Wise Forgotten Faces is a humanitarian project focused on providing accessible shelter and potable water to indigenous elders living in remote Amazonian communities. Through the exhibition of their portraits painted by noted artists our fundraising efforts incorporate fine art with social aid.
The Secoya and the Cofan peoples live along the Aguarico River in Ecuador, a region that is experiencing mounting incursions by mining and petroleum concerns. The Aguarico is central to life for Secoya and Cofan people who must contend with increasing oil tanker traffic and pollution harmful to them and the ecology. Further complications include clear-cutting for African Palm production, and narco-traffic activity in nearby Colombia which caused Ecuador to issue an ammunition ban to curb drug-related violence but which impedes the ability of Secoya and Cofan people to hunt in their ancestral lands.
The plight of these indigenous communities is not breaking news. Their fight to maintain their cultural identity and to preserve their territory has been on-going. In Ecuadorean courts the Cofan won a multimillion dollar lawsuit against petroleum giant Chevron, but Chevron had the verdict reversed in US courts. Despite support from numerous organizations, many needs remain unaddressed, in particular those of community elders whose ancestral knowledge is invaluable. The focus of the Wise Forgotten Faces initiative is primarily on them, the keepers of cultural identity.
The Wise Forgotten Faces project will use the power of portraits to raise awareness of the indigenous struggle in general and to highlight the difficulties facing community elders in specific. Our goal is to create a collection of portraits, connecting well-known artists with indigenous elders, to underline the key role elders play in their communities as a source of cultural and spiritual knowledge that must be remembered and passed on. The proceeds from the sale of this collection of paintings will go towards the construction of accessible housing and water delivery systems for elders and their communities. This will allow elders to live in dignity and allow them to fulfill their valuable role as fonts of cultural knowledge and community traditions.