Author Mary Anne Wise recently sent me some pictures that did my heart good. She and fellow author Cheryl Conway led a rug-hooking tour in Guatemala last month. On these tours, they partner members of Multicolores, the rug-hooking nonprofit they founded, with North American rug-hooking students. The Guatemalan artists share their techniques and processes with their North American buddies, and in the days of rug hooking together, cultivate friendships. It’s an extraordinary exchange of craft and culture.
At the same time as the tour, we were applying the finishing touches to Rug Money, the book Mary Anne and Cheryl coauthored about the Multicolores project (look for this in September). Leading the tour by day, they graciously reviewed pages and emailed answers to my pesky questions by night. Doing double duty as authors and tour leaders, they were able to share the review pages with the Multicolores artists. Weezie Huntington, a participant on the tour, snapped a few photographs of the artists while they looked at the book on Mary Anne’s laptop.
In these pictures, you will see the easy laughter, the shared joy, which is remarkable and beautiful when you understand the inordinate challenges and the weight of everyday life for Maya women in Guatemala.
You will also see the loving support of artists’ arms around each other as they take turns looking at the pages. This reminded me of when Glendy, one of the Multicolores artists said, “By helping and respecting each other, we can all move forward together. No one is more important than another.”
But most striking for me in these photos is the glimpse of how the artists see themselves (which goes back to doing my heart good). As Linda and I work on any given book, I am always grateful to play a part in connecting readers to artisans’ lives and work. I know that awareness of traditional textiles can lead to future sales for the artisan groups producing them and to other kinds of support for them and their families. Thrums Books itself offers monetary support to the artisan groups featured in our books (Linda wrote a nice blog post about this a few years ago). But in looking at the Maya women’s faces in Weezie’s photos, perhaps what I see is something greater than these practicalities. Perhaps I see a moment of the artist understanding the tremendous value of her own life.
I can hardly wait for you to meet them all.