Publisher Linda Ligon and I have been on an action-packed book event journey in Minnesota and Wisconsin this week celebrating our new book Rug Money, its authors, and one of its talented young artists.
Wednesday night we spent a delightful evening in the home of a Judith McGrann learning more about Rug Money and the hooked rugs and rug-hooking artists who are featured in the book.
Thursday afternoon the Textile Center in Minneapolis invited Thrums Books as guest speakers for its monthly Art Speaks presentation. Linda spoke about the challenges facing traditional textile artisans and the significance of publishing books about them and their work. Deborah Chandler author of Traditional Weavers of Guatemala talked about writing about her textile passions and shared some behind-the-scenes stories from her book. Mary Anne Wise and Cheryl Conway-Daly, authors of Rug Money, talked about founding the rug-hooking nonprofit in Guatemala and the Maya women whose lives have been transformed by participation in the rug-hooking project. One of the rug hookers who is featured in the book, Rosmery Pacheco, traveled from Guatemala to be on hand to answer questions and explain a bit about her experiences with this innovative cooperative, Multicolores.
In case you weren’t able to join us this weekend for Rosmery’s moving account, we’re sharing Mary Anne Wise’s interview with her just after the 2018 International Folk Art Market (IFAM) where Rosmery served as the artist representative for Multicolores.
Here’s Mary Anne:
“I will travel one day ad rug hooking will help me achieve my goals.”–Rosmery Pacheco
“Rosmery’s declarative statement was spoken in 2015 after her second attempt to acquire a US visa was denied. She had been chosen to represent her rug hooking compeneras (friends) at the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico a trip she anticipated with excitement. However, at the conclusion of the visa interview, instead of a visa she was handed another disappointment.
“My disappointments have made me stronger,” said Rosmery, referring to her belief that she must learn from her setbacks, look ahead and always move forward. In 2018, her motivation and positive attitude earned her a second chance to represent her compeneras at the IFAM because through a rigorous jury process Multicolores had been accepted to the Market, again.
Leaving her rural home, she traveled to the bustling capital arriving at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City well in advance of her visa appointment. During a brief interview she was denied, again, with no explanation. But participating in the IFAM as an equal amidst her 160 global peers was a goal she was determined to achieve. Despite her intense disappointment at being rejected —for the third time— she was motivated to apply once more.
The fourth time was the charm. She was awarded a visa.
“When I heard them say, “yes, you will be granted a visa” I was so happy! I was also nervous—so many new experiences, like flying on an airplane—how was I going to do that—but I was so excited! Nervous, happy, all at the same time! When I told my mother she cried, she was so happy for me. There wasn’t much time to worry about the plane because I was leaving for the US the day after I received my visa. It all happened very quickly. Then the time came to get on the airplane and I thought, “Should I be nervous?” And yes, I was nervous entering the plane but nothing happened. I could relax and enjoy the time.
We came to the city of Santa Fe, it was night. The hotel was very pretty and the people (IFAM volunteers who met the plane) were friendly, they had snacks for us.The next morning there was a schedule of workshops about how to succeed at the market. Things like how to prepare your booth to sell your products, how to make your display look interesting.The workshop leaders demonstrated how to be friendly, not shy, and to greet the customers.
Before the market opened there was a big parade and I was so surprised to see all the artists, so many people from so many different countries. Everyone watching the parade was welcoming; there were no bad words. That surprised me and made me feel very good. During the parade, just as the artists from Guatemala were announced to the people watching, it began to rain a little. The people watching said to us, “Thank you, Guatemala, for bringing the rain!” They said that because there has been a drought in New Mexico, it had not rained for a long time.
We worked hard during the market, all day long, but really, the work was not harder then what I do at home. It is important to work hard so Multicolores can achieve our goals. And the people who came to the market! They really loved our work; they were curious and wanted to know what the designs meant. That surprised me, to see their interest. And so many people came.
The volunteers! They came around to our booth with water and food—but you could see they cared about us. They were concerned that we were OK. Their concern impressed me. And I met that man—he won the same prize as Rigoberta Menchu—but when I met him I didn’t know who he was (Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner). I just felt he was a friendly, kind man. Now that I know who he is, I am grateful for the meeting.
My goal was to have the experience of participating in this Market. I can go home and talk to my campaneras about what I saw. What impressed me was the quality of the work at the market. When I return to Guatemala I want to have another intercambio (a meeting where all 50 rug hookers come together). I want to work with the three artists who represented Multicolores at the IFAM before me. I want to ask for their help and make a program so we can impress upon others how we need to improve our quality, to always think of ways to improve. It is important for our future success. We must always strive forward. I can see that now. Now that I have seen for myself the quality of work here in Santa Fe, I know we have work to do. I will use my training in the Leadership program to communicate what we need to do. I will present the information in a way my companeras can hear what I have to say and not feel angry. I want to motivate them to improve. And we can move forward together.”
Read more about Rosmery and her companeras in Rug Money.