In The Joy of Maya Color, you’ll discover 12 Maya designs to color and make your own. Of course, you could also use them for stitching, embroidery, applique, or any other use your creative mind can conjure. Plus, all proceeds from your purchase of this coloring book will support the Maya women artists of Multicolores.
Multicolores is a non-profit organization that creates economic opportunities for talented and motivated Maya women artists in the highlands of Guatemala. The hooked rugs for which it has become known are handmade by Maya women from five different communities. Using recycled materials, each artist creates her own unique designs drawn from personal experience, cultural traditions, and the beauty of local surroundings. In addition to providing its members with artistic training and the opportunity to improve the quality of their crafts, Multicolores provides support through personal and professional development, leadership training, and local and international cultural exchange.
In 2018, Thrums Books published the story of Multicolores in its award-winning book Rug Money: How a Group of Maya Women Changed Their Lives through Art and Innovation by Mary Anne Wise and Cheryl Conway-Daly. Rug Money details the creation and the triumph of Multicolores, a nonprofit association of Maya artists in Guatemala. Through a compelling 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.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
NICOLASA PACAY BARÁN
Nicolasa, 38, lives with her husband and two children in Patanatic. She began rug hooking in 2013. Nicolasa’s favorite part of rug hooking is combining colors and designing. She also likes to draw having previously taken a course in fine art. With the income from her rugs Nicolasa is saving to remodel a room at home and to buy a stove with an oven. She enjoys having her own income which means she can make independent spending decisions. Nicolasa is part of the Multicolores Leadership Program. On several occasions Nicolasa has used her position on the Patanatic Community Council to speak out against the abuse of power and corruption. Of leadership Nicolasa said, “A person who exercises leadership must always want the best for their group and be motivating and inspiring to others.”
BARTOLA MORALES TOL
Bartola, 31, lives with her husband and daughter in the small community of San Jorge La Laguna on the shore of Lake Atitlán. She learned to hook rugs from Glendy, her cousin’s wife, in 2014, and discovered she had a natural aptitude. She’s especially honored that one of her rugs was included in a 2016 exhibition at the Textile Center in Minneapolis. Bartola finds inspiration for her rugs in things that make her happy, “like birds, flowers, and nature.” She is using her income from the sales of her rugs to improve her family’s home and to create a better life for her daughter. She says, “The past has left many scars, but I keep moving forward to continue growing as an artist, mother, and wife.”
YOLANDA CHURUNEL AJÚ
Yolanda, 26, is the youngest of the talented trio of Churunel rug hooking sisters, who live with their parents in the rural community of Chuacruz. Yolanda was taught to rug hook by her sister Micaela in 2016. In the beginning Yolanda found the rug hooking technique difficult, on occasions she despaired, but she didn’t give up, inside of her a voice said, “We are all capable of doing things when we put our minds to doing them.” She now feels very satisfied with what she has done, and she feels happy when people use the word “artist” to describe her. Her rugs are inspired by the symbols and motifs found in traditional Maya clothing and by nature. Yolanda’s dream is to complete her high school education and she would like to travel, particularly to those places where Multicolores’ rugs are sold, so she can meet the people who buy her rugs. With the money she has made through rug hooking, she is now able to have good access to healthcare and help her family with their household expenses. Yolanda is part of Multicolores’ Leadership Program.
GLENDY EMILIANA MUJ MENDOZA DE BARRENO
Glendy, 36, is one of the original members of Multicolores. She served as Secretary on its founding board, and it is she who suggested naming the organization Multicolores. Glendy learned to hook rugs from Mary Anne Wise in 2010 and went on to become the leader for the Patanatic rug-hooking group. She is widely known for her strong leadership and compassion and is part of Multicolores’ three-year-long Leadership Program. She says, “As members of Multicolores, we share the same philosophy, that by helping and respecting each other, we can all move forward together.” Glendy has used the money from her rug sales to pay for her children’s education and to make many improvements to her home, which she shares with her husband and children in Patanatic. Drawing, imagining designs, and combining the colors are her favorite aspects of rug hooking.
