Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sefrou buttons at International Museum of Folk Art, Santa Fe

The Women's Button Cooperative of Sefrou will be taking part in an exhibition entitled Empowering Women: Artisan Cooperatives that transform communities from 4 July at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

Led by Amina Yabis (pictured above), the craft association was formed to market the hand-woven buttons women had been making in their homes for generations. Amina Yabis was a typical Moroccan housewife and mother of four boys, whose husband was a school teacher. With the support of her husband and family, she decided to break out of the narrow role defined for her by Moroccan society and help women play a part in the economic and political life of her community. Economic success led to a literacy campaign for women and as a result more economic opportunities.

In addition to the exhibit, Amina will participate in the 7th Annual Santa Fe International Folk Art Market from July 9-11. This will be her second trip to the market. Last year, Amina was invited to participate and received financial assistance for travel and lodging expenses, and was part of a three-day training. She is looking forward to the exhibit and to the market. The exhibit will be an opportunity to share her experience and to learn from others. The market is a great opportunity to raise some much needed capital for raw materials, equipment, and for the enhancement of their cooperative's workspace.

Marsha Bol, Director of the Museum of International Folk Art explains that, 'As the largest folk art museum in the world, we have a responsibility to create a forum to discuss current issues that folk artists are facing around the world. This ‘Gallery of Conscience’ will be devoted to the examination of issues that threaten the survival of the traditional arts, bringing them to the attention of our visitors.'

Focusing on ten cooperatives that illustrate how the power of such grassroots collaborations transform women’s lives, the exhibit brings together first person quotes, stellar photos, and stunning examples of the cooperatives’ handmade traditional arts to tell stories of how women folk artists are working cooperatively to improve their lives.

The featured cooperatives are drawn from three continents and ten countries including India, Nepal, Swaziland, South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Bolivia, Lao PDR, Peru and Morocco. Featured folk arts include embroidered story cloths, hand dyed sisal baskets, beaded neck collars, hand carded and dyed wool weavings, cultivated bromeliad bags, and folk paintings of village life.

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