A large scale exhibition of my work is scheduled for Sept 2010 at MACLA, Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latinoamericana, in San Jose during the Zero1 Biennial. MACLA has allowed me to use the exhibition to showcase (and kickstart) collaborative works with artisans—and for the first time in my art career, allow me to become a catalyst for social change through the creation of craft.
The Chiapas Project, shown below, will serve as Phase 1 of a longer-planned relationship with artisans worldwide, helping to provide dignified wages and setting up new modes of sustaining traditions—the creation of Artists Helping Artisans (AHA!).

For more information on the Chiapas Project and the creation of AHA! please see bottom "Project Info" section.

Tanya Aguiñiga

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Weaving classes with Rosa 1

Backstrap weaving is an art form that is passed down from mother to daughter. All girls learn from their mothers at different ages, when it is decided that they are ready. We were very lucky and honored to have had Rosa agree to teach us how to weave. Not all girls stick with it, but it is something that is sought after by men when looking for a wife, Rosa explained. Most indigenous towns have their own stile of weaving and Zinacantan is best known for its use of floral embroidery over monotone woven garments. Their pieces are definitely the most stylized of any town. The traditional outfit is worn by a large majority of girls daily. It is rare for us to see a woman in western attire. The town colors (everyone wears the same colors) change year to year as new styles are created by fashionable Zinacantan ladies.

Our first class with Rosa was all about making a warp and setting up the loom. Pretty basic equipment is used so its easy for people to create a loom themselves out of twigs and simple materials.
Here we are looping the warp, setting up our looms doing our tie-ups and weaving our first rows of plain weave.

Because Meagan and I already knew how to weave on a multiple harness floor loom, the basic concepts were easy for us to grasp. We were able to get going with some plain weave and simple graphic inlays in two days. Rosa said that it took her 4 months to learn that much and Lucia has not yet been taught inlays—so we felt pretty special that she was comfortable enough with us to teach us advanced techniques, and were happy that she could brag to friends about how quickly she was able to teach us the basics! Although I was a little slower to learn that Meaghan, who is a Textile Major at RISD and a fabulous weaver!

More to come on the processes of backstrap weaving and our progress…

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