I saw the most amazing collection of folk art entitled "Empowering Woman", Artisan Cooperatives that Transform Communities. Each has a different motivation: preserving a dying heritage, sustaining the environment, providing a safe haven from violence. But like we in the pagan art community, art binds them together.
I took photos of only a few of the exhibits but each is so powerful and the motivation for the cooperatives so compeling. South Africa, Manula Embroidery project which benefits peoples within South Africa suffering from Aids.
India, skilled home based embroidery and textile artisans have formed a Self Employed Womans Assoc which allows these woman to raise their own children and not leave them to others to raise and go to find work away from home.
Fighting for the life of the garabata fino plant, the Ayorea woman of Boliva weave fiber bags to sell to international markets. They have now developed new ways to cultivate similar plants and so save the original garabata plant for further generations of weavers.
Woven buttons are a beginning source of money for a fledgling project in Morocco. Without capital these women realized they would have not say in their lives or the lives of their daughters and so began the Golden Buttons Coop of Sefrou.
The beginning of the Umaja Uaso Womans Group in Kenya was not about art. It was about survival. These beginning 16 women were refugees and victims of violent crimes. The women of Umaja which means unity, sell their tribal beaded jewelry to provide income for the survival of all the women in this unique village.
The last story is the most touching and is from Rwanda. One woman Ephigenia lost 65 members of her family in 1994. Rwandan Hutus murdered some one million Tutsis. In order to survive Ephigenia worked side by side with her family's killers wife in south Province. All of these woman were left homeless, husband and childless from the violence. They banded together, shared their talents, and used it as the balm that restored their shattered lives. "Art heals the hopeless soul", says Ephigenia.
May it be so for all of us. Blessings on the New Moon.