TAFA Tour: African Threads
Afghan Tribal Arts is a member of TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List and today we are doing a special thing where members feature the next person on The List. This is great because both of us sell ethnic textiles and even though they are so different from each other, the role these textiles play in villages and culture is very similar. Most of TAFA’s members are contemporary studio artists who work in a variety of textile/fiber techniques (weaving, embroidery, felting, knitting, etc.). But, there are also quite a few of us who sell both old and new traditional textiles rooted in a specific cultural history (Afghanistan, India, South Africa, Peru, etc.). Then, there are other members who make or sell handmade or grown supplies (wool, dyes, etc.).
|African Threads bridges all three of these categories as it is owned by Valerie Hearder, a Canadian quilt artist who has a contemporary and modern approach to her work. Her efforts with African Threads come out of a love for the people who have been affected by the plight of AIDS in South Africa. African Threads is a Fair Trade business so purchases of their products directly benefit the communities of mostly women who made them.||
|South Africa has a rich history in the arts and crafts production has long been used in economic development initiatives by many organizations. But, Valerie’s knowledge of the quilt world world, her own avid interest in textiles and design, has contributed to new designs that capture the West’s attention. I especially like the Michael Jackson embroidery pictured at the left.One would think that Valerie’s own work would have an African feel to it, but her palette and themes speak much more to her Canadian landscape:
“Softly Summer” art quilt by Valerie Hearder.
Quite the contrast, isn’t it?
The work that Valerie does in these communities is truly a matter of life and death. So many young people have died of AIDS in South Africa that whole generations of mothers and fathers have been wiped out, leaving the elderly to care for the very young. This video, shown on Valerie’s website, is a moving narrative by one woman who not only cares for her grandchildren, but also visits patients at the local AIDS clinic, even after having been diagnosed as HIV positive herself. She speaks with such joy and compassion, a testament to even in the most adverse of situations people do band together and have something more to give, much more than most of us in the West would ever think possible:
|One of the exciting projects that Valerie is working on is a South African Tour. The next one is planned for April 2013, but people are already starting to sign up for one in 2014. Keep updated with the plans on this page: Tour.|
Here is a photo album of some of Valerie’s images, both textiles and some African people:
Afghan Tribal Arts is not an official fair trade organization. Yet, the beads we carry provide the artisans with much-needed work and income. The vintage textiles all speak to a rich history and tradition in the region and continue to inspire and speak to us, reminding us of those who came before us. There are so many wonderful projects going on all over the world and now we even see more happening in Afghanistan, too. When you purchase something made by an artist, whether they are schooled in our definitions of what art might be or come from a self-taught community center, you are bringing joy to the world in so many ways. The maker benefits from the income and from the ability to work from home, the buyer benefits from the beauty of the object and the relationship created to the maker, and the world benefits by having less trash made.