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

Scaffold Weaving: A New Life for a Remarkable Ancient Art

Jennifer MooreUncategorized

Scaffold weaving, also known as discontinuous warp, or ticlla in the Quechua language, is a remarkably complex and time-consuming ancient weaving technique. It originated in the Andean region of South America—the only place in the world where it existed—during the Middle Horizon and Late Horizon periods (AD 400-1535). We are fortunate that a number of examples of pre-Columbian scaffold weaving can still be seen in museum collections today. This technique has now been revitalized and is being practiced in Pitumarca, Peru, one of the ten weaving communities that comprise the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC). In most weaving techniques, the warp threads are continuous lengths from the top end of the backstrap loom to the bottom. In scaffold … Read More

ATA Website is New and Improved!

Andean Textile ArtsUncategorized

Welcome to the shiny, new ATA website! Our new layout is designed to make it easier to learn about ATA-sponsored programs and to see our latest blog posts, tours, news, and events, plus lots of new photos for your enjoyment. To the right of the navigation buttons, you’ll also find translation buttons – the tiny flags – so you can view content in English or Spanish.  (Yes, that is a Mexican flag. Sadly, the translation software doesn’t currently offer the flags of any Andean nations for the button.) The other good news is that the underlying web platform is now WordPress. This means even more of your donations can go into supporting Andean textile communities rather than into operating costs. The cost of our donor management software … Read More

Update: Giving Tuesday Campaigns for Young Weavers Groups

Anita OsterhaugUncategorized

ATA is always looking for ways to grow our support for Andean textile communities. Over the years, we have been successful at raising funds through textile tours and direct donations. But with plans to expand our programs from Peru to Bolivia and Ecuador, we need to grow donations. Online “crowdfunding” sites and social media offer nonprofits a powerful new tool in the quest to expand their fundraising and their impact. Many nonprofits begin their end-of-year fundraising on Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping promotions). So, in November 2018, we launched a Giving Tuesday campaign to raise money for the Young Weavers Groups program and to learn more about online fundraising. We … Read More