And Now My Children Know

Leticia Valverdes, Brazil

This is a series of images, created by my children and me from my Amazonian archive. Made with fire, gold, blood, earth & leaves in affectionate interventions and an attempt to process sadness in relation to our planet and find hope. I am a mother of three children under 12. For the past 20 years I have worked in the Amazon. Brazil has been affected by the Covid pandemic in devastating ways and the Amazon has been hit very hard. During the lockdowns I became a tutor for my children. At first we followed the guidelines with school lessons while watching the irresponsible behaviour of president Bolsonaro in relation to the Amazon and the rest of Brazil. As well as being accused of genocide for its neglect of the pandemic, the Brazilian government has been trying to pass extremely damaging constitutional amendments that will dismantle existent environmental laws in the country. I realized that the kids needed to learn of that reality. That the forest is reaching a point of no return of becoming a savannah that is more vulnerable to fires, with huge consequences for the region and the planet. I wanted them to know that the Amazon is in great danger, that the attack and disregard for the forest and its people takes place in different ways and if we do not do anything now this whole ecosystem will not exist in the same way by the time they are adults .I invited them to print images from my archive and transform them. We discussed, in an age-appropriate manner, what the threats and challenges are that the region faces. I hope to have sensitively educated them of this imminent tragedy. Through their eyes and mark making, I could touch on the grief and sensation of impotence I feel about the fact that whole tribes and their habitats can cease to exist. Yet I wanted to show them the beauty of the moments I shared with such peoples and the forest. We hope our series can inspire other young people to learn, to ask questions and to love the habitat and the people that humanity cannot afford to lose.

Discover more: Shortlist 2021