From Peru to WSU: Workshop students learn to tell stories in a unique and creative way

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Lena Alhallaq/ The Sunflower

Wichita State’s ShiftSpace Gallery hosts an opening reception for “From Lima to Wichita” on July 2nd.

Everyone has a story to tell. And Vladimir Ramos is teaching Wichita State students a new and exciting way to tell their own. 

Originally from Lima, Peru, Ramos came to teach a workshop at WSU after meeting WSU Art Education professor Lori Santos. 

“The experience basically it’s a development of about a three year long friendship and professional relationship exchange,” Santos said. “I originally met a colleague of his from the art school …. And I went to Peru that summer and was introduced to Vladimir … and we just started talking about art and we found a lot of common connections.”

Ramos came to Wichita State previously for a brief artist talk. After he got the opportunity to come to the states to visit family, he found himself at WSU once again.

“And so we started talking about ideas, and he said he had this great idea for a workshop,” Santos said. 

Ramos said he got the idea about holding a workshop after holding a very similar workshop in Peru. 

The original workshop took a shoe and related the shoe to how a person lives— like their habitat and lifestyle. After the success of that workshop, Ramos came to Santos with the idea to bring the workshop to Wichita, but instead of using shoes, using multiple different articles of clothing. 

Wichita State’s ShiftSpace Gallery hosts an opening reception for “From Lima to Wichita” on July 2nd. (Lena Alhallaq/ The Sunflower)

Ramos said compared to his original workshop, the workshop in Wichita has a more varied group of individuals. He said that the varied group gave him more ideas and perspectives to work with as the workshop unfolded. 

“I felt like there was a great connection between me and the students,” Ramos said. 

Ramos said being able to see the students tell their personal stories through their workpieces was special to him, and led to that connection. 

In the United States, it’s common for university students to strictly learn about European artists. Ramos said this workshop was a chance for him to introduce different artists and cultures they may not have been able to be exposed to in a normal classroom setting. 

“It was important to show these students that these contemporary artists are using techniques … that harken back to ancient techniques,” Ramos said. 

One of Ramos’s favorite ancient techniques to teach is a method where they take a vegetable, like a pumpkin or squash, and using needles or small knives carve out the skin of that vegetable to tell stories all around that vegetable. 

Santos said that COVID-19 has made it even more evident how important cross-cultural experiences are

“This is an important real world experience of working alongside someone from another country, someone who speaks a different language, someone from another culture, is invaluable,” Santos said. “We are very globally connected on the internet [but] we’re still removed from each other, there’s something that still blocks that true human connection.

“When you actually have someone right there in your presence, there’s something different in terms of the energy, the connection [and] the exchange of friendship and knowledge.”

Ramos said in spite of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, it has also been able to create and generate opportunities. He said he wouldn’t have been able to come to Wichita if he wouldn’t have been able to teach and make connections online. 

The exhibit “From Lima to Wichita: Intercultural Dialogues in Clothing & Paint” is currently on exhibit at the Shiftspace Gallery.