials, and Jim Kirkpatick, a woodworker to teach joinery (combining wood without nails). Returning to the Caribbean coast, we settled in once again at Miraflores Lodge ran by its owner, Pamela Navarro. For the first two weeks I stayed at Miraflores teaching in the Rancho - beginning with the ladies from Manzanilla and Cocles making green parrots - the real ones were plentiful in '93 but are now almost rare (DDT and habitat loss are the suspected reasons). After the parrots, we started on the Scarlet Macaws. I completed the two weeks making Blue River Dolphins which have been coming up the coast from Brazil to Manzanilla.

Meanwhile Bryant checked out the recycling center and found tons of plastic water bottles (everyone use to boil their water - now the tourists bring in their water and the bottles are left behind). She taught everyone how to make bugs and flowers out of the plastic bottles. She also taught beading, making Iguanas and fish.


Jim met with several different groups of woodworkers and then settled in with Timatao in Watsi on the BriBri Reserve with a group of young men. He shared his patterns, knowledge and techniques plus about $800 worth of woodworking equipment which we left with the BriBri. They quickly began making stools, tables, chairs and animal carvings.

During the last two weeks, Bryant and I traveled to Watsi where I taught the women to make Sloths with velcroed hands and feet and a zipper in their stomachs so that the children could use them for backpacks. Bryant taught beading. On the last day, everyone gathered at Miraflores Lodge for a feast, to show what we had all accomplished, and to say goodby.