Indigenous People Face Higher Risks With COVID-19

Stefanie BerganiniIndigenous Connections

Around the world, indigenous people are bearing a heavy burden from COVID-19. For many native peoples, coronavirus is a double-whammy: it exacerbates existing inequalities at the same time that it introduces new challenges. Indigenous groups often experience what social scientists call structural vulnerability: a situation in which systemic issues like racism, sexism, or poverty (among others) combine to predispose people to a higher risk of harm. When it comes to medical issues, structural vulnerability manifests in health disparities, or instances in which one group of people carries a higher burden of illness, injury, or death than other groups. On a global scale, for example, indigenous people have life expectancies up to twenty years lower than average, and suffer from disproportionately … Read More

Timoteo Ccarita Sacaca—Master Weaver

Ercil Howard-WrothUncategorized

As I watched Timoteo, a master weaver after more than forty-five years, work with the weavers in his Peruvian community, I realized I was also watching a master teacher. Small groups of young weavers led by more experienced weavers were learning a discontinuous warp technique (also called scaffold weaving or ‘tillca’). Timoteo observed the groups and from time to time would tell a teacher to add something to the instruction or correct how the technique was being taught. Through this type of layered learning (wherein students learn technique, and at another layer teachers learn to teach and improve their own weaving), Timoteo and the other older accomplished weavers were passing on the precious weaving techniques of their ancestors to future … Read More

Board Member Profile: Reflections on a Life Touched By Textiles

Jannes GibsonMeet Our Board

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