Carol Hendrickson is Professor Emerita of Cultural Anthropology at Marlboro College in Vermont, U.S.A, though she came to the study of anthropology after considering a career in visual art (and mathematics). Her interests in the visual and material—and the larger world that creates, organizes and values particular visual, material things—turned to the study of Maya women’s weaving, clothing, and the issues and identities that are reflected through women’s work, the textiles they produce, and the people who wear traje (Maya dress).
Fieldwork in Guatemala as well as study-trips abroad with students have been an important part of her life. Some years ago, her visual arts background reemerged in the practice of keeping visual fieldnotes and the creation of anthro-artist’s books. At this point she’s enticed by the potential of combining anthropology and various forms of making and representation: drawing(s), comics, book structures, and more.
“Although I trained in art while in (U.S.) college, I left that behind when I began graduate studies in anthropology. It wasn’t until years later, in the context of teaching anthropology and leading study trips abroad, that I brushed off my drawing skills and, in the name of encouraging students (and anyone else) to talk with me about my research, started keeping visual notes as well as written ones. That initial effort led me to sketch on subsequent study trips, to write about drawing as part of fieldwork, and to consider new areas of visual/material creation, including what I call anthro-artists’ books.
My long-term research is based in the central highlands of Guatemala where I have studied Maya identity issues, the politics of material culture, the promise of education, and everyday life in a violent land. Ironically, I have spent less time drawing in this place that I know very well and am considering what I might do in terms of visual work connected to future writing projects on Guatemala.”
The five images presented show:
• Work done on study trips with students: Bolivia (multi-sensory aspects of urban life) and Cambodia (clean water/infrastructure)
• Materials connected to teaching: Honolulu (sketches for a course on embodied movement, created while attending an NEH Institute)
• A sketch based on work in Guatemala: What might I do that would draw on decades of research in that country? Perhaps visual/graphic chapters in an otherwise “conventional” ethnography.