Cultural Appropriation vs Appreciation

Stefanie BerganiniIndigenous Connections

Cultural appropriation has been a particularly contentious topic in recent years, and a debate that tends to be very polarizing. Some see it as a much needed call to higher standards of representation and transparency, others as needless identity politics. As I talked about in my last blog post, culture is dynamic, and constantly evolving, changing, and mixing. Particular foods, or styles of clothing, or visual motifs (among many many other things) make their way around the world, resulting in new or hybrid cultural expressions. So where is the line between appreciating and appropriating? I won’t claim to have a 100% foolproof way to judge whether or not something is cultural appropriation. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term as “the … Read More

Andean Textile Talks Bring the Andes to You

Andean Textile ArtsATA Programs

We can’t always visit the Andes, especially now with COVID restrictions limiting international travel. But that doesn’t mean we can’t experience the people, traditions, and textiles of the Andes virtually. And that’s exactly what our new Andean Textile Talks series offers you—a chance to immerse yourself in the history, beauty, and techniques of one of the world’s oldest textile cultures, all from the comfort of your home. Many of you joined us on February 9 for our first Andean Textile Talk, featuring award-winning video maker Kathy Brew and her film Following the Thread. In fact, you could say, we had a virtual packed house. Her beautifully crafted film took us to several villages in the Peruvian highlands to learn about … Read More

Volunteer Profile: Cindy Weinstein

Deb Carpenter-BeckMeet Our Volunteers

Cindy Weinstein’s first connection with Andean textiles was in her mid-twenties, when she was apprenticing with a tapestry weaver at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. “Everyone was going to The Textile Museum in Washington D.C. to see a weaving demo by a Peruvian woman,” she recalls. “When we got there, we saw this young woman sitting next to a big tree in the museum’s courtyard demonstrating backstrap weaving. As soon as her hands started to weave, I was so moved that I just wept.” Decades later, Cindy met that weaver again on an ATA Textile Tour to Peru. The young woman from The Textile Museum’s courtyard, she found out, was Nilda Callañaupa, founder and director of the … Read More

Nothing Like a Good Book About the Andes

Sandi CardilloATA Programs

The Andean Textile Arts (ATA) community includes weavers, dyers, and fiber enthusiasts. It also includes travelers. We share adventures in person. We trek to ancient ruins and high mountain villages. We share armchair adventures, our stories, and our pictures. We are students of the world. When we on the ATA board pondered how to continue to reach out to our Andean Textile community in this time of restricted physical travel, I quietly suggested . . . ”let’s do a book club.” And so, it began. I reached out to a few of my fellow book lovers on the board; a list was created from our shared book list developed over the years. Gratefully, a few hearty folks raised their hands … Read More

An Unbroken Thread: Accha Alta Young Weavers Carry On Valued Traditions

Deb Carpenter-BeckBehind the Scenes

In 2020, ATA and the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) completed interviews with several young weavers from communities throughout the Peruvian highlands. This is the first in a series of blog posts based on those interviews. I hope you enjoy meeting these remarkable young women as much as I have enjoyed summarizing their stories. Lourdes Sullca Gutieerez and Nery Condori Layme are young weavers from Accha Alta, a Peruvian village high in the Andes Mountains. Nestled on a steep mountain slope close to the ruins of an ancient Incan granary, the village is the home of the Munay Pallay Awaqkuna weavers, an association in which Lourdes and Nery are members.  Like many young people in Peru’s highland villages, … Read More

Center for Traditional Textiles Launches New Online Store

Andean Textile ArtsUncategorized

This fall, the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) opened an online store, bringing the weaving of Peru’s Sacred Valley direct to the world! For the first time, shoppers anywhere can browse CTTC products—from bags and backpacks to clothing, household textiles, toys, and jewelry—and order online. The new store is a significant step for the communities of CTTC and a great (if too tempting) opportunity for everyone who loves Andean textiles. Until now, the CTTC website displayed photos of some types of products and invited visitors to contact the center to arrange for purchase. Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, CTTC director, knew that the website needed a full e-commerce capability, but a busy schedule of teaching, travel, and organizational development had … Read More

What’s Up in the Andes?

Andean Textile ArtsUncategorized

While the coronavirus has prevented us from hosting our tours to Peru and Bolivia this year, we’ve been keeping up on developments in the Sacred Valley with reports from Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, director and founder of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC) and from our tour leader, Raul Callañaupa.  The pandemic has brought great hardship to the weaving communities, as it has everywhere. According to Nilda, the biggest problem has been a lack of food. Some households have doubled or tripled in size, as family members laid off from jobs in the cities and college students returned home to their villages. The families were not prepared with enough food for everyone, and without tourism and the income it … Read More

Week of the Women Who Spin with Drop Spindles

Dorinda DutcherUncategorized

Every October, childhood memories are rekindled in the Bolivian Andes during Spinning Week, a competition honoring a life-long skill. The spinners are the last generations of women born into the farmer subsistence lifestyle when the education of females was considered unnecessary. Doña Maxima Cortez remembers her youth in her rural community of Huancarani as idyllic. She knew where to herd the family flock to encounter her girlfriends, and they whiled away early adolescence shepherding, spinning, talking, and laughing.  In 2014, Doña Maxima was asked to query the weavers in Huancarani about participating in the international Spinzilla Spinning Week Competition. The response was enthusiastically affirmative. Spinzilla was organized by a group of volunteers under The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) umbrella to … Read More

Funding a Seed Bank

Marilyn MurphyUncategorized

In August, Andean Textile Arts received an unusual grant request from the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC)—to assist in funding a seed bank, a cooperative project between the ten CTTC weaving communities. While this request was not directly related to textiles, helping to ensure food security for the weavers was deemed well within our mission and we approved this funding.   At the very beginning of COVID, family members from the Highland villages who worked in Lima and others cities returned to their communities, thereby creating a lack of food. For example, a family of two increased to seven with the addition of a son, his wife, and three children. There soon wasn’t enough potatoes and no income to … Read More

2020: A Tale of Two Communities

Andean Textile ArtsBehind the Scenes

To paraphase Charles Dickens, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of people.” This year has brought challenges that never figured into most of our worst-case scenarios.  Pandemic, lock-downs, and, for some, loss of contact, financial security, or loved ones. Yet, through it all, the ATA community has remained steadfast in its commitment to support Andean weavers in preserving their textile traditions and their sustainable way of life. And the Andean communities, in turn, have been brave and creative in helping themselves to weather this storm. Last spring, as the coronavirus took hold worldwide, tourism shut down and Peruvians were told to isolate at home. The quarantine cut off income for the weavers and sales that support the … Read More