Day 4: At the Center of it All

Day 4: At the Center of it All

My blind contour drawing; major props if you immediately knew this was a tree.

Armed with the spectacular wealth of knowledge from our lesson-packed first three days and a will to complete our video and sketching assignments, we were finally ready to take on the city as our classroom. The sights, sounds, and general busyness of El Centro made the city seem so alive, and this energy was amplified due to the large group gathered in the plaza, across the street from the presidential residence. Controversial former Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, was leaving for Belgium, and people had taken to the streets to express their feelings. Live keyboard music filled what little space was left between the people, as others with megaphones competed for a voice. Taking all this in could have taken hours, but we had only minutes before we started with our first task of the day: blind contour sketching. While the name may evoke the emotions you would feel trying to feel your way around a haunted house, the process became a lot less scary after beginning. For five minutes, everyone in our group had their eyes fixated on their choice object – lampposts, benches, flowers— our eyes tracing the objects as their outlines appeared on paper.

Our drawing session was followed by a tour by Carmen Fernandez-Salvador, a professor at Universidad San Francisco de Quito. We first visited la Iglesia de San Francisco, where there was a service in session. One of the most intriguing parts was a side room, which had been gated off. The walls were riddled with light patches where old photographs had once been hung by people asking for help for their loved once, and fresh flowers adorned the ground. Messages of help spilled out from beyond the gates and flooded the outer walls. It was truly a moving site. We also visited La Compañia de Jesús de Quito, where baroque paintings from the 17th century told stories of Christianity and its history. It was interesting to see all this artwork, as the depictions here seemed much bloodier than those typically used in the US. The architecture throughout the buildings was impressive to say the least, combining styles from so many different religions.

Handmade tops from Zabala Artes.

The afternoon consisted of a walk around to see the artisan shops around El Centro. We were able to see masters of their crafts in action, witnessing a locksmith constructing keys and a top maker give us a demonstration, including of one top crafted after the totem from Inception (he stopped it before we could see whether or not it stopped spinning. The mystery shall forever remain). We were also able to see the inside of a colonial home, after stopping to check out some handwoven alpaca fur scarves. Our visit to El Centro heightened our excitement to continue capturing the essence of such a beautiful country.