Tinkuy 2017: A Gathering of Textile Arts in Cusco

Tinkuy 2017, celebrated in Cusco, Peru from November 8 until November 11, began with the much anticipated parade from the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco to the Convention Centre, where the meeting was to be held. The colorful display of tradition and exuberance was clearly felt far beyond those attending the meeting. Citizens of the Cusco region and tourists alike stopped in their tracks to watch the prideful display of traditional textile techniques, many originating from far beyond the Peruvian border.

This, the third Tinkuy, came with notable additions. Formerly subtitled the “Gathering of the Weavers”, this year it was called the “Gathering of the Textile Arts”, which meant that embroiderers and specialty dyers were included in the celebration. Also, as if celebrating traditional techniques was not enough, this year the underlying theme included celebrating the continuation of tradition by including the youth. Lectures and discussion often involved ways that village members are transmitting technical information to the younger generation and also talking about how the social relevance is conveyed and maintained. Many young people attended the meeting, particularly on the last day of the conference which included a “Passing of the Torch to the Younger Generation”, a particularly poignant moment.

Every day’s packed schedule included guest textile artist presentations, which for me were particularly interesting. At this time, the artisans had an opportunity to talk about what they are doing within their communities as they move forward, how they have formulated their future plans, and how they intend to ensure that supplies will remain available and/or their deliberate return to traditional methods. They also talked about their young people and how they are tending to them and their commitment to maintaining tradition. It was humbling to listen to the effort that they are expending in keeping their creative lives meaningful for their children.

Teaching the youth.

The keynote addresses set the backdrop for the conference and tied the evidence that we were seeing around us to the textiles’ long and extensive history. That perspective really was essential, forcing the conference participants to take a deep breath and try to understand the magnitude of all that was around them.

The schedule included time for demonstrations and workshops every day. This time clearly pointed to the unspoken theme of Tinkuy – the cross pollination of ideas and techniques. This happened at so many levels – from one culture and/or village to another, from one specialty to another, from one fiber-type to another, from one country to another – and it was all truly magical.  People had come from many villages within Peru, as well as other countries within South America, such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Traditional artists from Guatemala, Mexico, the United States, Canada, Afghanistan, India and Laos also attended.

People gave so much of themselves, often with so much thankfulness. Sometimes the gift came in the form of a song, sometimes in the form of a dance. Tinkuy 2017 was a special time of color, textiles, dance, music, learning and inspiration. Thank you CTTC and ATA!!

Thanks Teena for sharing your wonderful experience with all of us!

Textile Teena in her element!

On the Road with Weaving for Justice

ON THE ROAD
People who love textiles love to travel because of the many opportunities to learn and experience culture through textiles and textile traditions. Traveling is one way to create or be a part of a connected textile community like WARP. But when travel is not possible, you can often connect to textile communities in your own back yard!

Weaving for Justice founding member Christine Eber, took Weaving for Justice on the road in October. Her vehicle was full of woven textiles and handmade items from several womens’ weaving cooperatives located in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. After a stop-over in Tucson, AZ, she headed to California for the 52nd Annual Borrego Days Desert Festival. She happily connected people in Southern California to the Maya textile communities in Chiapas.

WEAVING FOR JUSTICE SUPPORTS WOMEN
For decades Weaving for Justice, a non-profit, volunteer organization headquartered in Las Cruces, New Mexico has worked in solidarity with women’s weaving cooperatives in state of Chiapas. The organization’s goal is to assist co-op members to continue living in a sustainable and respectful way on their ancestral lands, to honor their Tzotsil language and their cultural traditions. Weaving for Justice has helped raise public awareness about social and economic justice, threats to efforts of the Chiapas weaving cooperatives and to issues of human rights in the region.

The collaboration between Weaving for Justice and the cooperatives assists weavers in finding various ways to market their products through a model of fair trade with 100% of the sale proceeds returned to the weavers.

COOPERATIVE WORK
Connecting the cooperatives with artisan groups on the US/Mexican border is one way products are marketed. Women weave to support themselves and their families. Co-op members unite around their work as weavers and common interest in issues of social and economic justice.

