Artist and activist Emerson Munduruku is teaching environmental conservation to children in Brazil through performance art under the guise of his his drag queen alter ego, Uýra Sodoma.
Emerson Munduruku takes part in educational projects, teaching children about Amazon communities and how to both connect with and protect nature. His aim is to pass on to the next generation a sensibility towards the importance of protecting the planet.
The artist’s Uýra character is a colourful extension of earth and nature, making use of natural materials including seeds, branches, leaves and other items found in nature to give life to his alter ego.
Using natural materials that he finds in local gardens and the forest, Emerson Munduruku spends hours creating elaborate costumes that he uses to promote diversity, both in humans and nature. He dresses herself up for performances using species of plants with particular ecological properties – they are not rare plants but are those that reproduce and grow quickly, and are the first to appear and spread in areas damaged by machines, fire or the spread of concrete.
The artist always asks nature for permission before taking a plant, and always returns them to the wild once he is done using the plant “so they can decompose as part of the Earth’s energy circle”.
Emerson Munduruku said: “Uýra is a being of war and peace, and the plants I use reflect this ambiguity.” Sourcing from backyards and beyond.”
Born in the Amazon region, Emerson Munduruku, who is of indigenous descent moved to Manaus with his parents and older sister when he was six. The biologist, who spent six years studying flora, fauna and amphibians, originally wanted to study literature.
With the environment a subject about which he feels passionate about, by creating his Uýra character, Emerson Munduruku has found a way to also weave storytelling in to his life.
Emerson Munduruku said: “Uýra has given me a new lease on life. She makes me happy. She makes me more comfortable in my skin and with other people, as well as with my desires and concerns.”
The artist spends his time travelling around Manaus and small riverside villages in the Amazon to teach about environmental conservation through art.
He said: “Fundamental to the project is using the jungle as both an inspiration and a tool. This helps to connect people to the forest.
“Our stories can be told through the prism of pain and an immediate metamorphosis. But our stories are much more complex than that.”
Educational projects taught by Uýra are designed to show locals how to connect with nature and protect the surrounding natural environment. Emerson Munduruku’s character makes use of performative acts to spread the message that humans are a part of nature too, and to highlight the importance of preserving indigenous knowledge and using sustainable practices.
Emerson Munduruku also runs the Incenturita Project from the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), where he educates young people through scenic, visual and musical performances inspired, and made from, elements of the forest.
Image Credit: Matheus Belém
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com