Entertainment » Vol. 56

Bandits and Heroes brings the culture of Brazil to Worcester

“There is never a typical day,” Honee Hess answered when asked about her hectic schedule with Bandits and Heroes at Worcester Center for Crafts. Featuring the art of northeast Brazil, Bandits and Heroes opened at the Center for Crafts with an interactive festival Jan. 28. The exhibit was organized about two years ago in Michigan. It’s been on the road ever since and will end March 11.

As I sit down with the executive director of Worcester Center for Crafts, she enlightens me about her vast responsibilities. She oversees the daily operations of the craft center, and she directs fundraising and development efforts, human resources and marketing/publicity efforts.

Hess said she loves that Bandits and Heroes “focuses on the art of ordinary people and that it explores how culture is made up of many cultures, just as our American culture is made up of many cultures.”

The exhibition explores how diverse ethnicities mold together with artwork crafted by historical and modern artists. The artists create a captivating vision of historical African and Portuguese culture, which extends into modern-day Brazil. The exhibition is separated into three parts: “The Land and its People,” “Expressions of Faith,” and “Poetry, Celebration, & Song.”

“The Land and its People” looks at the complex history of the sugar plantations and African slavery in colonial Brazil. The exhibition shows the life and struggles of its workers and heroes of the Northeast.

“Expressions of Faith” introduces the African-Brazilian religion of Candomble. It meets with the Roman Catholic religion in photographs, paintings, sculptures and sacred objects to show the fusion of two cultures.

“Poetry, Celebration, & Song” is produced by singing poets who sell their songs at small markets and fairs. Poetry, prints and sculpture-inspired folk legends and current events signal the dynamic fusion of tradition and improvisation in the culture of the Northeast.

A non-profit, community-based organization committed to providing quality craft education, Worcester Center for Crafts assists artists and artisans gain prominence in the community.

Hess said she finds many aspects of her job exciting, but the most rewarding is seeing her audience grow.

“Seeing that the community values our work – even creating budgets – is kind of exciting because it gives us an opportunity to plan for the next year.”

Worcester Center for Crafts unrolled a youth program in the fall and has a host of winter classes for adults.

In the future, Hess plans to strengthen ties with Worcester State University and the local academic institutions, as well as continuing to showcase exhibits that are meaningful to the communities of Central Massachusetts.

For more information on the Bandits and Heroes exhibit, visit worcestercraftcenter.org.

By Kendall Korengold

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