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Art in Nicaragua

No matter the size or shape, color or medium, artistic expression in Nicaragua is ever-present. There are formal displays of fine arts, such as Managua’s art gallery district, which is home to museums offering both domestic and international art, but visual art in Nicaragua can be found anywhere. Not limited to canvases and galleries, artistic expression is found in practically every corner.


Artisans and Markets

The mountain village of Masaya, around 3,000 years old, is now home to Nicaragua’s most famous native artisan market-and the country’s most active volcano. Masaya is a town of hardworking and tranquil people, a hub for folklore and folk art. The celebrated market has many gorgeous handicrafts, including leather work, ceramics and woven garments. The real show stopper are the handmade hammocks, snatched up by locals and tourists alike.


Near to Masaya is San Juan de Oriente, a town that has quality pottery and other clay ceramics. Art from here is unique and inventive, as local workers use kick-wheels to form their ceramics, consistently changing the design and luring shoppers from all over the globe. In San Juan there are small family-run shops set up alongside the road, and behind them, workshops where local artists may invite you in to explore. If these two towns don’t satisfy the need for handicrafts, Catarina, Masatepe, Condega and Mozonte are worth checking out for more markets and workshops.


Solentiname, Primitivist Art

Just as important as the artisan scene in Nicaragua, “primitivist” style art from Solentiname, (an archipelago consisting of four large and some 32 smaller islands in southern Lake Nicaragua), is essentially emblematic of the country’s creative contributions. Founded in 1965 by priest and poet Ernesto Cardinal, Solentiname was, and still is, a spiritual artist community for native Nicaraguans. Two years after it had been destroyed during the country´s revolution, Cardinal sought to restore this lush land. What developed out of his desire for justice and community was a space for the poor and oppressed to experiment with a creative and imaginative folk art.

With the help of renowned painter Roger Perez de la Rocha, of Managua, impoverished individuals learned new painting techniques and styles, and were encouraged to think freely, expressing the hopes and dreams that sprang out of the hardship that was the reality of their daily lives. Starting with poor campesinos, or farmers, the community eventually grew to more than 50 painters, each contributing intricate, colorful and symbolic works with themes like religion, nature and daily life. Although much of the original art from Cardinal’s community was destroyed by the Somoza dictatorship, the Sandinista National Liberation Front eventually brought the expressive community back out into the open after years of censorship. Today, there is a small art gallery on the island, which features works by local craftsmen, woodworkers, muralists and painters.



Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Nicaragua : Introduction to Nicaraguan Culture, Dance in Nicaragua, Literature in Nicaragua, Ruben Dario and Cigar Box.

By Margaret Rode
A self-professed city girl, sassy staff writer Margaret Rode hails from Chicago where she received Bachelor degrees in English Literature and Spanish...
24 Nov 2008

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