THE USINA DE ARTE
Through the combination of an open-air contemporary art museum installed amidst a botanical garden, the Usina de Arte has been, since 2015, an instrument of socioeconomic transformation for more than 6,000 people who reside in its surroundings, from initiatives that irrigate education, culture, environmental resilience, entrepreneurship, and self-esteem in the village of Santa Terezinha.
This community is named after the Usina Santa Terezinha, whose operation started in 1929, under the leadership of the Pessôa de Queiroz family. In less than 20 years of its foundation, the enterprise reached the position of largest alcohol and sugar producer in Brazil in the 1950s, relying on a structure that included a hangar, more than 100km of railroad, 21 locomotives and more than a hundred wagons for logistics in the sugar-alcohol business. In 1998, hit by a serious crisis that devastated other undertakings of this type in the region, the mill closed its activities.
After almost 75 years of its heyday, the space located in the municipality of Água Preta, in the southern Zona da Mata of Pernambuco, is witnessing another high point in its trajectory - and one that no longer involves transforming sugarcane into alcohol and sugar. Today, the crops of the Usina de Arte deliver a new cultural, socioeducational, and sustainable vision for the Brazilian Northeast. An instrument of renewal from the rupture with the past, building the future from the fertile foundations of culture, education, and the environment.
Amidst a perennial reforestation work (until the end of 2022, 35 acres will receive about 10 thousand plants of more than 600 species), the Artistic-Botanical Park is the most visible and visited part of a wide support network to the village of Santa Terezinha and the municipalities of Água Preta (PE) and Campestre (AL). Examples are the music school, the library, and the public knowledge center with a powerful literary collection, the FabLab with computer terminals connected to the internet, 3D printers, and a laser cutter for community projects, as well as a partnership with school units to support new pedagogical practices.
WHO WE ARE
BRUNA PESSÔA DE QUEIROZ, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF USINA DE ARTE
“It is in our nature to think of ways to produce art through the pillars of inclusion, participation, and modification of the social and economic reality. We hope to increasingly harvest the fruits that we have sown along this trajectory, which is always active, advancing and gathering conditions so that everyone who lives around the Usina de Arte can dream higher, believe, and achieve their dreams. We will always be available to this community in contributing with the necessary tools for these dreams to become real!”
RICARDO PESSÔA DE
FOUNDER OF THE USINA DE ARTE
“I treasure a shirt from the 2017 edition of our annual Art Festival, which reads ‘Art transforms’. The Usina de Arte is just that: more than a jargon, a real possibility to change lives and scenarios. We are not just a museum, but an institution that partners with society, creating structures to generate income and value for more than 6,000 people. When we started the Usina de Arte, we had in mind that it was necessary to leave a centralizing model, in which the mill provided the livelihood for all the families and move towards an idea in which each person developed their own mill according to their abilities. It is not without emotion that I can say that Santa Terezinha has become a complex of mills.”
JOSÉ RUFINO, THE CURATOR
OF THE BEGINNING OF ART PROJECT
In mid-2015 José Rufino arrives at Usina, and since the first moment a cathartic experience was felt by the artist, who has as his main artistic research memory and oblivion. Being himself the grandson of a traditional mill owner in Paraíba, Rufino finds his own childhood and family memories in the former deactivated the Usina Santa Terezinha. Touched by this visceral process, Rufino becomes part of the initial group of debates and discussions in search of possible re-signification that would bring to the community of the mill a new way of carrying life forward. He participates in the creation of the fantasy name Usina de Arte and remains as curator until the beginning of 2021.
THE USINA CREATING
Being part of the Usina de Arte venture is, first of all, understanding the importance of a project thought out for the community of Santa Terezinha, a cultural project that must integrate the memory of the place and the history of this historic part of Brazil. Bridges must be created between the public and the art world because education is a fundamental part of the project. With more than 40 works installed, those involved have the responsibility of making the Usina a reference in art in the public space. And the idea of inviting foreign artists has the objective, in addition to provoking a fruitful dialogue with national artists, to present a passionate and inspiring region to be transposed in their works. We are only at the beginning of something very promising. The first steps speak for themselves!
Fifteen years after the sugar mill closed down, a couple, who were the descendants of the founder of the enterprise, returned to the house which had been built in 1936 as a residence for José Pessoa de Queiroz during the weekends. The year was 2012. The same year that Ricardo and Bruna Pessôa de Queiroz visited the Inhotim Contemporary Art Center, located in the city of Brumadinho (MG). It was there that they fell in love with the work of artist Hugo França, who develops furniture sculptures in wood. França was invited to visit the Usina in 2013, and he did. Then again in 2014. From there, emerged the idea to invite other artists to visit the space, to dialogue with the surroundings and the cultural issues of the region.
In 2015, the artist from Paraíba, José Rufino, joined this embryonic project, seeing in that environment the conflicting wealth between opulence and decadence, with real possibility of transformation through the interaction with the surroundings and the powerful combination of people, art, education, and environment. So was born the Usina de Arte (The Usina de Arte), run by the Associação Socioambiental e Cultural Jacuípe (Jacuípe Socio-Environmental and Cultural Association), which today brings together more than 40 names from various social sectors.
This polynuclear structuring is what makes the project unique in the Brazilian art scene. The Usina de Arte brings in its DNA a combination of codes of identities and local traditions with organicity, supported by artistic residencies and exchanges with the population. Artists are invited to occupy this territory that tells, and carries, so much history and, from this experience, produces works and legacies that have an impact on people’s lives.
A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
At the time, in 2015, the Usina de Arte was born aware that art is not only landscape, and along with the museography aspect of the project, the perspective of socio-environmental sustainability would receive the same attention. While the Artistic-Botanical Park has works of international stature in symbiosis with nature, the project maintains a local reforestation project with consequent, and already felt recovery of the habitat of wild animals in the region in a movement of reversal of the wearing down of the land by the pasture and sugarcane monoculture.
Always aware of the human potential of the region, the project provides students from local schools with internship programs with training linked to the activities developed by the project, especially in the areas of art and botany. With this set of actions, the creative power of the population of Santa Terezinha is stimulated, creating opportunities of sustainable development for the community.
Constant waves of stimulus are generated from a regular calendar of cultural events, courses, and workshops, offering structures capable of enabling new perspectives for life, with personal and professional achievements. And the results can already be seen up close. Since the start of the Usina de Arte, the region now has more than ten restaurants, a hostel, a fishing-and-paying club, a handicraft center, guides for ecotourism, camping, and the strengthening of the home-stay culture
SUPPORT AND PARTNERSHIPS
The Usina de Arte is managed by the Associação Socioambiental e Cultural Jacuípe, a non-profit organization that brings together more than 40 members from various segments of the Santa Terezinha community and is made possible through the support of individuals and companies.
The project is supported by the Aloisio Magalhães Modern Art Museum and Sebrae.
Within the municipality of Água Preta a partnership is also established with Rádio Campestre, Colégio Avançar, Municipal Severino Canto School, João Vicente de Queiroz School Group, and Terezinha Pessoa de Queiroz Municipal School.
HOW TO COLLABORATE
Did you like the Usina de Arte and wish to contribute?
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And participate in this amazing project!