Issue #006, Autumn, 2020 ISSN: 2581- 9410
This article describes an income-earning initiative for rural Maya artisans that my 3 colleagues and I established in Guatemala in 2009. We introduced a non-traditional craft, called rug hooking, and we created a design curriculum where literacy and numeracy were not a prerequisite for participation. About a year after introducing the craft, sensing the economic potential of hooked rugs to transform their livelihoods, we trained 9 of the rug makers as design teachers who in turn, trained more women. Within five years nearly 60 women were hooking rugs.
My colleagues and I formed a legal Guatemalan non-profit called Multicolores. Our mission is to expand opportunities for our artisan members. Notably:
- Within 5 years of the first rug making class, in 2014 Multicolores was accepted to the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the world’s most rigorously juried folk art event.
- Within six years of the first rug making class, in 2015 the women were recognized by the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, a global competition sponsored by the Aspen Institute and US State Department to bring attention to the Craft Sector of the global economy, 65% of which is created by women.
- In 2019, ten years after the first rug making class, the International Folk Art Market bestowed one of six Community Impact Awards upon Multicolores in recognition of the economic impact of rug money upon the communities...