YANKATU – a story beyond the object Designer, artist and researcher Maria Fernanda Paes de Barros does an intense job to rescue her country’s culture, praising the work of the Brazilian artisan through art and design. Art, as a human manifestation, does not see cultural, political or ideological barriers. It is in this spirit, without limits and with a lot of empathy, that Maria Fernanda Paes de Barros, creator of Yankatu, explores Brazil in search of cultural traditions and its guardians, translating the country’s history through unique pieces and processes. The name Yankatu itself evokes this mission: of indigenous origin, the word comes from the belief of the Kamayurá people, who say that Yankatu is our third soul, the pure essence, beauty, that which gives dignity to human beings. Merging this concept, Yankatu promotes the valuation of the cultural manifestation most intrinsic to the individual, art. Brazil is the result of a rich cultural melting pot where the handicraft traditions of indigenous peoples met with those of European, African, immigrants of different nationalities, the wealth of Brazilian flora and fauna and their diversity of raw materials. Traveling through all regions of Brazil, Maria Fernanda delves into research on the ancestral culture of each village, community or group respecting their identity, celebrating their stories and the importance of safeguarding these traditions for social and environmental impact and the community’s economic development. Since 2015, Yankatu has carried out projects with Brazilian artisans, having passed through the states of Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Pará, Mato Grosso and Bahia, working with different techniques and raw materials, such as clay, tucumã straw, hand loom, wood carving, natural dyeing, soapstone, crepom paper, embroidery, crochet, yo – yo, brass, organic cotton, seeds, feathers and buriti. By presenting the countless possibilities for applying handicrafts to, Yankatu collaborates with fair commercial relations based on respect for human beings, culture and environment, for autonomy and socioeconomic development of the artisans, who are mostly women. “Instead of taking advantage of the technique and adjusting the handmade product to the taste of the consumer, I want to educate the public’s eyes and heart to the beauty and importance that exists in traditional, simple and authentic work” says Maria Fernanda.
MARIA FERNANDA PAES DE BARROS I believe that design and art are one of the main ways to value and eternalize our ancestral knowledge and the nature around us. They not only transform materials into beauty, form and function, they transform lives. Through Yankatu I expose not only my work, I bring the dreams of many with me and instigate new dreams in so many others. A huge responsibility. The palpable part of everything are the works that intertwine my life with the lives that share their moments with me. The other part, immeasurable, is in continuous development, in a mixture of art and freedom, with no date to end. Every time we get in touch with people, we receive something from them and offer something of us. Life is an eternal sharing of knowledges and when we understand the importance of each one of us for the life of all we can build a better world.
My wish is clear: To be able to do this as long as I live