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 Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC)—an organization long supported by ATA.
It was on that same trip to Peru that Cindy saw first-hand ATA’s mission in action, and she wanted to help. “I volunteered to be recruited,” she says.
And we’re glad she did. Cindy brings thirty-five years of experience as a graphic designer, marketing director, and creative/art director to our ATA marketing committee. Her talents have guided the look of our website, literature, e-books, signage, newsletters, and more.
Cindy has always been interested in indigenous textiles and has studied Navajo and Mexican textiles, in addition to those of the Andes. Her interest stems from her love for art, particularly the fiber arts.
“I literally can’t remember a time that I haven’t been playing with string,” she says. Her mother taught her, at eight-years-old, how to knit and sew, and her grandmother introduced her to crochet and embroidery not long after. When she went to college to study design, she carried her fondness for the fiber arts with her. “I took a weaving class, as an elective, that nearly ended my major,” she remembers. “My advisor told me that if I kept spending all my time in the fiber arts lab and didn’t finish my senior thesis, she wasn’t going to pass me.”
Cindy did finish her thesis and received her degree in design. After college, she worked and raised her family outside of Washington D.C. for fifteen years, and then in Los Angeles for twenty-five more. Three years ago, she left L.A. for the small community of Joshua Tree, California, where she now lives in a house on a half acre in the desert with her dog Bogart. She continues to run her graphic design business, CindyNW Creative, while pursuing her own art. Her home studio, her haven, is crammed full of everything she loves—including lots of fiber!
In her art, Cindy likes to work with the natural materials around her, such as the dead branches of the cholla cactus and stones that she often finds on her walks in the desert. Her textile sculpture series “The Birth of Mountains,” recently featured at the 29 Palms Art Gallery, incorporated both of those materials, as well as raw silk dyed with avocados.
Her current long-term project is creating a fiber arts center in the high desert, where she envisions a place for teaching, studio rental, residencies, retreats, and conferences in the beautiful wild lands adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park.
It’s that same type of passion and creativity that Cindy brings to ATA, something she is happy to offer to a group with values consistent with hers. “ATA is such a nurturing organization to the people we support in Peru, and also Bolivia,” she explains. “Nobody at ATA is trying to dictate how things should be done . . . we offer support, make suggestions, and raise money to help out.” But, like other ATA volunteers, Cindy knows it’s the Andean people that make the decisions, and their efforts that make the difference in their own traditional textiles revitalization. And that, Cindy believes, is the way it should be.
Deb Carpenter-Beck is a writer, career marketer, and lover of the stories and history surrounding the world’s textile arts. Her articles have appeared in Handwoven, Spin-Off, Family Circle Easy Knitting, Vogue Patterns, and other regional and national publications. She currently is a member of the ATA marketing committee.