2022 WARP Annual Meeting – June 24-26 on Zoom
Tradition, Innovation & Community Stewardship:
Evolution of Textile Arts
Community stewardship includes both honoring the past and safeguarding the future. In many textile communities, age-old traditions merge with new innovations. For our 2022 conference, WARP will bring together speakers from textile communities around the world to discuss questions artisans face in our ever-changing world. How do weaving communities cope with issues of commercialization and cultural appropriation? What is the role of young generations in adapting for a sustainable future? What can we all do to give voice to weavers and improve the quality of life of textile artisans worldwide?
This program was free & open to all – You can view the program recordings by clicking below
2022 Online Conference Presenters
Keynote Speaker: Lily Hope
Intertwining Community with Reemerging Traditional Materials
Saturday, June 25th at 11:30 am US Eastern Time
Lily Hope (b. 1980) was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska to full-time artists. She is Tlingit Indian, of the Raven moiety. Following her matrilineal line, she’s of her grandmother’s clan, the T’akdeintaan. She learned Ravenstail weaving from her late mother Clarissa Rizal, and Kay Parker, both of Juneau. She also apprenticed for over a decade in Chilkat weaving with Rizal who, until her untimely passing in December 2016, was one of the last living apprentices of the late Master Chilkat Weaver, Jennie Thlanaut. Lily feels the pressure to leave honorable weavers in her place. She is president and co-founder of www.spirituprising.com, a non-profit dedicated to maintaining, recording, and teaching weaving with integrity.
Lily’s contemporary works in textile and paper collage weave together Ravenstail and Chilkat design. She is one of few designers of dancing blankets. She teaches both finger-twined styles extensively in person (and virtually since COVID-19), in the Yukon Territory, down the coast of SE Alaska, into Washington and Oregon. She demonstrates internationally and offers lectures on the spiritual commitments of being a weaver. Committed to co-creating as her mother was, she’s constantly looking for ways to collaborate with other artists, often spearheading multi-community projects, or managing huge campaigns, like the #AKMaskUp poster collaboration, bringing the importance of mask-wearing into the forefront of Alaskans’ minds, while highlighting over 20 indigenous artists, models, and Alaska Native languages.
Textile artists on the Southeast coast of Alaska are pivoting back toward traditional material use of mountain goat and cedar bark to create ceremonial regalia. During her presentation, Lily will share about this movement which is rebuilding community, fostering intergenerational connections, and reclaiming material sovereignty. Learn more about Lily at her website www.lilyhope.com, and follow her on Instagram @lilyhopeweaver.
Adaptation with Migration
Panel Discussion with Artisans Beyond Borders
Saturday, June 25th at 12:30 pm US Eastern Time
Every day around the world, people make one of the most difficult decisions in their lives: to leave their homes in search of a safer, better life. At la Casa de la Misericordia y Todas Naciones – the House of Mercy and all Nations, asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border have a safe place to wait for entry to the US. There, Artisans Beyond Borders supports bordadoras (embroiderers) and tejedoras (weavers). Through the acts of weaving, stitching, and crocheting, these artisans create a piece of home in this new, unknown place. Artisans Beyond Borders and their non-profit partners in Mexico help restore grace and agency through traditional handwork, solidarity among the artisans, and respect for cultural and familial arts across borders.
The bi-national Artisans Beyond Borders also works with embroiderers and weavers newly arrived in the U.S., who are legally petitioning for asylum after waiting months, even years, at the U.S.-Mexico border. One of the first things often lost in migration is one’s own cultural and familial art, resulting in deep cultural bereavement and deculturation. What are Artisans Beyond Borders and their partners doing to preserve our new neighbors’ maker tradition(s)? On this panel, we will hear the stories of Artisans Beyond Borders, their partners, and the artisans themselves. We will discover why upholding handmade cultural and familial arts – pre- and post-migration – is critical now to all of us moving forward.
As the Border and Migration Outreach Coordinator for the West Coast Mennonite Central Committee and the co-coordinator of Arizona’s Casa Mariposa Detention Visitation Program, Katherine Smith is dedicated to working with asylum seekers and teaching others about immigration and border realities. After college, Kat spent a year volunteering with the Women’s Co-op ANADESA in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala and lived with her host family of traditional embroiderers. Back in the States, she served as the Site and Volunteer Coordinator for Casa Alitas (House of Wings), Tucson’s lead Migrant Shelter, and now she works closely with Artisans Beyond Borders leading the U.S. Support team for las bordadoras (the embroiderers) who are legally awaiting asylum in the U.S.
