A Scavenger’s Tale – Lima, Peru, Maricruz Arribas


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In Maricruz Arribas' hands, even her mess becomes beautiful.

Krrb recently made a pilgrimage to Lima, Peru, where it is estimated that there are some 100,000 professional scavengers. Earlier in the week we visited with Cuatro en un Baúl, a trio who, with the help of young Peruvian artists and designers, specialize in refurbishing vintage furniture, often giving it a new twist. Yesterday, it was on to the home/studio of artist and designer, Meche Correa and the studio/showroom/home of designer Vacide Erda Zimic. And today, our final day in Peru, we visit with the artist and founder of Taller Huaringa (The Witches’ Workshop), Maricruz Arribas.

Maricruz Arribas is a painter by trade but her keen eye extends far beyond the canvas. She is attuned to color and composition in such a deeply ingrained way that even her messes are beautiful, sprawling, picturesque tableaus.

It’s not difficult to pick out her 200 year-old home in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima. It sits subtly just off the street, careful not to disturb the historic block but not content to simply fit in with the crowd. When Maricruz renovated the structure recently she injected it with a shot of Tonka Trunk-Yellow that makes its unmistakable mark on the street-scape.

Streetside, Maricruz Arribas

Tonka Truck-yellow steel support beams inject a colorful burst on an otherwise sedate block of Lima.

Step beyond the front gate and witness the seamless melding of old and new, inside and out. The front door is original as are its hinges.

OG doors

Original front doors and tile.


Original hinges do the trick.

Once inside the significant changes become more apparent. The plan was to tear down the outside wall but as the team proceeded with the demolition they loved the aesthetics and the utility of the structure. It now serves as a bookcase and a perfect setting for Maricruz’s ever-expanding collection of Peruvian pop (and not) cultural artifacts.


Wall or bookcase or both?

Peruvian wedding beam

A detail of one of Maricruz's many traditional Peruvian artifacts.

Throughout, Maricruz’s undying love of yellow is evident and help sets off the new from the old.

Peeks of yellow

A view through the living room into the back patio.

On the roof, a monstrous bougainvillea plant threatens to take over…


Despite the encroaching bougainvillea the roof offers great views of Lima.

And conceals one of Maricruz’s friend’s woodcut sculpture…


Woodcut sculpture concealed by bougainvillea.

wood detail

Up close and personal.

The whole house is a study in reuse. The staircase leading from the roof to the patio utilizes the old roof as the new stairs.


A study in reuse - old roofing material now serves as new stairs.

through the bougainvillea

The bougainvillea provides some shade, though its not often needed because of Lima's cloud cover.


Lima's lush life, evident in Maricruz's back patio.

back patio sculptures

Traditional Incan sculptures on the back patio.

From Maricruz’s house it’s a quick drive over to her studio, Taller Huaringa, or the Witches Workshop. Maricruz is most well-known as a painter and she uses Taller Huaringa as a space to explore her other work in which she incorporates found objects and scavenged material.

Taller Huaringa

Maricruz opens the door to Taller Huaringa to a visitor.

Scavenging is, of course a big part of this. Maricruz explains that her work at Taller Huaringa is about “paying respect to the ordinary things. It is about the magic of transformation.” Inside, the studio is a simply unbelievable collection of the things that dot everyday contemporary life. Mufflers, toothbrushes, thread spools, light-bulbs, rakes, toys, hairbrushes, shopping bags—all contained within a magical, light-filled space flooded with the artist’s signature yellow and accented by bright purple bougainvillea.

Behind the doors

The journey has just begun.

Color pallet

Maricruz's color pallete of choice extends to her scavenging as well.

stuff for future use

Collections of everything line every crevice and corner.

thread spools

Old thread spools await transformation.

shopping bags

Shopping bags lay in wait.

collection of stuff

Seemingly nothing escapes Maricruz's eye.


A work in progress utilizing the ancient Incan system of Quipu, or "Talking Knots."

Taller Huaringa rooftop

Up on the roof Maricruz's curated, scavenged collections continue.


Detail of Maricruz's studio roof.

On the roof of the studio sits Maricruz’s treasure trove of a storage space—”where I keep all the things I’ve collected over the years but no one will let me keep anywhere else,” she says.

scavenged collection

Maricruz's storage space of Peruvian finds.

The reclaimed material starts to take shape at the Witches’ Workshop. Brushes become seating. Shopping bags serve as upholstery. New life is slowly breathed into old, forgotten, cast off objects.

shopping upholstery

Shopping bags now serve as upholstery.

brush stroke

And brushes become perfect seating.

Treasures lay hidden under every surface.

treasures everywhere

The Virgin Mary peeks out from under the plaster.

A visit to Taller Huaringa was a fitting end to Krrb’s visit to Peru. Deeply inspired by the creative reuse and the scavenging skill we witnessed in Lima, we got prepared to head back to New York with some ideas of our own. But not before being bid a fond farewell by one of Maricruz’s four pups. We look forward to our next visit to see what we can find!

bye bye

See you soon! Buen Viaje!

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    This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last week.