Creators in Quarantine: Marcelo Almarza

In almost every aspect of our lives, the past weeks have been amongst the most taxing in modern history. COVID-19 has infiltrated nearly all aspects of our daily routines, from our work and family schedules to friend dates and hobbies. Partial to full lockdowns have caused the closure of restaurants, retail stores, and public entertainment venues that host galleries, concerts, sporting events, plays, conventions, films, and more.

Arts organizations continue to struggle with the disastrous cost and ramification of closing their buildings, and freelance artists of all trades are adapting to their careers and incomes being on hold. Despite these challenges, Chilean artists have devised innovative and resourceful expressions of creativity and resilience as performers of all disciplines transition to e-commerce, host online classes and performances, and offer virtual tours of art exhibitions.

In this series, we will meet Chilean artists who are adapting their lives and careers amid a global pandemic. Learn about what has inspired their artistic journey, the challenges they’re learning to overcome, and how they find support in their communities.

Meet Marcelo Almarza

Basket Weaver

1. Can you tell me about your work, and how you began your professional journey?

My job was a real discovery. Ten years ago, I identified a gap in the decoration market, and I began to develop original products that were inspired by Chilote basket-crafters, originating in Chiloé. In Santiago, there was no fundamental knowledge about basket products or vegetable fibers.

Giant baskets made with varied wefts and vegetable fibers were a real success, and I began weaving baskets with many Chilote crafters that decorated houses, hotels, and restaurants. We became known by selling our baskets in the streets where demand for our craft grew. It was then that I was allowed to become part of the world of decoration with products of a very rustic origin.

2. How has the quarantine affected your business? Have you needed to postpone or cancel appointments?

The quarantine and the new conditions that the pandemic caused in Chile were just the second stage of the earthquake that shook the country, which began with social unrest in October 2019. My area of expertise, decoration, is related to beauty, joy, and well-being. After October, the market slowed, causing consumers to haul their regular purchasing practices. I expected that from March or April onwards, the economy would be reactivated. Then the coronavirus struck and buried these hopes, forcing artists to seek alternatives for work. In my case, I can get by for now, but it’s too early to draw conclusions about the future.

3. What is the best way to connect with you online?

My portfolio is published on:

Instagram as @marceloalmarzabarros

Facebook as Patio De Atras.

The fastest way to get in touch with me is through WhatsApp at +56 9 82248819.

  • Read here part I of the Creators in Quarantine-series
  • Read here part II of the Creators in Quarantine-series
  • Read here part III of the Creators in Quarantine-series
  • Read here part IV of the Creators in Quarantine-series
  • Read here part V of the Creators in Quarantine-series

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