Board Member Profile: Reflections on a Life Touched By Textiles

Jannes GibsonUncategorized

Memories flood back: Trying to get the rhythm of my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine when she taught me how to sew at age 10 . . . at 16 learning to knit from the neighbor who made me the classic blue and white sweater with skaters on it that I still have—a 1940s pattern.  (Interesting that both of my daughters love textiles but are makers and creators in different forms.) My interest in textiles has been a life-long journey. My mother, who got her masters in painting at the University of Iowa in the 1930s, often drove us to the countryside, pointing out colors, textures, and landscapes—encouraging us to try new things and new colors together. Travel has enhanced my ability … Read More

A Day in Pisaq: Falling in Love with a Land and Its People

Sandi CardilloTravel Tours

From the moment our plane banked over the Andes in the final turn for the landing in Cusco, I was awestruck. I leaned over my husband Richard’s shoulder, as we both looked out the window and simply said, “Wow.” We live in Colorado, so mountains are not new to us. The Andes, however, are truly special. You can see it. You can feel it. This is a majestic and sacred place. The Andean Textile Arts tour has been on my life-list for a long while. While I am struggling neophyte weaver, I am a lover of all things fiber. I love the color of hand-dyed yarns. I love putting my hands in a big bag of wool. I love creating … Read More

2020 Textile Tour of Bolivia: POSTPONED

Pam ArtTravel Tours

After much discussion among the ATA board of directors and consultation with Kevin Healy, ATA advisory board member and Bolivia expert, we’ve made the decision to postpone this year’s Bolivia tour until the fall of 2021. We’ve been monitoring the evolving Bolivian political situation over recent months. After the general election last November, the results were challenged, an interim government was put in place, and a new election was announced for early May. Now, less than two months from that vote, the latest dynamics in Bolivia point to a post-election period that could be a troublesome time with potential unrest and protests. At the very least, we won’t know until May which way the election will go nor what the … Read More

Andean Natural Dyes: Practical, Deep, and Empowering

Ercil Howard-WrothUncategorized

As I sit in the Andes at 12,000 feet, the sun is clear and piercing while weavers work. In clear vision, Andean woven color steps forward in a strong and forceful manner. Pattern, line, design, and form are defined by the color the weaver has selected. The hues are rich and pervasive, causing one to marvel at their power and wonder at their origins. Rescuing A Threatened Art Today in 2020 we might not realize how the incredible art of producing true Andean color—natural dyeing—was almost lost. Synthetic aniline dyes (created from coal tar extracts) were enormously popular and ensconced in western fashion within fifty years of their discovery by William Perkins in 1856. By the end of the 1900s, … Read More

Volunteer Profile: Karen Sprenger

Marilyn MurphyMeet Our Volunteers

Textile tours of all kinds can make a weaver out of you. It certainly did for Andean Textile Arts (ATA) volunteer, Karen Sprenger. In the mid-80s, Karen dabbled with weaving rag rugs on an old two-harness floor loom (this type of loom is still widely used in many indigenous communities). However, a floor loom is anything but portable. So while traveling on a few textile-related tours to Central and South America, she became intrigued with the backstrap loom. The simplicity of the loom was certainly similar to her floor loom, but it’s portability was a draw and one came home with her. Not many U.S. weavers in her area of Kansas City were studying backstrap weaving in the years following … Read More

How Climate Change Impacts Textile Heritage

Stefanie BerganiniIndigenous Connections

Last month I spent a week in Madrid at COP25, the twenty-fifth conference of the parties who signed on to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The convention’s founding agreement, written in 1992, pledges to limit human-generated greenhouse gas emissions to a level below that which would interfere with the global climate system. Two major follow-up documents (1997’s Kyoto Protocol and 2016’s Paris Agreement) and the annual COP meetings attempt to lay out a plan for participating countries to meet that global emissions goal. As anyone who follows the news will know, we are far from meeting emissions targets, and, at least in the United States, the subject of whether or not to even participate in this … Read More

Introducing Maria José Murillo, CTTC’s New Education Supervisor

Maria Jose MurilloUncategorized

Two years ago, I left my country, Peru, to do a MFA in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The experience of living abroad for the first time was completely revealing for me and brought up multiple questions around my cultural identity. While at the Fiber Department, my art practice was deeply influenced by textile processes, and by weaving in particular, which led me to connect with my indigenous heritage, ironically, outside my country.  The art and cultural legacy that we Peruvians have inherited from our ancestors, especially related to weaving, has been completely erased from our artistic educational system. That is how I ended up studying painting at college, without knowing not … Read More

In Memoriam: David VanBuskirk

Nilda CallañaupaUncategorized

I have not totally absorbed or believed that David VanBuskirk is gone, but sadly I have to accept the truth. I am so happy that I got to see him and his wife Libby during our visit last year to their home in Melbourne, Vermont. Since I met them in Cusco in 1984, they have been part of our family. David and Libby were very important supporters in providing for the continuation of traditional textile practices by the weavers in Chinchero. In those years, I was just starting to work with the weavers older than me. David and Libby generously provided the first budget for the development of the project to work with the weavers, through the U.S. nonprofit Cultural … Read More

Bolivia: A Textile Adventure Steeped in Tradition

Jannes GibsonTravel Tours

Bolivia has a rich Andean textile tradition, borne of its history as the center of the ancient Tiwanaku empire and later as part of the Inca empire from the 15th to early 16th centuries. The idea of an ATA tour to Bolivia came about during the last Tinkuy in Peru, in conversations with Andean Textile Arts (ATA) board member Betty Doerr and Kevin Healy. Early in his life, Kevin was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Lake Titicaca region along the border between Bolivia and Peru, and then he worked for years as a grant officer for the Inter American Foundation (IAF). Who better to introduce our ATA community to Bolivia? This August, 15 intrepid tour participants joined our favorite … Read More

Young Weavers Spend a Day Celebrating Their Cultural Heritage

Marilyn MurphyUncategorized

Imagine an entire day where you could spin, weave, dance, sing, and play—all devoted to sharing your traditions and bonding with other communities. That’s exactly what 225 young weavers from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) did this past August. Last year, a few young leaders from each of CTTC’s ten weaving communities came together to plan their first official cultural gathering. The young weavers enthusiastically wanted this event and were ready to lead the charge. So why not? With the assistance of CTTC’s education department and funding from an Andean Textile Arts (ATA) grant, they made it happen. Their day started early as most traveled hours to the town of Pisac, the designated location for the event. … Read More