"…through my art, I strive to appreciate, to care for, to respect and enjoy our Mother Earth who gives us life and the oxygen we need."
"I'm Gerald Valdez Villanueva. I was born in Peru's Amazon region, amid nature in its maximum expression. The living jungle, where valleys are infinite, is privileged to host archaeological structures as important as Kuelap, to mention only one of its many attractions.
"I consider myself a service-oriented, friendly, simple and generous man.
"My parents worked hard to support our family. Thanks to their effort and dedication, I was able to go to school, even if our circumstances weren't the most favorable. I grew up swimming in the rivers of the valley, fishing near our town, walking barefoot on the earth… I was very happy during my childhood. I think that love is the basis for developing all our passions.
"I grew up with nature, with wildlife, with forests of majestic trees and abundant vegetation. This is the Peruvian jungle, characterized by its flora and fauna. From a very young age I felt a strong connection with nature because I was born and raised here. My parents taught me to respect it. And I admire the natural world because, although people and industry have damaged it, nature continues to constantly regenerate itself. This is why I wanted to work for this cause and, through my art, I strive to appreciate, to care for, to respect and enjoy our Mother Earth who gives us life and the oxygen we need.
"I love what I do. I enjoy it so much! And I am willing to keep working and motivating young people to protect our trees using their material in a sustainable way. One of my most important goals is to be able to re-forest and cultivate the walnut forest. This represents a great challenge for me, as I've been working to make Amazon residents aware that it it better to take care of a tree and to use its fruit than to cut it down and sell its wood. Thus, I encourage sustainability and the planting of more trees.
"My work consists of preparing the materials to be recycled — the walnut shells. The nuts are not wasted. I use them to fertilize the trees so I can harvest more or I use them in the delicious Peruvian chocolate candy known as chocotejas.
"I consider myself self-taught, since I developed my techniques for working with the shells. I made my own manual machine to cut and carve them. It was complicated in the beginning but nothing is impossible when you decide to achieve it.
"I firmly believe that hard work, dedication, perseverance and a visionary attitude placed in a project are the basis to making it happen. I'm an artist and a promoter of conservation, of social responsibility and the preservation of the walnut tree."