Retablo Wasi Ensuenos

Ursula Sokół

May 10 – June 21, 2024

Retablo Wasi Ensuenos (Altarpiece House Dreams) seeks to answer questions I may
never have the answer to about my ancestry, abuela, abuelo, myself and my place in the
Andean diaspora. Peeking through my un-answered questions on the window is a life sized
retablo, a traditional Andean folklore box that depicts religious or everyday scenes. The room
inside is a fantasy home where my questions are answered and I am accepted. In the center of
the room is a portrait of myself as a child with a unibrow, for accuracy, and my favourite
childhood animal in my hands, a snake. My abuela shares the space with me beside the heart
of the house, a q’uncha (traditional Peruvian oven). Outside the room my abuelo peeks through
the questions I have for him on the window.
There’s a disconnect I feel from being racially mixed with a lost family history. The little I
know about my blood related abuelos is what they wore and posed in a colourized black and
white photograph and the story of why I don’t know them. My abuela Asunta died from childbirth
and my abuelo Trinindad abandoned his three children after. My mama was taken care of by my
nameless bisabuela until she gave her to my abuelita Blanca whose family is the one I grew up
with. The small hints of my family history I get are one photograph and foggy stories leaving me
daydreaming about questions I think quietly such as my abuela Asunta’s mixed indigeneity.
My life sized retablo is a daydream of a family self-portrait that never was. I want to look
at the disappointment of lost ancestral memories, not knowing a grandparent’s love, and move
with it and undo what has been done. I refuse to accept that my ancestors will be fully forgotten
just because I don’t know their names.

Ursula Sokół is Peruvian-Quechuan/ Polish artist based in Mohkinstsis (Calgary). They
are a costumer, illustrator, performer, silly weirdo, and likely autistic artist with a BFA in Media
Arts from AUArts. Their work utilizes folklore and myth as a mechanism that explores the
in-between identities and spatial limbos that she often experiences. These spaces and
experiences of discomfort are re-contextualized utilizing aspects of traditions and culture they
grew up with from their Peruvian mama. Their work acts as a means of conveying the
uncertainty found within their identity and takes that uncertainty to wonder what belonging
means. They use their emotions of disconnections as motivating fuel to stubbornly create