SILVIA LETICIA AJCOT SOLIS
Silvia, 26, lives with her husband and four children in the community of Patanatic. Silvia was taught to rug hook in 2015 by Juana Calel Yax, one of the members of her rug hooking group. Silvia likes measuring and cutting the recycled fabric so that she can integrate it into her rugs. She is proud that a concern for the environment is woven into her art. Silvia enjoys rug hooking because she can work from home and be with her children; she can also schedule her rug hooking around her other daily commitments. One of the changes that she has seen in her life from the moment she joined Multicolores is that she has more freedom to leave her house for group meetings and trainings, and in this way, she can clear her mind, since previously she could not do it.
GLORIA ANGÉLICA YAX YAX DE TUMAX
Gloria, 38, lives with her husband and daughter in Totonicapán. Gloria’s sister-in-law, rug hooking teaching Ramona Tumax Tzunun, taught Gloria to rug hook in 2015. Her rug designs are inspired by traditional Maya clothing. Gloria loves the process of combining colors because this gives life to her work. Gloria wants people to see the emotions and feelings that she expresses in her rugs. She also enjoys the shared time with other rug hookers, swapping ideas, and socializing outside the home. She has gained more experience and knowledge by participating in the rug-hooking tours. In the beginning her husband would not let her join the Totonicapán Rug Hooking group, but when he saw that she was bringing significant income into the household, he relented. Now he is very supportive and even helps her to cut her paca (fabric). Now Gloria feels she has more freedom, she feels useful, and she can make independent spending decisions. She uses part of the income from the sale of her rugs to ensure that her family have their basic needs met, and the rest she invests in her daughter’s education so that she can have a better future. When people value her work, this gives Gloria the courage to keep moving forward.
IRMA CHURUNEL AJÚ
Irma, 28, lives in the small farming community of Chuacruz with her parents and two sisters. She saw her sister Micaela learn the technique from other members of Multicolores and knew she wanted to learn as well. Already a weaver and beadworker, Irma welcomed the opportunity to earn more income but also the challenge of learning a new craft. Income earned from rug making helps pay for her younger sister and brother to attend school. Irma was chosen to take part in the Multicolores Leadership Program. She and her two sisters have become well known for the distinctive styles of their hooked rugs, which often incorporate nahaules, Maya birth symbols. Irma says she hopes to continue evolving as an artist: “As an artist, I believe I can achieve anything.”
LEANDRA SILVERIA ROBLES
Leandra, 36, lives with her husband and daughter in Totonicapán. Her son and other daughter are currently living in the United States. Without a formal education, and with a family to provide for, Leandra worried that the only employment options open to her would be to continue selling corn, beans, and rice on market days in Totonicapán. Then she joined Mary Anne Wise’s rug hooking class in 2011 and through determination, motivation and hard work, Leandra is now making a sustainable income from the sale of her rugs. As her talent has blossomed so has her self-confidence. She hopes she is a role model for her two daughters: she wants them to realize that women can bring about positive change in their own lives. Rug hooking also fits around Leandra’s life as a wife and busy mother.
PASCUALA VICENTE AZ
Pascuela, 51, lives in Chirijquaic. She is married with ten children. Pascuala began rug hooking with Mary Anne Wise in 2011 with the hope of earning an income and making a better life. She likes all the parts of rug making, especially designing and combining the colors. She also likes being with her friends in her rug hooking group and the sharing of ideas among the artists. The income she now earns is a big help to her family. Her hope for the future is to be able to bring electricity into her home and build a better house. She currently shares electricity with one of her children and the payment is divided between them. She said she doesn’t know where her family would be today without Multicolores. She thanks the Association for always been patient with her and encouraging her to keep improving every day in everything she does.
TOMASA VENTURA CÚMEZ
Tomasa, 25, lives with her parents and 7 brothers and sisters in Quiejel. With the encouragement of her parents she began rug hooking with Yolanda Calgua Morales in 2012. She loves designing and choosing colors. Her income helps the family buy food, clothing and pay for medical expenses. Tomasa is proud that income from her rug making has enabled her family’s standard of living to improve and that some of her mother’s health bills are covered. Tomasa describes herself as hardworking, sincere, and responsible. Her goal is to be an exemplary artist who inspires young people, and alongside the other members of her group, achieve a change in the lives of their families. Tomasa is part of Multicolores’ Leadership Program.