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A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community
 

Dogs With Places to Be: Hannah Priscilla Craig ’17 at La Biblioteca Interactiva at Fundación Arte Del Mundo

The streets are filled with vendors selling beans and corn tostada, people convincing tourists to buy fake alpaca sweaters and colorful fishing pants, and the garbage of Ritz crackers, Coca-Cola, and slew of other trash-snacks produced by corporate moguls who have gotten their hands on the small but fierce country of Ecuador. But the most consistent presence in the streets is dogs—dogs of every shape, size, color, texture, weight, and level of energy. And they all have someplace to be.
All of these said dogs have a distinct sense of purpose. They don’t stay in their homes and yards waiting for their “owners” (if they have them) to take them for a walk or let them outside for a scheduled departure of bodily fluids. Instead, they run from place to place (or sometimes choose to take a long nap intentionally in the middle of the sidewalk walkway) with purpose and determination. They take initiative and ownership of their lives and schedules and consequently get stuff done—they find their own food (a lot of times they eat the garbage that the humans prematurely put in the median of the road for the garbage truck to pick up), have friends (whom they greet from wherever they are at the moment—on roofs, in gutters, or from the kitchen of a local café or panadería), protect themselves and their territory, never get “lost” because they set their intension is to roam, and they care for each other and form bonds that make their lives fulfilling and satisfying.
The dogs of Ecuador and their free-range attitudes enforce and inspire my view toward life and work. I see work as more than the act of holding a job, doing it, and being paid. I see it as a pat of life that need not be separated from life itself. Work shouldn’t be a burden to be avoided or forgotten, but a lifetime of personal and group goals that challenge, inspire, and transform ones worldview and add to ones life story. As the dogs of Ecuador seem to have already found, senses of independence, being needed and helpful, and caring for others around me, and loosely being able to create my own schedule are all important traits to me in life (and consequently “work” as well, if it need be separated).
My work at La Biblioteca Interactiva at Fundación Arte Del Mundo encompasses much of my loves in life—art, community, activism, connection—and is a venue to empower the continuation of those loves with others. La Biblioteca Interactiva is a community gathering place—it serves as an after-school library and art activity center for local children ages 6-12, a performance space for professional and amateur magicians, theatrists, performers, musicians and artists of all kinds, and a venue for fire ceremonies, dances, classes, and art-making.
My work here fluctuates and changes all the time depending on the needs of the foundation. Everyday I have a meeting with the director of the organization and the other volunteers (whom also come and go—constantly changing dynamics and directions of the daily activity) to plan for the daily art activities for the participants who come to La Biblioteca that afternoon. After the meeting if I’m in charge of the activity of the day I plan and prepare for the activity. If someone else is in charge of the activity, I help them prepare or assist the director in administrative duties of running the organization—replying to emails, etc. So far I have lead several activities including a week-long continuing art project of reading “El Gran Capoquero (The Great Kapok Tree)” by Lynne Cherry throughout the week, making puppets and a set, and then rehearsing and putting on a puppet show, making artist trading cards with mixed media and then having an exchange session, making juggling balls and practicing juggling, and watching some videos with art made from alternative mediums and then making collages and pictures with local dried pastas, beans, and corn. I have also assisted with activities such as an alcachofa (artichoke)-tasting and drawing session (they’re a new vegetable to Ecuador), and making a mobile to hang from the ceiling at La Biblioteca. After hearing the requests of some of the children who come to La Bib, I plan to host a book-making activity for them to write their own books (as they’ve been itching to make some!).
Aside from planning and making activities happen in La Bib, I assist with other foundation-hosted art events and the general tasks of the foundation. We host a weekly movie night, performances (most recently a magician from Quito, Ecuador), and support local artists in their endeavors. For instance, tonight will be the culmination party of a project I’ve been working on for the last three weeks. I’ve been assisting a local sculpture and musician to make paper balloons which will be lit on fire and float in the sky as part of a full-moon fire ceremony and music-making party. The constantly shifting duties of working at La Bib and the diversity of people I work with everyday make it an ideal job for me, as one of my priorities in life is to gain different experiences and build stories to tell by working with others and following my ambition—much like the dogs of the streets who follow their own fancies to create individual life paths.
Like the Ecuadorean street dogs, I need to be independent and constantly reorienting and changing my scenery. I need to be part of a community and to live life in the moment—always choosing my own path that aligns with my goals and is an environment to create a community. My work at  Arte Del Mundo has helped me to more clearly realize the ways a lifestyle of self-direction can be put to use to empower others within a community and to open myself up to learn from others. But unlike the dogs of the streets, I usually remember to brush my hair before I leave the house in the morning.

Written by

<p>Hannah Priscilla Craig is an interdisciplinary performance maker interested in race, gender, family, the individual and the collective, the politics of friendship, and presently, dreams and dreamscapes. She delves into these themes through poetics, movement, speech, and  the collage of 'things.' She recently spent three months in New York studying the Suzuki Method and the Viewpoints with the artists of The SITI Company. hannahpriscilla.com</p> <p>Check out some of what I've been up to in Buenos Aires this summer/fall on this <a href="https://uploads.knightlab.com/storymapjs/71d2a179343b0b4a1243835c90c07100/hpc-in-buenos-aires-argentina/index.html">storymap</a>!</p>

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