Artisan Organization: Cesar Gonzales
Update (June, 2019)
"I was born in a small district called Pacapausa, which is located in the department of Ayacucho. I consider myself a very responsible man, generous and persevering. I believe that, in spite of all the difficulties, you can get ahead and overcome tough times.
"Without a doubt one of the darkest moments of my life was growing up without my father, since he died when I was only two years old. It was my mother who did the work of both father and mother at the same time. With her strength, she taught me the true value of a life that is a labor of love. She made me a good man and gave everything for me, and I could never thank her enough.
"I learned to carve stone from a friend. In turn, I taught my son and many of my assistants the art of stone carving. When one of my artisans leaves to start his or her own workshop, I feel very proud. It means that the stone art of Peru will live on.
The stone carvings record the history of Peru and the Andes. Although we now use machinery to give life to our drawings, the stories that the stones tell and the reasons we incorporate those stories have been with us since pre-Inca times.
I've been carving semi-precious stones since the late 1980s. Originally I would travel to the mines, but then I began to carve some leftover pieces. It was thanks to a dear friend who taught me, and I think I will never stop practicing. To be curious, to explore forms and designs, awoke in me the artist's soul.
"It was not an easy task as high precision work requires a lot of effort every day. The years have given me great experience and have taught me that only with firm steps and perseverance are our objectives achieved. My inspiration comes from what I love in nature — animals, and the beautiful landscapes of the Andes. All these sources of energy are what I capture in my art.
"One of my dreams is to be able to continue growing next to my family. I pray that God gives me a lot of strength to continue working and carving the beautiful natural stones, which have been used since the time of our ancestors. Thanks to you, I've managed to raise my family and provide full-time work for other artisans so they can also help their families."
Original Artisan Story
Born in 1962, Cesar Gonzales has worked as a stone carver since 1988. Before that his job was in residential construction, building and finishing houses. But after learning the technique of stone sculpture in the workshop of a friend, he found he preferred it. The following year he became independent and began to create his own images.
A married man, Gonzales has a son and three daughters. The oldest girl shows the most interest in her father's art and even assists him.
He works with serpentine, rose manganese, calcite, celestite, red jasper, mottramite, chrysocolla, rhodochrosite and quartz. He travels to mines in the central sierra to acquire minerals and materials of all kinds. "I work in stone because of the beautiful things that can be made with each kind," he says. "I like stone's naturalness and purity of color."