The Jequitinhonha Vale is a region in Brazil located at the north of Minas Gerais Estate, which has 51 municipalities. For its low social indicators, the Jequitinhonha Vale is also known as the “Poverty Valley” (Vale da Miséria). However, despite all the hardship faced by the Vale, such as the draught, lack of opportunities, irresponsible exploitation of the natural resources, and the indifference from the authorities, what stands out is a unique artistic and cultural richness, and exuberant natural beauty. Although the dominant official discourse tends to reduce the culture of the valley to the scarcity of resources and social deprivation, what we see are the strong and courageous people, whose stories are filled with creativity and overcoming of hardships. In this scenery, the artistic production stands out and makes the Jequitinhonha Vale one of the biggest sources of popular art made in Brazil. Its several cultural manifestos reveal the strengths of a people who, against all odds, continuously recreate life.
All images and text © Karen Eppinghaus
By Karen Eppinghaus
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