Barbara Crane Navarro is a French artist, author, and activist who currently lives near Paris. Over a period of 12 years, she spent the winter months with the Yanomami people in Venezuela and Brazil, an experience which has inspired her artistic practice and her decades-long effort to draw attention to the devastation of the Amazon Rainforest. From creating burning art installations to writing and illustrating a children’s book series, Crane Navarro is a prolific artist who has the power to instill a sense of urgency, responsibility, and connectedness in all those who interact with her creations. We spoke with her about her biggest inspirations, what she is currently working on, and what makes the rainforest invaluable.
About Barbara Crane Navarro - Rainforest Art Project
I'm a French artist living near Paris.
From 1968 to 1973 I studied at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, then at the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, California, for my BFA.
My work for many decades has been informed and inspired by time spent with indigenous communities. Various study trips devoted to the exploration of techniques and natural pigments took me originally to the Dogon of Mali, West Africa, and subsequently to Yanomami communities in Venezuela and Brazil.
Over many years, during the winters, I studied the techniques of traditional Bogolan painting. Hand woven fabric is dyed with boiled bark from the Wolo tree or crushed leaves from other trees, then painted with mud from the Niger river which oxidizes in contact with the dye.
Through the Dogon and the Yanomami, my interest in the multiplicity of techniques and supports for aesthetic expression influenced my artistic practice. The voyages to the Amazon Rainforest have informed several series of paintings created while living among the Yanomami. The support used is roughly woven canvas prepared with acrylic medium then textured with a mixture of sand from the river bank and lava. This supple canvas is then rolled and transported on expeditions into the forest. They are then painted using a mixture of acrylic colors and Achiote and Genipap, the vegetal pigments used by the Yanomami for their ritual body paintings and on practical and shamanic implements.
My concern for the ongoing devastation of the Amazon Rainforest has inspired my films and installation projects. Since 2005, I've created a perfomance and film project - Fire Sculpture - to bring urgent attention to Rainforest issues. To protest against the continuing destruction, I've publicly set fire to my totemic sculptures. These burning sculptures symbolize the degradation of nature and the annihilation of indigenous cultures that depend on the forest for their survival.
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