Paul Barbera finds Where They Create – Mama Kanoa

by Jenny Butler
Thursday 27th January 2011

Paul takes us to a very special place today, to Curaçao to meet Mama Kanoa. Painting only to record her dreams, her workspace is humble and pure much like Mama Kanoa herself. Thank you Paul for sharing such a beautiful story. –  Jenny x

This is a special story for me. Normally I let my images tell the story, but sometimes it is the experience behind the images that is the most memorable part of my work.

I was in Curaçao with Eric Kuster, a Dutch interior designer, and we were shooting our second book together. Curaçao is part of the old Dutch colonies, located in the Caribbean Sea, just north of Venezuela. It has a population of 140,000 with a diverse mix of ethnic backgrounds and yet in some places, it was like I had not even left Amsterdam as the Dutch still have a strong influence on this island.

I was put in contact with a well-known artist on the island through a friend, but despite several attempts, we were not able organise a meeting. In the mean time, a friend took me to his local surf-beach and he suggested that I might like to meet a lady who lived nearby.

Mama Kanoa is in her 70s and sells snacks to the locals who visit the beach. She started to paint because she wanted to record her dreams.

She was a very sincere and humble person and seemed to be a little bewildered that I wanted to photograph her space as she was not seeking an audience for her work. But I feel just as grateful when people allow me to photograph them. Through Where They Create I have found a way to fuse my passion for meeting people and traveling while using photography as a way to document it all.


by Jenny Butler
Thursday 27th January 2011


  • Cathg1g2 5 years ago

    We could learn something from being so humble…there lies its beauty

  • Kate B. 5 years ago

    This whole series is really lovely. The diversity of spaces is beautiful.

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