The Heart of the Story

Teresa Cordón shares some of her experiences while working on Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives:

Teresa Cordon Traditional Weavers of Guatemala
Teresa Cordon with weaver Susana Lopez. Photo by Joe Coca.

Questions and Answers

When I received the invitation to be part of the project to write a book about Guatemalan artisans, several questions came to my mind. What have I to offer to the project?
Knowledge of the country, language, a deep respect for Maya culture, its people, their art, their capabilities–all of this because of having worked for many years with artisans from different ethnicities the length and breadth of Guatemala,  buying the goods, working together to improve the quality and presentation of them, developing new products, and all that is involved in an operation of production for export. However, this book project was different, it was to contact people, to gain their confidence, to be invited into their homes, their lives, their families, their memories.

Another question: What would be the benefit for the artisans?
Some answers were obvious: make them and their art known, financial compensation, beautiful photographs, etc. But the real answer came from them: Ana Ceto said: “I am happy you came because it gives me a chance to remember things and share those memories . . . ”  Bacilia Tomasa Siquina said, “It makes me happy because it recognizes me as an artist.” Catarina Amperez Siana, as we were leaving her place said, “Thank you for all of this happiness.”

Catarina Siana Tradidtional Weavers of Guatemala
A happy Catarina Amperez Siana surrounded by her family. Photo by Joe Coca.

The Heart of the Story

Teresa Cordon Traditional Weavers of Guatemala
Teresa Cordon in the home of artist Lola Sapalu. Photo by Joe Coca.

As writers, the experience has been fulfilling in so many ways that it is impossible to enumerate or describe them. Deborah Chandler and I have had the privilege of spending time in the homes of these artisans who have enriched us with their confidence, knowledge, stories, techniques, and art.

And for the readers of Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives, what might be the benefits?
I think it depends on the interests of each; however, I can mention a few: visit the homes of twenty Guatemalan artisans, share their lives, their history, their art, their faith, and their pride. Learn about a variety of traditional textiles and their techniques. Travel in a country full of contrast and beauty at the hand of Joe Coca and his incredible photography. Comprehend the interrelationship of historical, political, and natural events that shaped and impacted the lives of artisans and products, and more.

I hope that just as writing this book has been a wonderful experience for us, reading it will be for you.

Teresa Cordón

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