We at Thrums Books have admired the hooked rugs from Multicolores—the Cooperative of Maya Women Rug Hookers in Guatemala— from the beginning. We’ve been in awe, frankly, at the excellent work these Maya women have been producing. Simply, the rugs are gorgeous. Colorful, playful, exquisitely rendered. Look a bit closer and you’ll see color combinations that reveal the artistic roots of traditional Guatemalan textiles, rugs that reflect brocade weaving, rugs inspired by the dramatic floral alfombras created in the streets of Guatemala during Easter.
Photographer Joe Coca and I spent several days last week traveling the Guatemalan countryside with Mary Anne Wise, vice president of Multicolores, Cheryl Conway, director of development, and Rosario Girón, marketing and sales coordinator (and phenomenal translator). They were our guides as we visited and photographed Multicolores’s many talented artists.
After we visited about 45 Multicolores artists in each of their five rural communities, I began to see the rugs with a different eye. It’s easy to see the historical and cultural references of color and designs in these rugs, but after spending time with the artists, I also see their individual stories in the rugs—each strip of color a new look at dignity, at opportunity; each new design element an act of confidence, self-acceptance. Through the Maya women’s rug hooking work, I am beginning to learn what it means to be a Maya woman in Guatemala. What it means to be an artist and to have the freedom to explore that for the first time. What it means to shape a future with determination and creativity in surprising ways.
I can’t say more about all of this now or I’ll get in trouble! That’s because Mary Anne and Cheryl are writing a book about the Multicolores project, which Thrums Books will publish next year. I can’t wait. I bet you can’t either.