Every one of these last days before my departure bring a new sense of blessings and the awareness that this Back to the Villages project was “meant to be”. The involvement of the donors in the project is the source of these surges of rosy feelings. Each one reminds me of why I decided to include this “extra” North-South dimension.
The North-South dimension is already hugely present: white person from North studies weaving tradition in South, based on information stored in museums and archives in the North, derived from past happenings in the South; she makes a book in the North using information collected in the South and will transport that back to the South etc. etc.etc.
Most poignant right now are the goodwill donations from the North. Just the other day, I received a letter from my dear friend, Heather Wilson. It touched me deeply and I am glad that she is willing to let me share some of it in this blog:
“I am so happy to be able to support this project. To have their “folk art” (as some might say) interpreted as an expression of their lives (and of them) to the world should be a source of enormous pride to the weavers. To have someone say, “I see what you are doing, and it is important” sometimes comes too late – or often, not at all (which is why your current success is so gratifying to all of us!!!!!) ....”
Such spontaneous, heartfelt goodwill reminds me of the first donation. It was made in Seattle last September (2009) after I delivered a talk in which I mentioned the Back to the Villages plan. A beautiful and enthusiastic lady in the audience (Nancy Evans), wearing a spectacular handmade lace collar, opened her pocketbook and asked how she could contribute to the project. I scratched my head and then suggested that she could perhaps donate a book. Thus an idea was born.
There is a ring of authenticity in all of the messages that I have received, as the donors have put their hearts into their words.
(This book is) proof that the maintenance of your traditions and art are of importance to the World. The members of the Soroptimist Club in Arnhem (Holland) wish you well in the future.
The Soroptimists of Arnhem have given generously to this project.
A message from a member of the Indonesian Heritage Society who was particularly helpful during the preparations for the journey wrote,
I hope this book will give you, and many others, the inspiration to continue the wonderful gift of weaving those magnificent Batak Ulos.
I have fallen in love with them and the culture they represent.
Warm regards from a textile lover and enjoy this gift.
Helmy de Korver
My mother is also excited about the project! She hopes that her contribution can be given to Nai Ganda, one of my closest Batak weaver friends:
I think your work is very beautiful. Best wishes and congratulations from the proud mother of Sandra from Canada, a faraway country.
In my own experience, oscillating between North and South, my life in each half is but a “half life” and I need to keep combining the two to feel “whole”. This is not just a feeling; it is the result of a political, social, and economic reality. North and South continually reciprocally mold each other even if that awareness is not generalized or uppermost. I am so pleased about the donations to this project, not just because of the assistance that it represents in the Back to the Weavers project, but because of the awareness that it raises, the involvement and caring that it stimulates, the sense of “being part of it all”. In the end, the weaving tradition of the Batak can only continue if markets allow it to be viable. We create the market!
We have a daunting task ahead of us if we intend indigenous art traditions throughout the world to survive.