STOP IN FOR A VISIT
If you are in Las Cruces, NM stop in to visit La Frontera, the all-volunteer fair trade store run by Weaving for Justice. It’s located in the Nopalito’s Galería at 125 S. Mesquite St. (lafronterafairtrade@gmail.com). You will find hand-woven items from Chiapas, as well as textiles made by women from the cities of Juárez and Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico. The store is open Saturdays 9-4 during the months of November and December or by appointment (contact Christine Eber ceber@nmsu.edu).

Weaving for Justice will be on the road again, returning to Tucson in spring 2018 bringing a trunk show hosted by EXO Roast Coffee Co. (403 N 6th Ave.). This is what my community looks like. What does YOUR community look like?

 

Chiapas to Oaxaca – Textile Connections Changing Lives

For many of us a whole new world opens up when we travel. Weave A Real Peace helped two young Maya women, Claudia Pérez Pérez and Celia Arias Pérez travel from Chenalhó, Chiapas to Oaxaca for the annual meeting in June. This was only the second trip for both young women outside of Chiapas and they were deeply moved by the hugs and good feelings generated during their time with WARP members.

During our Friday meeting one of the topics we discussed was the pros and cons of outsiders wearing traditional clothing, including the huipiles of Maya tradition. Here are Claudia’s thoughts, in her own words.

We feel very comfortable when we see a foreigner wearing our blouse. We think that she isnt an egotistic woman, that she doesnt feel that she is better than us. I feel very happy to see that she wears it on her body, that she has a good heart for us. We think that she honors us, that she has great caring for us, that she gives us a lot of support.
                                                            Claudia Pérez Pérez of Tsobol Antsetik, Chiapas, México, June 2017

Both Celia and Claudia gathered ideas from our Saturday tour to several Zapotec weaving and dyeing families in Teotitlan del Valle, including new ways to talk to visitors who come to their co-op’s meeting house in Chenalhó and how they might develop a museum in their meeting house. Christine will give them a boost by returning textiles she has collected from the coop since the 80s to build a collection. I am waiting in line to share my background in museum anthropology and exhibit design – can you see my hand waving?

Upon their return to Chiapas Claudia gave an hour and a half long report on the trip. In a very Maya way she gave an hour-by-hour rundown for the entire 5 day schedule! Claudia since has taken a major step to continue her education. Since dropping out of middle school at 14 to marry she has regretted that decision, but on Saturdays she now attends a school in San Cristóbal, studying computing and English. She loves the experience and Christine is confident Claudia will become a leader of women in her community, following in her mother’s footsteps.

Celia and Claudia were a delight – new friends from Mexico to support and cherish for the work they do in their communities. Christine Eber has spent years working with the women of Chiapas and continues to offer support to them in many ways, including establishing Weaving For Justice in Las Cruses, New Mexico. We thank Christine for sharing this story of how our members create and support connected textile communities. The photos were also shared by Christine.

Celia and Claudia enjoying the Oaxaca experience.

Next month we will learn more about Weaving for Justice, a volunteer non-proift organization in Las Cruses, created to assist the members of the cooperatives in Chiapas to continue living on their ancestral lands in sustainable ways that respect their lands, language (Tsotsil), and traditions.

In the meantime, think about how you create a connected textile community – local, global or in-between and share your story with us on the WARP blog!      Judy Newland, WARP board member

 

Weaving Through a Garden

Weave a Real Peace members visited the Oaxaca botanical garden in June during the 2017 Annual Meeting

 Guest post written by Gail Ryser

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The thing that I love about visiting a botanical garden is how easily the landscapes and vistas transport you across space—to different climates and other places around the world, sometimes familiar– sometimes not. And the really cool thing about visiting an ethno-botanical garden is that you can be transported across space and time, because this kind of garden also showcases plants used by people. Such was my experience while visiting the Jardín Etnobotánico in Oaxaca City, Mexico. This city is a perfect place for such a garden; it is a UNESCO city of Culture, and is in one of the most bio-diverse regions of Mexico.

