2016 canvas home™ Small Grants Awardees

ATA is proud to announce the 2016 Canvas Home™ Small Grants Program awardees. This year, the program sponsored 8 artisan groups from Bolivia, Senegal, El Salvador, Mexico, Chili, Guatemala and Turkey.

Here are the Awardees:

Artesania Sorata, Bolivia

Thirty-eight years ago Artesania Sorata, based in the Bolivian Andes, began as a labor of love͟ providing work to mothers who needed to support their families while husbands were working at mines far from home. They produce textile art in the forms of wall-hangings, pillow covers, eye-glass and cosmetic cases, small purses, dolls, hand-knit alpaca sweaters for children, babies and adults as well as scarves, gloves, hats and blankets. The raw materials are 100% alpaca yarn as well handspun, hand-woven woolen fabric. They specialize in making natural dyes at their workshop. Artesania Sorata plans to use the grant money to purchase raw materials that will help them to provide sustainable income to artisans. “A greater variety of raw material and sustainable eco-friendly yarn in the shop should help improve sales thus giving us the impetus to strengthen Artesania Sorata from within,” says executive director Diane Bellomy. Their goal is to provide stable work for the artisans of Artesania Sorata while sharing valuable Andean textile skills and artisans’ creations with the rest of the world.

Assamane, Senegal

Based in Senegal, Assamane produces clothes made of batik cloth, a traditional African method of dyeing which involves drawing shapes by stamping hot wax shapes on the cloth and plunging it into buckets of dye before washing off the wax. These materials are then tailored into contemporary clothing to create a blend between tradition and modern design. The key goal of this social enterprise is to achieve women’s empowerment in Senegal. To do so, uneducated women are trained to dye, sew or tailor. So far Assamane has trained 30 women and are creating a winter collection by 9 of these women who were trained by the enterprise. Assamane plans to use the grant funds for training the artisans on the use of organic, natural dyes. “Our enterprise is deeply committed to becoming environmentally sustainable. Giving training in organic dye is the opportunity that will allow us to become environmentally responsible at lower costs whilst at the same time increasing the skills and expertise that artisans gain whilst also protecting their health’ says Ms. Oumy Seck, President of the social organization.

The Artisan Collective, El Salvador

The Artisan Collective is a student-led initiative in Bell High School located in Washington DC. It is supported by the University of the District of Columbia 4H Program. The initiative began with a hammock weaving club led by two 10th grade students from La Ciudad de las Hamacas anquot (The City of Hammocks) located in Chalatenango, El Salvador. These highly skilled students are now sharing their knowledge by teaching their peers how to weave a hammock made from nylon rope. The goal of the group is to share skills, enhance cultural awareness, build self-confidence and earn internship hours needed for graduation.
With a vision to share this unique skill set with their classmates Bell High School will use the grant money to purchase raw materials and enhance their skills in weaving, leadership and teaching in the process of sharing these skills with student interested in learning how to weave. As a multicultural school with a high population of immigrant students, the group feels the need to enhance cultural identity, social support and a sense of community as these students face the impact of migration and the loss of identity, unless it is fostered. This grant will address these challenges and strengths by supporting this student-led initiative that hopes to provide them the opportunity preserve the Salvadoran culture of hammock weaving and share these skills with their peers.

Mitz Foundation, Mexico

Mitz Foundation was born in 2003, a vision of Judith Achar founder to use plastic wastes from businesses and schools as raw materials to make products of social value using an old Nahuatl  technique of palm fiber weaving.  Judith realized that such products could be sold to improve the income of these families.  Part of the sale proceeds are donated for educational grants to children in the community of Palo Solo. The Foundation has had a remarkable impact on the community from 2005 till 2016, re-using 25 tons of plastic to make bags, computer accessories, ornaments, organizers and household items–all are handmade by artisans in the Chimalhuacan communities. The Mitz Foundation’s plan is to invest the grant money to provide artisans with training so that they can develop productive and personal skills to help them become financially independent and thrive and benefit the overall community.

