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Exhibit at UW Explores the Intersection of Art, Health, and Environment in the Peruvian Amazon

Since time immemorial, people in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest have been living on or near the river floodplains, creating symbiotic cultures echoing the rhythms of the rich biodiversity that are found in this rainforest. However, recent centuries have brought resource exploitation and colonization to this area, which has forced hundreds of thousands to migrate from the deep jungle to Iquitos—a jungle city of half a million people and the largest in the world accessible only by river.

Within Iquitos, floating and stilted communities maintain their traditional lifestyles along the city’s floodplain edges, offering crucial cultural, economic, and ecosystem services to the city. Despite their significance, their informal status presents layered challenges. For example, the regional government’s decision to relocate over 90,000 floodplain residents to new developments inland (an hour away from the river) raises concerns about the preservation of their unique riverine culture and the delicate white sand rainforest ecosystem that will be replaced by new developments.

“TRES COMUNIDADES, UN RÍO” is an interdisciplinary art showcase that invites visitors to explore the human and environmental stories behind this intricate tapestry. This exhibit, which is currently on the second stop of an international tour, began at the Ministry of Culture Amazonian Museum in Iquitos, Peru, in August 2022. “TRES COMUNIDADES” is a bilingual showcase that can be found on UW Seattle’s campus at the College of Built Environments gallery in Gould Hall until December 15th, 2023. Its time at UW marks the second stop on its international tour, with plans to open again at Pennsylvania State University in 2024.

This exhibit is part of the final deliverable from a Cohort 2 project that was funded by the EarthLab Innovation Grants Program, which invests in collaborations that span academic disciplines, engages multiple sectors and centers community needs at the intersection of climate change and social justice.

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