The only way to visit this garden is to be part of a guided tour. As our fabulous guide Georgina Rosas led us on winding paths through the 2 plus hectares, we learned that the creation of the garden was a collaboration between artist Francisco Toledo and anthropologist Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg; it is part of the Santa Domingo Cultural Center.

The garden is a showcase of plant diversity organized by climate zones, and of innovative and practical installation features that are prime examples of cutting edge sustainability. Renovation of the church grounds and building of the gardens included a passive rainwater catchment system that directs rainwater from the roof of adjacent buildings to an underground cistern (below a huge plaza) with a capacity of over 1 million liters. In an experimental setting a large geothermal temperature-controlled glass-greenhouse with roof access through a central stair, protects several species of plants and trees.

There is another story expressed in the plantings of the garden; one that reflects regional history and intentionally symbolizes cooperation and resistance experienced by native peoples. Domestication of corn from a grass known as Teosinte and squash began in this region around 10,000 years ago. Today, 47 of the 57 varieties of native (non-GMO) corn are in the State of Oaxaca. We are told that the garden also hosts rare and endangered species (perhaps the reason plants are not labeled). Georgina also takes us through a forest of prickly pear cacti ‘guarded’ by walls of columnar cacti. Prickly pear supports cochineal, a small insect that produces an intense red dye. The dye played a major role in the economic development of Spain during the 16th century. Only silver was a larger export from the New World to Madrid.

Thank you to Alejandro, the director of the Oaxaca Botanical Garden, for allowing WARP to use these photos.

 

Gail Ryser lives in Tucson, is an archaeologist specializing in paleoethnobotany and perishable fibers. Her research area is the central Andean coast. She is an active water-harvester, seed saver, and gardener.

PO Box 87351 Tucson, AZ 85754 glryser@gmail.com

Welcoming our 2017 Scholarship Winners!

This year, due to generous donations, WARP selected three Alice Brown Memorial Scholarship winners.

Alisa, Dakota and Nicole will be joining us for the conference in Oaxaca. Here is a preview of what we’ll learn about them in-person!

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Alisa Ruzavina

Alisa Ruzavina is a fashion/textiles designer and a Central Saint Martins student, specializing in Womenswear Design with Print. She was brought up in Moscow and is currently based in London. Here you can get a glimpse of her universe: www.alisa-ruzavina.com.

Her current interests lie in resisting fast fashion and the total digitization of design processes through detailed study, conservation and preservation of world traditional craft techniques in her own fashion work, as well as the manifestation of radical joy through the use of colour. She explores cultural, historical, archetypal, esoteric, occult and mythological artifacts and dreamscapes through elaborate surface design and textile manipulation to create a contemporary narrative with deep roots in art and craft history.

Dakota Mace

Dakota Mace is currently an MFA student at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Working both in photography and textiles, much of her work focuses on re-contextualizing the stories and deities that aspire from Navajo designs. Her MFA work is a series developed from learning traditional as well as western weaving styles to incorporate her interpretation of Navajo weaving.

Dakota writes, “The development of my work is part of a larger idea of wanting to create a bridge to understanding Native American traditional practices through nontraditional forms of art. My photographic work is a continuation of understanding my Native heritage through my lens, and through the loom I understand the connection between the weaver and the materials. The ultimate goal is to bring awareness to the development of Native American art forms and bring tradition into the Fine Arts world. Through the Alice Brown Memorial Scholarship, my research will go further into understanding the aesthetics of Navajo weaving and embracing the connection between weaver and loom.”

Nicole Giacomantonio

Nicole comes from an interdisciplinary background of fine arts, art history and museum studies, and has graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. Since graduation, Nicole has tailored her work and education experiences to her love of the preservation and promotion of culture and heritage. She has worked as both a conservation intern and as a weaving intern at studios and private practices across North America, and has spent significant time touring museum collections. She hopes to one day apply her education and skill to the preservation and promotion of art in Canada.

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Congratulations to the 2017 scholarship winners.

This year, all 13 of the scholarship applicants received a one-year WARP membership. Thank you to all those who applied.