Kuzao Zomo, Chile

Women Entrepreneurs Association Kuzao Zomo was founded in June 2016 by 15 women of the Mapuche-Lafkenche community of Antonio Quintrecura, Chile.  Kuzao Zomo’s mission is to revitalize Mapuche culture and skills through production and marketing of arts and crafts for tourists and overseas markets. Their goal is better livelihoods for women artisans by reviving the art of traditional pre-Colombian vertical loom weaving and traditional basketry that are in danger of disappearing.  Kuzao Zomo mixes skilled artisans and beginners in workshop where skills and stories about these crafts can be passed from master craftsmen to trainees. The organization aims to use the grant money for raw materials and to compensate the artisans (women who normally work in the fields or outside the home) to teach their fellow artisans skills in basketry, crochet, pottery, and textiles through participatory workshops. As the women artisans become stronger cultural role models and develop their own sustainable livelihood opportunities, they hope to become examples to Lago Budi’s 8000 women and girls.

Multicolores, Guatemala

In March 2014, Multicolores was formed to improve the quality of life of Maya artists through access to income earning opportunities and programs that support craft development and encourage personal growth. The Association is made up of 50 rug hookers who believe investing in artisans also preserves cultural traditions that in many places are at risk of being forgotten. Multicolores makes rugs from recycled clothing purchased in local second hand clothing stores so their rugs are a source of income while using recycled clothing. The Rug Hooking Project has encouraged Maya women to produce innovative crafts, using rug hooking design elements and colors present in traditional, hand-woven Maya clothing. With this grant, Multicolores will expand opportunities for income generation through product development. Their vision is to innovate and introduce new products such as upholstery, cushion covers, handbags and decorative tablemats. Mayan women, who are often generally shy and reluctant to express their opinion have a new found confidence and self esteem as Glendy, one of the senior artisans says, “The rugs signify our culture, but also our efforts, how we have been able to get ahead. The rugs are part of us … part of our journey to be valued, respected and recognized. Making new products is the next step on this journey.”

Palmyra, Turkey

In 2015, Anatolian Artisans, Inc. with financial support from The Poverty Alleviation Fund  established an artisan product development project  to benefit Syrian women refuges located in the Istanbul area to help generate supplementary income for their families on a sustainable basis. The project was intended to help women with traditional weaving and sewing skills to make products to sell in Turkish and U.S. markets. They also established an artisan product development project to benefit Syrian women refugees located in the Istanbul area to help generate supplementary income for their families on a sustainable basis. This is how Palmyra was born and today consists of 25 Syrian women who make handicrafts crafts like flap bags, coin purse, pouches, eye glasses case with mosaic fabric and embroidery, ornaments, cuffs and pendants for the local and International market. Palmyra’s grant is focused on development and training for artisans as well as preparing them to run small businesses. Further, grant money will be used to create marketable products from raw materials such as thread, fabric, pin, etc. Since the artisans have strong knitting skills, Palmyra would like to conduct a workshop with local designers to innovate new designs and colors in knitted items such as beanies, scarves, gloves, socks and jewelry. By the end of the training period, Palmyra intends to produce a new product line that will be compatible in the local market and be integrated to the Turkish social and economic life.  Moreover it will enable women artisan to continue making traditional handcrafted products and contributing to preserve heritage and their culture.

SOMA, Turkey

Rising from the devastation of the mine blast in Soma, Turkey, SOMA was founded in 2016 under the umbrella of Anatolian artisans. SOMA creates beautiful handcrafts such as small purses, puppets, small bags, wristlets, necklaces and organic-cotton scarves.  The designs use graphics produced by the children of miners killed in the disaster. The women mainly use traditional skills like needle-lace and embroidery, which they are very well familiar and trained in. Currently while they have access to local markets in Istanbul and the U.S., SOMA aims to increase its marketing activities and the number of its artisans involved. SOMA intends to use the grant for participating in the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market to get access to International buyers. They hope through increased sales and larger client base, more women will be able to generate income for their families, further expanding artisan guilds activities.