Interactive Technologies and Indigenous Art: Exploring the Use of Immersive Resources to Increase Audience Engagement with Ceramic Pieces in the Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Collection at The Ohio State University

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The Ohio State University

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Women of the Canelos Quichua community in Amazonian Ecuador learn ceramic traditions from other master potters and through continuous practice. They use multi-sensory interactions to input knowledge into their piece and specifically, use art to connect the mythic and contemporary worlds by interpreting and materializing shamanic visions. Guided by Andean and Amazonian indigenous approaches to learning and meaning making, my thesis project focuses on the development of a digital interactive resource that attempts to increase audience engagement with Canelos Quichua ceramics housed in the Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Collection at Ohio State (AAAC). The program aims to develop understanding and appreciation for these ceramics and the skill of the artists behind them by way of experiential, interactive features. Given the delicate nature of these ceramic pieces, and the tendency of Western museum culture to limit access to collection pieces more broadly, the program attempts to overcome the inability to handle the actual physical artifacts. My central research question revolves around the extent to which interactive resources developed under a framework of digital humanities are able to increases audience engagement with the ceramic pieces in our collection, thereby increasing knowledge of and appreciation for indigenous forms of expression while providing insight into key Andean and Amazonian concepts and practices. Preliminary data demonstrates that this digital humanities project successfully incorporates multi-sensory, interactive experiences. Users reported that they gained knowledge about and appreciation for Canelos Quichua traditions and practices, namely ceramic making. The program also increased their understanding of indigenous art as a source of knowledge whose creation and appreciation require interactive processes. While this program can never fully demonstrate the tradition and associated concepts of Canelos Quichua ceramic making, it might serve as a promising educational tool that helps increase user engagement with collections of indigenous art while incorporating aspects of indigenous ideology into the resource itself.