We look forward to having each of you in our community!

Creating Connected Textile Communities in the US

This month Kelsey Viola Wiskirchen  has written a guest blog about her work with textile communities in the US.

The International Institute in St. Louis, Missouri, is a welcome center for new Americans. Serving immigrants and refugees from over 80 countries, the International Institute provides language classes, employment training, and a wide variety of community integration support services. The Institute is, for many, one of the first steps towards establishing a new life in St. Louis.

As part of the employment training program, I teach a sewing certification course in alterations and commercial sewing. Beginning with the basics, students learn to use domestic and industrial sewing and overlock machines. We cover many aspects of garment construction and tailoring, from simple zipper replacements to constructing clothing from patterns to altering blazers and pantsuits.

The International Institute has a large staff, and the employees are our practice clients. During class hours, they are invited to visit the sewing studio and bring garments that need altering or repair. These projects provide my students with hands-on experience taking measurements and making alteration notes. Most importantly, they ensure each student has a diverse assortment of items to practice on and learn from.

In my classes, there is a range of prior sewing experience. Some students may have worked in the textile industry in their home countries while others have never used a sewing machine. As most students have very recently arrived in the United States, the majority are learning English while simultaneously learning to sew. It is rewarding to see the simultaneous development of language and craft, and to experience the openness with which my students approach one another and their work, even when communication is difficult.

The International Institute is committed to helping its students establish careers in each discipline. In the St. Louis area, there are garment factories, small-scape alterations businesses, and other opportunities in the fashion and textile industries. After completing the certification program, the Institute continues to work with each graduate on their job search – through guidance with applications and interview preparation, and follows up to ensure success.

Kelsey Viola Wiskirchen
Kelsey Viola Wiskirchen

Kelsey Viola Wiskirchen is a textile artist & educator living in St. Louis, Missouri. She has been a member of WARP since 2010, when she was a graduate student at Arizona State University and received the Alice Brown Memorial Scholarship to attend the annual conference.  Kelsey currently teaches sewing classes at the International Institute & community workshops from her studio in St. Louis.

Traveling Textile Stories Can Weave A Real Peace

Do you ever wonder why we textile folks love to travel the world in search of the chance to meet other textile makers and lovers? What can be accomplished by passing on the techniques of creating cloth and sharing stories with new artisans we meet? Travel offers a bridge to understanding culture through textiles and their place in our lives.

Much of my travel has focused on the cultural study of textiles, both ancient artifacts and contemporary cloth. One such trip to El Salvador stands out because I discovered the many layers of meaning that cloth can bring to a place where history, politics, and people are enveloped in the blue of indigo.

In 2007, after a long journey from Guatemala to El Salvador, members of Weave A Real Peace arrived at Hacienda San Juan Buena Vista and heard Grace Guirola’s personal story, one that spans generations and seemed destined for a bright blue future. Grace’s great grandparents produced and processed indigo in the distant past, but her family fled to the safety of the United States during the civil war in El Salvador, the land taken by cooperatives during the agrarian reform. Years later she was able to buy some of her family’s land from the cooperative, return to her beloved landscape and begin a long journey of restoring her ancestral home and building a life based on indigo and cloth.

We walked the ground where Grace had planted two varieties of indigo, shared stories over a meal and delightfully dyed yarn in her indigo vats after dark. It was a memorable experience that resulted in a small treasure trove of dyed items to carry home. But the indigo had penetrated more than cloth, it had created a memory to carry, one more woven story in my mind.

Indigo memories in cloth.

I have been fortunate to travel many places around the world and these international experiences have completely reshaped the way I think about our global environment. The exhilarating experience of being thrown into the unpredictable miasma of a world market—be it the plaka, the souk, or the plaza—will change a person. And everywhere in these world markets there are textiles, dye plants, and the stories and memories of women.

The textiles in our lives are so much more than beautiful objects, they contain the stories of our lives and the world. You are stitching a part of WARP’s story and each story reflects country, culture, ideas, ideals. Cloth, in all its various forms, is a powerful agent of change in many regions of our world – cloth can be transformative and reach across the widest gap.

