Kenao Pottery Workshop



KENAO - A Tale of Two Countries
06.2022  - present

The Siekopai, also known as the Many Colored People, are an indigenous community that has called the Amazon home for hundreds of years. They are a vibrant craftspeople who create multicolored garments and speak a unique language. Following a border dispute in the 1940s between Peru and Ecuador, the population was splintered, causing some of the community to flee deep into Ecuador and lose contact with their families. For nearly sixty years, the two groups remained separated until they were finally reunited. As a result of globalization and oil drilling in the Amazon, many indigenous practices are being lost as locals are assimilated into a capitalist system, relying less on subsistence living and more on working class jobs within the petroleum refineries and palm oil plantations. Distance between the two groups has made collaboration strenuous as it remains dispossessed by both the Ecuadorian and Peruvian governments. As these communities modernize, the ability to share and preserve knowledge becomes increasingly more difficult. 

Kenao is a women’s cooperative started by the women of the Seikopai as a vessel to collaboratively market local crafts and develop entrepreneurial opportunities for the Seikoya nation. As part of a graphic design and pottery-making workshop conducted by the CSI, the many women of Kenao worked to develop a logo that they felt encapsulated their philosophy as an organization. The graphic was finalized and distributed by the CSI and has been pivotal in securing funding by the Ecuadorian government for future Kenao endeavors.

The heart of my project lies in addressing the urgent needs of Indigenous communities facing the harsh impacts of climate change. The unseasonable floods and droughts experienced by these communities serve as a poignant reminder of the vulnerability of the most marginalized in the face of environmental crises. Through the lens of Sumak Kawsay, or 'good living,' I aim to understand and document the symbiotic relationship between Indigenous cultures and the natural world. However, throughout our field work, it has become apparent that intersection between biodesign and sociocultural architecture is a currently underdeveloped discourse - particularly as it relates to the amplification of marginalized voices and architecture without architects of the Global South.

NE’E - Alternative Economies

Pictured here is the business Ne’e created by Maricella Payaguaje in partnership with Amisacho Lab, reimagining uses for the native Morete palm, as a way to encourage her peers in Seikoya Remolino to find processes of monetizing local knowledge of native plants, preventing the creation of palm oil plantations. The CSI was honored to partner with Maricella, Amisacho Lab, and Kenao to create an all new branding package, necessary for embarking in new alternative market strategies.