Rug Money: How a Group of Maya Women Changed Their Lives through Art and Innovation

Rug MoneyBy Mary Anne Wise & Cheryl Conway-Daly
Photography by Joe Coca
Paperback | 160 Pages
ISBN: 9780999051788

Silver winner of the Independent Book Publishers Association Ben Franklin award.

At the heart of Rug Money is the work of artist Mary Anne Wise and her committed team at Multicolores, the nonprofit rug-hooking cooperative they formed in Guatemala. Their story is a guide for how to start a nonprofit business while working hand in hand with traditional artisans in developing nations. Through a moving narrative, the authors describe how they built a business framework from within the local culture and created successful teaching strategies that encouraged both artistic advancement as well as personal growth—all while establishing and maintaining their enterprise as a force in the global marketplace. Poignant individual profiles of several of the Maya artists and what participation in the project has meant to them bring the story from economics to heart. Joe Coca’s award-winning photography captures the spirit of the Maya women, their art, and their commitment to one another.

Rug MoneyMary Anne Wise is a nationally recognized weaver, rug hooker, design teacher, and curator. She currently serves as Vice President. She is also President and cofounder of Cultural Cloth, a socially responsible business that sells and promotes the work of women textile artisans from around the world.

Rug MoneyCheryl Conway-Daly spent nearly twenty years as an academic researcher at universities in Northern Ireland and England, focusing on economic development and gender and equality when she joined the rug-hooking project in 2013. She helped found Multicolores where she currently serves as Director of Development.

Joe CocaJoe Coca has maintained a studio in Fort Collins, Colorado, for the past 35 years, but his work has taken him to cities and rural areas of five continents. He has photographed people from all walks of life, handcrafted textiles, and other artisan goods. His photography has been featured in over fifty books, earning multiple awards.


This landmark publication is a remarkable testimonial to the power of art to transform lives. The most compelling and unique impact of this project is illuminated through the women’s personal narratives, which describe the changes in their self-perception as they became successful artists. The authors pay tribute to their courage, determination, and creativity on every page and offer sensitive insights throughout this inspiring account of how dedicated teachers and students worked side by side to help artists live better lives.
Roxane Shaughnessy, Senior Curator, Textile Museum of Canada

Like a lovingly assembled “coat of many colors,” Rug Money tells many stories: the organizational history of a nonprofit group which faithfully hold the interests of its members close to the heart; the adventure of turning ancient cultural assets into vivid new art; the biographies of women whose discovery of their own artistry is incredibly inspiring; and throughout, a narrative of positive social change built for and by artisans, their families, and communities. You might start to read this book out of a passion for textiles in general, or rugs in specific, but you’ll finish it because it says so much about how to do some good in this world.
Keith Recker, founder Hand/Eye magazine; Creative Director, International Folk Art Market

Wise and Conway take us deep into the mountains of Guatemala for a vivid view of how the world’s most neglected areas can beat back poverty. Rug Money is a template, a literal “how to” for social and economic change. And the leading indicator is the education and employment of women. Giving women agency, as Rug Money shows, means great promise for impoverished communities across the globe.
Amy Kaslow, award-winning journalist and photographer covering at-risk communities, worldwide

Rug hooking changes lives and this book is a testament to that. For generations in Atlantic Canada and across the Eastern Seaboard, rug hooking has provided women with some financial independence, a creative outlet, and a sense of community. Seeing this spread to Maya women warms my heart. Their colourful rugs reflect their culture and experience and are beautiful works of art. Filled with stunning photographs, this book is about people being good to each other, growing and learning, and that is a beautiful thing.
Deanne Fitzpatrick, internationally acclaimed rug-hooking artist and author

Rug Money provides a stellar example of why entrepreneurial opportunities such as Multicolores, the inspirational Guatemalan social business rooted in hooked-rug making, can transform individual artisans, their families, and entire communities. A departure from common charity models, the Maya women leaders and their mentors demonstrate the power of social enterprise principles—honoring human dignity, increasing human capacity, and engaging the entrepreneurial human spirit—when tackling seemingly intractable social problems with scalable solutions. Read their story and be inspired. Multicolores makes their global IFAM family very proud!
Jeff Snell, Ph.D., CEO, International Folk Art Market


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