Esmerelda Ibarra, an indigenous embroiderer from Guerrero, Mexico, is a leading voice in the Save Asylum movement advocating for human rights and the dignity of indigenous people. Esmerelda worked with Artisans Beyond Borders while she and her family were stranded at the U.S. Mexico border for almost two years and now in the U.S. as she and her family await asylum. Esmerelda’s indigenous embroidery, carried by the United Nations Association Center in Tucson, has also inspired the Global Initiatives program at the Parsons School of Design. “At the border, I was able to embroider again and it made me remember my beautiful childhood. It brings me love and much tranquility inside my heart,” she says.
Sister Lika Macias is the executive director of la Casa de la Misericordia y Todas Naciones – the House of Mercy and all Nations, a migrant led shelter in Nogales, Mexico. Hermana Lika is a respected and skilled community leader who believes strongly in the power of art to heal, comfort, and foster solidarity amongst the shelter’s residents. Recently, Sister Lika and staff established a Maker space at the shelter for the resident embroiderers, weavers, and sewers. A talented painter in her own right, Sister Lika studied traditional iconography in Rome, South America, and Russia.
Panel Moderator: Valarie James, founder of Artisans Beyond Borders, affirms art, faith, and social justice in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. As an artist and writer, James is best known for collaborative public art in Tucson including Las Madres: No Más Lágrimas (No More Tears), The Migrant Shrine at Southside, and the installation ‘Hardship and Hope at the U.S. Mexico Border’ at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, Sweden. As a retired Clinical Art Therapist, James lead the trauma-informed arts & activities at Tucson’s Casa Alitas Migrant shelter and she is currently the lead curator for the artisans’ traveling exhibition Bordando Esperanza – Embroidering Hope: Retablos of Asylum. Writings on arts and immigration can be found at Art and Faith in the Desert
Keynote Speaker: Arushi Chowdhury Khanna
Himroo: Reviving the Lost Weave of Aurangabad
Saturday, June 25th at 2:00 pm US Eastern Time
Arushi Chowdhury Khanna founded LoomKatha, which is a play on the Hindi word “Lok Katha” meaning “Folk Tale” – a story of the people, by the people and for the people of India. LoomKatha travels to remote parts of the country to discover the finest and rarest handloomed textiles, then working directly with the weavers they create contemporary apparel using the traditional designs and techniques. They presently work with close to 100 weavers in W. Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. LoomKatha have also been instrumental in reviving the rare Himroo weave of Aurangabad.
Himroo is an ornate brocade hand-weave that developed in the princely city of Aurangabad in the 13th century. It managed to survive and thrive over the centuries due to the sheer beauty and uniqueness of the textile. As late as 1961, there were over 200 Himroo weavers in Aurangabad. However, in a decade of work in Indian handlooms, Arushi had never seen a single Himroo shawl. Very intrigued, when she founded the organization LoomKatha in 2018, Himroo was one of the first weaving styles she wanted to work with. When Arushi reached Aurangabad, she saw sign boards everywhere talking about Himroo shops and even Himroo “factories”. To her dismay, she realized that the word Himroo was now being used on mass-produced viscose bed-sheets that had usurped some elements of the Himroo design aesthetic. It was also being used to sell shawls, sarees and scarfs that were not even made in Aurangabad, but again, had some element that made them “look” like Himroo. The challenge was, therefore, not just the technical one of reviving the weaving technique itself, but reviving the consumer awareness and appeal of the original textile.
Baskets of the World
Panel Discussion dedicated to Jackie Abrams
Saturday, June 25th at 3:00 pm US Eastern Time
The WARP network includes textile-based artisans of all disciplines, including basket makers. For this panel discussion, we welcome representatives of basket weaving communities from Namibia (OMBA), Guatemala (Mayan Hands), and Panama (Rainforest Baskets). Join us as we learn the stories of the basket weavers from these regions of the world.
This panel discussion, focused on basket weaving communities, is dedicated to WARP member Jackie Abrams, who passed away in 2021 after a lifetime of work as a basketry artist, teacher, and community consultant. Jackie was a beloved member of the WARP community for nearly 20 years. She influenced the way WARP understands not just weaving, but all textile traditions, by helping everyone to see that basketry is integral to textile communities worldwide. Jackie was active in her local Vermont community, as well as nationally and internationally. Through her thoughtful work as a basketry artist and her advocacy work in basketry communities around the world, Jackie was a primary example of how being an artist and being a community activist are inherently tied together. Her work deeply influenced the WARP community, and even more so, her work in communities impacted the world. We established the WARP Community Leadership Award in 2022 to honor Jackie.
