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Artisan Organization: Jorge Perez

Country: Peru

"I was born in the 1970s in Cajamarca, in northern Peru. I think that all of us born here at the time have lived through many changes and different social and political scenarios. It began with the military government and, although we were really young, we were aware of what was happening through broadcast news or adults' conversations.

"Then in the '80s, we had hyperinflation, and the financial crises were worsened by the terrorists, who destroyed our hope for peace and development. At that time, I lived in Lima a couple of blocks from the attack on the Peruvian-Japanese Cultural Institute. This meant we had terrorism practically next door, and we also had continual electricity blackouts because they'd blow up the high tension towers.

"Finally, in the 1990s and the years that followed, we were beginning to move ahead of all this despite the political crises we've faced with the different governments. All these experiences give you a vision of a different life, and you can better appreciate the things that are really important."

Challenges along the way

"Studying art and making a living from it, as I did at that time, was really complicated. Socially, there's always some kind of prejudice against the artist. But without these challenges, I probably wouldn't enjoy my achievements so much. It's always important to have your family's support even if they don't completely agree with your life decisions. However, working at what you enjoy almost always brings rewards. It nourishes the spirit and gives you the strength to move ahead in what you're passionate about doing. It's always good to start over and seek new challenges.

"I was looking for new forms of artistic expression. From the time I was a boy, I was attracted to engravings. So I studied jewelry design and this opened the door to the world of the silver arts.

"What I like most is the ability to design something, sketch it, and bring it to life as a finished piece of jewelry. Seeing a person use your creations and develop an emotional connection with them. When they stop becoming and adornment and are seen as wearable works of art, this brings a lot of satisfaction. For me, it's not about creating something that will sell well, but something that carries a bit of the artist's soul.

"I studied in a jewelry school to learn the basics. Then I had the opportunity to participate in workshops with Italian and Spanish masters who taught me new techniques. This encouraged me to continue my personal search and experimentation that can be seen in my work.

"I've taught drawing in jewelry design classes in Cajamarca, and design workshops and consulting in Huancayo through the European Union and the Junin Regional Government. I've also participated as an expositor in the Hispano-American Encounter of Jewelers."

What I had to do to learn this art.

"First, I had to learn the basics of the jewelry arts and I spent a lot of time focused completely on practicing. After that, I realized I wanted to experiment with new things — I wanted to create jewelry and sculptures with everything I had already learned.

"To reach this point in crafting skills, I had spent many years of constant practice, years of of daily work and research. Thanks to that, in 2011, one of my works named 'Circus' received the President of the Republic Award in the 16th National Silver Competition of Peru. My silver sculptures also won awards in 2009 and 2019.

"My greatest challenge is this — to continue surpassing my previous work."

My sources of inspiration

"There are many things that have influenced my work but I think the experiences I experienced as a child — from the decorations in the churches, the engravings in the Bible, and the science fiction movies to the museums and having been able to enjoy nature were my main influences. They are still with me today.

"I've always worked on my own. Being your own boss is a big responsibility and I generally work long hours. But doing what I like makes those long hours worth it. And when I'm busy in the workshop, time loses its importance. Rather than being an enemy, time spent there is my friend. It's always hard to begin something but not beginning it would be more difficult.

"My goal is to share not only my work but also the culture of Cajamarca. Whenever I have the chance to participate in a fair, I always find a few minutes to talk to people about this beautiful city and its culture. I try to motivate them to travel to Peru to see this.

"I help keep Cajamarca's millennial culture alive through some of my designs that take Cajamarca as a reference. Together with the Silver Cultural Association of Peru, I participated and created two collections inspired by the monumental Belen architectural complex. They were exhibited in the Cajamarca Inter-Bank Exhibition Salon in 2014.

"I was selected as a finalist with 'Qallacpuma: Magic and Mystery' in the 4th National Artisan Competition in the category of Rescuing Techniques and Symbology, Reassessing the Legacy of Our Ancestors. For me, this is a proof of our commitment to the culture of our community.""

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