Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Coloring Book

For the last several months I've been collaborating with my friend Anna Guengerich, who works in the Anthropology Department at Vanderbilt University. Many people are familiar with the ancient Chachapoya of the Andes because of their stunning, gravity-defying tombs built into cliffs above the clouds. Less well known are their daily lives, which Anna's archaeological team has recently uncovered in rural Peru. It turns out their houses were as surprising as their tombs, and the weavings that survive are extremely impressive. The Chachapoya were eventually conquered by the Incan Empire, like many other cultures of the Andes.

Where the Chachapoya once lived, today the Museo Leymebamba houses their artifacts, reconstructed buildings, and the famous huddled mummies. Unfortunately looting of the ancient sites in the area is a major problem. Adventure tourists and amateur archeologists still hunt for new sites and rediscover existing sites, often with the help of unofficial local tourguides. Even when the participants remain respectful of the discoveries, locals in a desperate economy often follow in their wake and loot the items to sell.

Anna and I have been collaborating on a coloring book that the Museo Leymebamba and local educators will use not only to share what Anna and her team have discovered, but also to educate kids about the importance of protecting ancient artifacts and housing them safely. Anna wrote the story, then gave me a crash course in the daily life of the Chachapoya so I could accurately illustrate it. I really enjoyed figuring out how to convey a world where it's normal to grill up a guinea pig, footrace barefoot in the cold, and for your grandma to heal you with magic when you're sick.

The book hasn't yet gone to press, but I'm sharing a frame here. The main character's dad has just gotten a job as a guard at the Museo Leymebamba, and she's sitting at the edge of a lake wondering what's so special about the artifacts, and who the Chachapoya were. Little does she know it's a magical time-traveling lake....

Page from a Chachapoyas coloring book by Ciana Pullen
A frame from a coloring book about the ancient Chachapoya, written by Anna Guengerich and illustrated by Ciana Pullen.

If you'd like to know more about the book, feel free to contact me.

Classical piano and video

I ran across a German contest (whose deadline I'd long missed) to create a video to accompany the classical music provided. I was impressed by two of the previous winners. Enjoy!