Karin le Roux, who has been living in rural communities in Namibia for over 30 years, is the founding director of the Omba Arts Trust, a Namibian not-for-profit social enterprise that supports the sustainable livelihoods of hundreds of artisans and artists. Omba works with over 200 weavers in three regions in northern Namibia, including the San Khwe in the Bwabwata National Park. The baskets are all distinctly different in style, but all are made from the fronds of the Hyphaene petersiana, locally known as the makalani palm.
Rainforest Baskets has been collecting and importing art from the Wounaan weavers since 2002. Rainforest Baskets is the small team of Ed & Jen Kuyper, and also their invaluable Panama half, Sebedeo Piraza, a member of the Wounaan community. Rainforest Baskets was launched in 2002 in Santa Fe, NM. Their goals evolved over time, but the overlying focus is to support the perception of Wounaan basketry as fine art, while helping collectors learn about the people and the basket-making process.
Michele Hament wove her first basket from the hanging branches of the willow trees growing along the banks of the Charles River in Boston. Over the decades since, as her vision has changed and expanded, she has continued to explore functional and non-functional basketry. She has had the amazing opportunity to teach pine needle basketry to Maya women artisans in Guatemala through Maya Traditions and Mayan Hands. Michele’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and has been included in 500 Baskets, Fiberarts Design Book II and in several other publications.
As Executive Director of Mayan Hands for the last 10 years, Anne Kelly has had the enormous privilege to partner with talented Mayan women artisans in Guatemala. They have welcomed her into their creative process as they design pine needle and wild grass baskets destined for an international market.
Panel Moderator: Cael Chappell’s basket making grows from his love of basketry. Seventeen years before weaving his first basket, Cael founded Baskets of Africa, a fair trade verified company committed to economic empowerment for basket weavers from over 20 countries. Traveling across Africa to meet weavers, Cael discovered that basketry is as diverse as it is universal. After years of commitment to the art of basketry and the weavers in Africa, Cael wove his first basket in 2017. He is inspired by global weaving traditions to create his own unique baskets. Cael enjoys working full time on his Baskets of Africa project both to support weavers, and to be able to offer an amazing array of African baskets to collectors around the world.
2022 Alice Brown Memorial Scholarship Recipients
Saturday, June 25th at 5:30 pm US Eastern Time
The Alice Brown Memorial Scholarship is an award for students and young professionals who are invested in WARP’s mission. Scholarship recipients are invited to the Annual Meeting to connect with the WARP community. This year’s recipients will share their research and creative practices during our 2022 virtual meeting, then join us for our next in-person conference in 2023. We are thrilled to welcome this remarkable group to WARP!
Olaitan Adeleke is a Ph.D. student in the Wearable Technology Lab at the University of Minnesota. Her research is in developing solar textiles targeted toward the African continent. There are no African electronic textiles (E-Textiles) due to a lack of awareness and inconsistent power. Olaitan is developing woven solar E-Textiles that weavers in Africa can adopt to power appliances in their homes using sustainable solar power abundant in the region. Her career goal is to use her apparel design and technology skills to develop the first African Solar E-Textile.
Prerana Choudhury hails from Assam in the northeastern part of India. Her initiative, House of Noorie, is a micro handloom entity that is born in Assam and works towards preserving the weaving traditions of indigenous communities of the region. Prerana began HoN with the intention of sustaining the beautiful aesthetic traditions and design histories of the traditional Assamese manual loom. She works with everyday rural women and home-based weavers, and the work is small and slow in nature. Prerana comes from an academic background of cultural anthropology that greatly influences her approach towards creating textiles.
Trisha Gupta is a contemporary artist, a community activist, an educator, and a leader of art as therapy. She works with textiles, paint, printmaking, and a variety of diverse mediums. Her work is heavily influenced by social inequality and she explores themes of colonialism, mental health, and immigration. She is strongly influenced by her Indian American heritage. After being trained in the Western tradition of woodblock printing; she returned to her home in Rajasthan to learn about Indian Woodblock carving. She loves teaching Asian printmaking processes like Indian woodblock printing, Japanese woodblock, and viscosity. She is committed to preserving traditional folk art and fine Indian printmaking. In particular, she has learned about Indian block printing with natural plant-based dyes.
Elisa Lutteral is a textile maker with a fashion design background, currently undergoing an MFA in Textiles at Parsons. She also works with textile makers and artisans in Argentina focused on reappraising Argentinean textile talent. In Elisa’s words: “Textiles are the largest legacy of woman’s knowledge passed down generation through generation. They have become spaces of protest and expression of liberation. To study women’s history is to study textiles. I research textiles of the past to create textiles of the future I envision for women.”
Inspired Fashion Design: Innovation meets Tradition
Panel Discussion with Ethical Designers Lola Faturoti & Bianca Kuttickattu
Saturday, June 25th at 6:30 pm US Eastern Time
The fashion industry globally is the 4th largest sector in textile production, with a huge impact on the environment and society. More and more, consumers and designers are embracing a “slow fashion” approach, which takes into consideration all aspects of the supply chain and in doing so, aims to respect people and the environment. For this panel, we welcome two fashion designers who have developed a mindful, sustainable practice in their work. Lola Faturoti and Bianca Kuttickattu both draw inspiration from the textile traditions of their cultural heritages, and will share their ideologies about fashion design, sustainable practice, and design innovation.
Lola Faturoti was born in Ondo, Nigeria. Her father was an architect and a tribal chief and her grandmother was a traditional tailor. In Lola’s words: “I wanted to be out playing with other kids, but I had to sit next to my grandmother and watch her sew beautiful attire for the women in our town. This is when I started to discover the power fashion could have. A brand new outfit allowed a woman to reinvent herself, to metamorphosize into a version of herself she could have only dreamed about. This sparked my life-long love of fashion.” After attending fashion school in London, Lola arrived in New York in the early 90s and started her career as an extroverted sales associate, gaining recognition for her unique style and quickly transitioning into creating her first fashion line. Lola traveled the world and spent three years working in Milan. Her work was published in magazines, exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute, and her designs were sold in highly reputable department stores and boutiques worldwide. After five years of this high tempo work, Lola began to feel she needed a change . During a hiatus from work, she learned what was important to her and what damage the fashion industry has done to the environment and to traditional societies. That is what inspired her to create Lola Loves Cargo, a sustainable brand that celebrates tradition, joy, and responsible manufacturing. Lola’s newest Brand, Lola Faturoti Loves, is an ecologically sustainable fashion line that produces bold, brightly-colored jeans, jackets, shirts and scarves while generating zero inventory waste. Their unique designs enable the wearer with a maximal ability to express and convey their inner joy to everyone around them. LFL’s commitment to sustainability and social justice helps customers become stewards of the environment and of marginalized communities where excess fashion waste has taken a devastating toll.
Born in England to artist parents, Bianca Kuttickattu’s childhood inspired a creative practice founded on a reverence for the natural world and the joy of making things by hand. Her career in fashion grew from an early love of thrifting for vintage clothes and second-hand treasures at local markets. The desire to bring this spirit of playful discovery into the design process by thoughtfully repurposing preexisting textiles led her to pursue fashion at Middlesex and complete a master’s degree at the Institut Francais de la Mode in Paris. After graduating, she interned with an NGO in Rio de Janeiro to create a collection of sustainable clothing in partnership with women living in favelas, and worked in the Martin Margiela Couture Workshop making limited-edition pieces from recycled materials, including old vinyl records. Since then, Bianca has built an impressive career designing footwear for leading fashion houses including Celine, Acne and Rag & Bone. These formative experiences influenced the global outlook and commitment to zero-waste production that defines her own brand, Namai. After witnessing the amount of waste generated by the commercial fashion industry, Bianca founded Namai with the aim of creating one-of-a-kind pieces from pre-loved materials and embracing the informal beauty of clothing with a past life. The choice to work exclusively with antique Indian textiles was also a deeply personal one: raised primarily by her mother in England and Canada before moving to New York as an adult, Bianca had little connection to her father’s family in Kerala. Designing on her first range for Namai, she felt intuitively drawn towards the colors and fabrics of saris as a way to reclaim a lost part of her own identity. By partnering with local artisans in India, Bianca honors the traditional craftsmanship of her ancestors. Namai is her celebration of heritage, sustainable fashion and timeless design.
Reviving Traditional Textiles of India
Sunday, June 26th at 1:00 pm US Eastern Time
All around the world textile traditions and the cloth and techniques they have created and practiced for millennia are in danger of being lost. It is not just a matter of losing a design option, these textiles are an important part of the culture, carrying history, memory, and meaning. India is the 7th largest country in the world, with one of the oldest and most diverse textile histories on the planet. The speakers in this panel are all Revivalists, working to revive historic Indian textile culture in distinct areas while artisans who remember can still share the information.
Sweta Mukherjee is a textile revivalist and collector who promotes slow and sensible fashion. She works with small clusters of weavers to revive and recreate weaves that are in danger of dying out. In Sweta’s words: “I am an independent researcher and revivalist. I work with weavers as well as artisans from the Indian sub-continent. Presently, I am working with muslins, where we are trying to recreate old kinds of the fabric and blend the yarns with Pashmina/lena (animal fibre) on traditional pit looms. Muslin of undivided Bengal had been compared with gold in history. It is the cloth that brought traders from the west to Bengal. Though we cannot produce the same quality of muslin of the bygone era, we are trying to get closer to the texture and fineness of the desi yarns.”
Bappaditya Biswas is one of India’s foremost textile experts and has been creating masterful weaves for more than a decade, weaves that redefine Bengal handloom weaving and give the textiles a new look and feel. He created the brand bai lou as well as the iconic store Byloom in Kolkata. Bappaditya has travelled the world to study the traditions of weaving and dyeing and one of his weaves has won the UNESCO Seal of Excellence. For Bappa, the slow disappearance of hand painted textiles – or Chintz – was a gauntlet thrown down. He used lockdown “slow time” to teach himself traditional techniques of hand painted textiles.
Gayathri Shaashi of Yatri Weaves is an independent textile researcher with a full time job in a corporate office in Chennai, India. She is currently working with two weaving families and two karigars who help her with recreating forgotten textiles of Tamil Nadu.
Panel Moderator: Shila Desai is founder and owner of Canadian-based E.Y.H.O. Tours which specializes in textile travels to the world’s traditional societies, in particular to her ancestral Gujarat-Kutch in India. Through her tours, Shila connects creators from traditional societies to appreciators from the industrialized world. Textile sales in Canada, support of local non-profits, and visits and workshops with local artisans are ways in which E.Y.H.O. helps to sustain the world’s marginalized artisanal societies.
National Weavers Movement of Guatemala
Ruchajixik Ri Qana’Ojbäl
Sunday, June 26th at 2:00 pm US Eastern Time
In just a few years, the National Maya Weavers Movement has risen to national and international prominence. Thanks to the movement, for the first time in centuries, we have the opportunity to hear the voices of Maya women who live traditional lives in their villages as they formally commit to protect and defend their textiles and their way of life. The movement was born of the grassroots, of women practicing the ancient art of backstrap loom weaving that has enabled them to sustain their Maya identity in a society that marginalizes, impoverishes, and discriminates against them. The movement is a joint effort of thousands of traditional weavers and a Maya women intelligentsia (artists, poets, lawyers, anthropologists, etc.) that has come into being in the last few decades. For this panel discussion, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from four women who are involved in the movement.
Angelina Aspuac Con is Maya Kaqchikel from the town of Santiago Sacatepéquez. She’s a member of AFEDES (Women’s Association for Development of Sacatepéquez) and the coordinator and one of the leading voices in the National Weavers’ Movement. In the past she worked in SEPREM, the Presidential Office for women, and was an advisor to the Vice President of Guatemala on the rights of indigenous communities. She also represented women’s organizations at development agencies in her community, and in regional and national offices. Angelina defines her mission as the defense of the territories and the self-determination of her people. At this time, she is working with the weavers to defend and promote respect for Maya clothing, Maya textiles and the intellectual collective property of indigenous people.
Maria Elena Curruchiche is Maya Kaqchikel from the town of San Juan Comalapa. Maria Elena is a well-known artist who started painting pictures of women’s lives early on and has exhibited her work all over the world. She promotes artistic and cultural activities in her town. Maria Elena is also a weaver and a member of both the Association of Kaqchikel women and the Weavers’ Council of San Juan Comalapa. She is a member of the National Weavers’ Movement and facilitator of the weaving school in her town. She’s on the board of Ruk’u’x, the organization of Maya artists.
Marina Rodriguez is Maya Kaqchikel from the town of Tecpan. Marina is one of the founding members of the Weavers Association of Tecpan and a member of the National Weavers’ Movement of Guatemala. She is the President of the organization My Town, My Weavings, whose goal is to promote the economic empowerment of women through exhibit and sales of their textiles. She is also a member of the Council of Cultural Policies of Tecpan.
Gloria Estela García is Maya Kaqchikel from the town of Santo Domingo Xenacoj. Gloria Estela has been a weaving teacher since 2009. She is a member of the National Weavers’ Movement and Vice-president of the Weaving Council of Santo Domingo Xenacoj. She has taught and participated in workshops on human rights and the rights of indigenous people, economic solidarity, natural medicine and agricultural topics.
Panel Moderator: Brenda Rosenbaum is a Guatemalan anthropologist who has written extensively on Maya women and culture. As a child, she became fascinated with the beautiful textiles created by Maya weavers and this passion has stayed with her until now. She and her husband founded Mayan Hands in 1990 with the goal of linking Maya weavers to a fair trade, global market that would provide them with a better income than what they get selling their weavings in the markets in Guatemala. Brenda recently wrote a blog article for WARP about the National Weavers’ Movement.