A Long Road

Indira Urrutia, co-founder of Mi Cultura Art Project, visited the Poppy’s Professional Development Track to share photos of her epic journey.

bicyclesAn image of the bicycles Indira and Marc rode on their four year journey

Currently the co-founder of Mi Cultura Art Project, a company that travels to bring artistic education to youth across the Bay Area, Indira Urrutia has taken a long journey to fulfill her life’s passion. Much of what she shared with the Poppy was a particular epic journey she and her partner, Marc Hors, embarked upon in the early 2000s.

indiraIndira at a market in Colombia

Indira and Marc rode their bicycles from San Francisco to Chile. Indira, always one without a lot of luggage, decided that carrying around a map for their entire journey was too much, too! In order to get from one destination to another, Marc and Indira got to know the countries through which they traveled, and the people who called those countries home. They would sit in a plaza, say hi to a stranger, and begin a conversation that would lead them further south to their next destination. The duo stopped to camp in the yards of friendly strangers who spent hours revealing the bloodiest gashes of their life’s stories.

marcMarc at a campsite

It was through listening to such difficult life stories that Indira began to feel selfish about her journey— she was just on a bicycle, going from one place to another. She needed something more. It was then that she discovered that she could share the photos her and Marc had been taking, and they founded the organization 2greenprints.org.

Indira and Marc began to set up sharing circles in schools, community centers, and even in a prison to exhibit their bicycle journey. They continue to exhibit their work in the United States today.

colombianfoodTraditional Colombian food — pig feet served with soup

“I did it because it was new everyday, different every day. I learned so much,” Indira let the Professional Development Cohort know. Most of what she learned was the idea of not rushing, of allowing a journey to unfurl at its natural pace. The trip she and Marc did could have taken them a year and a half, but getting through to Chile was not the intention–it was listening to and sharing the stories of the road that was truly the goal.

moneyA man’s hands counting money at a Colombian market

When she and Marc returned to the States, Indira took the job of Creative Director at the Red Poppy Art House where she resumed her involvement in the Mission Arts & Performance Project (MAPP), of which she was an active member prior to her bicycle journey through the Americas. A MAPP project Indira co-created, where a coffin was processed through the Mission in representation of the dying culture due to gentrification, was picked up by the New York Times because of its nation-wide relevancy. Galeria de la Raza also produced a temporary mural about the piece. After a year and a half of working at the Poppy, Indira was ready to take on her next endeavor and that is when she and her co-director manifested Mi Cultura Art Project to educate kids about Africa and Latin America. The project teaches 300 children a week and is fiscally sponsored by Intersection for the Arts.

childrenChildren from Comunidad Güaymi in Panama

Although settled in this new role, Indira will undoubtedly continue to live in the values of carefully sharing and listening to the stories that appear along her journey.

*All photos credited to Indira Urrutia and Marc Hors.

– Aleksandra Bril, Red Poppy Art House Writer