Andrea Heckman has worked in the Ausangate area for over twenty years as a trekking and cultural guide. A weaver herself, a photographer, and a speaker of the Quechua language, she received a Fulbright foundation grant to fund the research for a doctoral dissertation on Quechua textiles, working under the guidance of noted anthropological scholar Alfonso Ortiz. She earned her Ph.D. in Latin American studies from the University of New Mexico in 1997. Drawing on that work, she developed an ethnographic exhibit for the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Albuquerque, entitled Cultural Communication Through Andean Textiles (2001-02).
In 2003, her book, Woven Stories: Andean Textiles and Rituals, was published by the University of New Mexico Press. She has taught a variety of courses on ritual, art and Latin American studies at the University of New Mexico and at Appalachian State University. She is based in Taos, New Mexico, and continues to live three-to-four months a year in Peru.