Brimming frescos with baroque ornamentation, solemn sculptures with eternal stares, grand choirs thundering sacred themes — these extravagant images capture Western religious art. But there is more to be found outside the canon’s confines.

The Institute of Sacred Music is currently showing “Religion in the Andes,” a collaborative exhibit showcasing the paintings and photos of three Peruvian artists. Their work captures the intersection between religion, culture and daily life. It will be shown in the ISM until June 26.

“For me, this was an opportunity to highlight some contemporary Peruvian artists whose work is really interesting and who engage with the diverse religious traditions of the Andes in interesting ways,” said Emily Floyd DIV ’12, who curated the exhibit. She noted that the ISM also explores visual arts, literature and dance in its curriculum. The exhibit prefaces the ISM’s upcoming study trip to Peru.

Photographer Raúl Montero Quispe has documented life and religion in the Andes since he was a teenager. His art, which is intimately conscious of place, comments on setting and cultural patrimony.

“I like to convey openness over detail,” Quispe explained. “I feel like I can portray more, capture the moment in its surroundings and the subject within their environment instead of the subject alone.” He noted that people often have “odd perceptions” of others’ environments.

For this project, Quispe also explored new production choices. He diverged from his usual style, making his photos black and white.

“It wasn’t an obvious choice,” Quispe said. “I did it because it presents not the people and the colors, but the act of religion.” He wanted to express his subjects’ religiosity without the “distraction” of color and light.

Venuca Evanan, a painter, broke from tradition in her work as well. She works in a traditional form known as a “tabla de Sarhua” — long planks of wood hand-painted with feathers and earthen pigments — but with modern flair.

“It used to be that only the men could make these tablas,” Evanan said. “But my father taught all of us how to do it.”

“Tablas de Sarhua” usually depict daily life, family and common experiences, Evanan noted. Yet her work focuses on the lived experiences of people previously unrepresented in Andean art.

“She’s someone who’s really innovating, thinking a lot about her own experience, thinking about women’s experiences, thinking about the migrant experience,” Floyd said. Evanan takes inspiration from her own life, as well.

“Right now, I live in Lima, but my parents are from the community of Sarhua,” said Evanan. “They came here because of conflict between the military and the senderistas. So, my life has always been tied to Sarhua and the Andes.”

The artists also had an opportunity to come to Yale for the exhibit’s opening on Feb. 19. “This isn’t just artworks coming to Yale. It’s an opportunity for conversation between the artists and this community,” Floyd said.

The Institute of Sacred Music is located at 406 Prospect St.


Tyler Brown |