So, what can we do? First, how about being a Textile Ambassador? Check into ClothRoads and sign up for their email list and you will be able to download a wonderful pdf on how to be a Traveling Textile Ambassador. Next, pack your bags and get ready to travel to Mexico and meet people who love cloth as much as you do. Let’s go find new friends and create new woven stories to share.

Get out – travel – join us – share your story on FB and Google Groups; together we can Weave A Real Peace

 

Good Reads and Resources for Oaxaca travelers…

Textile Fiestas of Mexico: A Traveler’s Guide to Celebrations, Markets and Smart Shopping, 2016, Sheri Brautigam. Fabulous book and just what you need for Oaxaca. Available at ClothRoads and ThrumsBooks.

Zapotec Weavers of Teotitlan, 1999, Andra Stanton. The culture, legacy and techniques of Zapotec weaving.

The Unbroken Thread: Conserving the Textile Traditions of Oaxaca, 1997, Kathryn Klein, ed. Conserving the textile collection at the Regional Museum of Oaxaca.

Artisans and Advocacy in the Global Market:Walking the Heart Path, 2015, Simonelli, O’Donnell and Nash, eds. The latest on working with artisan groups, including our own Christine Eber’s work in Chiapas. She will be bringing two women to the meeting in Oaxaca.

A Textile Guide to the Highlands of Chiapas, 2011, Walter Morris Jr., if you are going into Chiapas!

Maya Threads: A Woven History of Chiapas, 2015, Morris Jr. and Karasik, a history of the cultural textiles of the Maya of the Chiapas area.

Norma Schafer: Guide for the WARP Conference 2017 in Oaxaca Mexico

As we approach the 2017 WARP annual meeting in Oaxaca, I wanted to feature Norma Schafer on the blog. Norma is a cultural navigator who lives and works in Oaxaca. She has close relationships with indigenous artisans in her community and develops travel programs that are focused around textile traditions. And she is WARP’s cultural navigator for our 2017 meeting.

The annual meeting will run June 8-11 in Oaxaca. More information and registration can be found here.

Norma is both a fiber artist and photographer who has worked extensively in university administration positions. She has been the executive director of Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC since 2006. Norma is assisting WARP with the development of the two-day program which is posted on the WARP website. Highlights include keynote speaker Marta Turok, an applied anthropologist who focuses on socio-economic artisan development in Mexico. She is considered one of the foremost experts on Mexican Folk Art.

Norma has also arranged for a Saturday program of visits to artisan studios with demonstrations and discussion of the natural dye tradition in Oaxaca, Mexico. Participants will meet weavers of rugs, home goods, handbags and clothing in their home studios where we will see the weavers working on the flying shuttle loom and tapestry loom, as well as doing traditional carding, spinning and dyeing methods using cochineal, indigo and other local plant sources.

 

Norma writes:

“I am committed to preserving the arts and cultural traditions of indigenous people who have lived in the Oaxaca Valley for over 8,000 years. My vision is to facilitate intercultural exchange programs with Oaxaca artists and artisans and to broaden opportunities for visitors to have authentic, personal learning experiences in Oaxaca.”

“I’m excited to welcome WARP members to Oaxaca for this very special textile event. It’s going to be a great weekend that includes visits to artisan home studios where weavers work only in natural dyes. I want to add that despite the inflammatory political rhetoric flying around about Mexico from the newly elected US administration, Mexico is safe and welcoming. I am in Mexico City now, and everyone I meet in shops and on the street tell me how happy they are I am here. Oaxaca is very safe and secure. It is a walking town with large pedestrian avenues and depends on tourism to keep the work of our artisans vibrant. We have a robust ex-pat community and we all feel safe and supported.
I would encourage all who are thinking about coming to hesitate no further. It is a wonderful time to be in Mexico with the strength of the U.S. dollar. Our textile artisans welcome you and need your support.
Plus, we have an outstanding program that will stimulate your senses!
Bienvenidas,
Norma Schafer, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC”