Teach me the language of color, and I will tell you my story. Together, we will tell the world.
Rug Money author Mary Anne Wise has been traveling the textile byways in India the last couple of weeks. I’ve loved receiving the occasional missive from her where she reveals a funny moment or details an extraordinary textile she’s just discovered. She’s also written about meeting members of women’s handicraft groups reminiscent of Multicolores, the rug-hooking cooperative she started in Guatemala with Cheryl Conway-Daly.
Her correspondence has brought back memories of traveling with her and co-author Cheryl Conway in Guatemala when I met the rug-hooking artists for the first time, and we photographed those who were featured in Rug Money. Immediately, I was struck by the beautiful relationships she had formed with the Maya women. Clearly, they loved her, like a mother, like a friend. And it was easy to see why.
She treats them with the dignity of a fellow artist. She holds them to high aesthetic standards, asks tough questions about their work, and gives honest critiques. “What does this rug tell me about you?” she asks. Often there was no immediate answer, but that wasn’t really the point. She wanted them to think deeply about their work, how it related to their lives, how their art could relate to the rest of the world.
She told the Chirijquiac rug-hooking group that “the growth of an artist is like walking up a mountain.” They nodded in assent, but before they could focus on the challenges, she shifted the conversation to experimenting with design, with color. She knows that innovation leads to a new imagery that can re-create the world.
And the Maya women’s world has been re-created. By acknowledging that “color is in their blood,” Mary Anne has worked tirelessly to present them with a language to talk about that color. She has affirmed that color is their heritage, their heart; that color is their strength, their soul. Mary Anne has encouraged them to develop their own artistry, which has developed a beauty and a confidence in their world–as mothers, wives, friends, as proud Maya women, as artists.
Discover the language of color in Mary Anne Wise and Cheryl Conway-Daly’s moving story of how a group of Maya women changed their lives through art and innovation.