Artisans Beyond Borders Fall/Winter 2020 Newsletter

Now that we are heading into the Winter of the Pandemic, asylum-seekers and their families waiting in México are hanging on by the slimmest thread. Yet, artisans beyond borders are undeterred. Each is creating a future of her own composition in life-affirming color and resilient faith.

Small but mighty hummingbird of the south, aztec symbol of strength in life’s struggle.

Our wonderful new Logo created by student Aurora Nicole Ambrose from the University of Arizona School of Art class in Designing for Community & social good.

Threading Hope

     Now that we are heading into the Winter of the Pandemic, asylum-seekers and their families waiting in México are hanging on by the slimmest thread. Yet, artisans beyond borders are undeterred. Each is creating a future of her own composition in life-affirming color and resilient faith. Together, they ply that slim thread into a braid of hope as strong as Spider Silk. The chance to apply for Asylum in the U.S., could be just around the corner. They will wait as long as it takes.

Profiles in Courage and Creativity

Patricia Zaragoza Martinez newly embroidered bag. Find the all new work from the artisans at the Etsy BordandoEsperanza Shop.

     “For me, all the memories are beautiful,” says Patricia Zaragoza Martinez, a 32-year-old single mother of three whose favorite things to embroider are flowers and fruit. Her family has always embroidered the natural manta cloth they use as satchels for wrapping warm tortillas in. In addition to the recuerdos tranquilos –tranquil memories of home that she fondly recalls when embroidering, Patricia now has a measure of personal agency.

     Patricia’s garden in Guerrero, México was a field of flowers and fruit trees, they tended until organized crime came to their beloved part of the world, killed male members of her family, and threatened to kidnap the children. Patricia and her kids and a now fatherless nephew fled through the forest to Nogales, México, to seek asylum at the U.S. Port of entry. 

“It was very difficult for me to leave everything and be able to get here (to the border) because I come with very low resources and with my three children that are minors which makes it difficult to work. The support that the Artisans’ group gives us for our labor embroidering the mantas is for me a great help to feed my children,” Patricia says.

“Jesus and the Roses” by Patricia Zaragoza Martinez. Churches and Universities, Humanitarian and Cultural groups can arrange a Zoom viewing of the Artisans’ new faith-filled group exhibition: Bordando Esperanza: Devotional Retablos of Asylum

Spotlighting the artisanal embroidery of Patricia Zaragoza Martinez, also shines a light on one of ABB’s key partners: Border Outreach Coordinator Kat Smith, featured in “Embroidering Hope” We would not be able to receive artisans’ wares across the closed border without Kat’s on-going commitment to outreach.

 ArtisanS Beyond Borders new shop

     For now, they have this bit of work. It is not near enough to meet their family’s needs but it is something and people in the U.S. are beginning to discover the artisan’s Etsy shop. Zoom presentations by Artisans Beyond Borders Zoom also help bring people to the border to accompany, witness and support them.

     With the Etsy shop, they can get their work out there and buyers can choose their favorites. The makers are excited about designing and making new work – Market bags, mantas, and decorative guest towels. They watch the shop’s sales faithfully, and are lifted up each time someone makes a purchase.

Collector’s Corner

Embroidered Manta in the collection of Anita Tokos, Ohio

We extend our deep gratitude to Anita Tokos from Ohio, an ardent supporter of Artisans Beyond Borders from the start, who recently placed an order for 12 mantas for the holidays, our largest single order to date. Anita was raised in an immigrant family herself, and her words and the heart behind them, confer great respect for the other.

They arrived! … It was special to savor each manta, picturing who should have a particular one. True to my nature, I was a bit emotional by the time I got to the last one. Have always been moved to tears easily. I knew immediately the one for each of my daughters – fruit for Anne who loves to try new foods and cooking, a quiet floral for Andrea who is calming and gentle, and the Calla Lily for Amelia who loves that flower. Looking forward to giving them to my daughters, sister and friends…and keeping another for myself…”  

The purse is wonderful and so appreciated. I did not even see the other side with “Dios es Amor” until this evening. Thank you! …All are vibrant and beautiful. As with the first one I received and framed, all are as the holy cards of my childhood, calling me to prayer for each person who did the stitching… and those who make it possible for them to stitch.

Hope my Spanish is spelled correctly – almost typed “ricamo di speranza” – the Italian version (of Bordando Esperanza)! I knew my prayers in Italian before I knew them in English. Love how that stuff pops into my head. So on that note, be blessed in all the beautiful languages of the world…”

Anita welcomes an embroidered tapestry by an Artisan Beyond Borders into her home.

*Fans of Artisans Beyond Borders ~ We are just beginning to establish social media platforms. Please take a minute to open and like, favorite and follow: Etsy, FB, INSTA, Pinterest, Youtube. It is very much appreciated by the makers.

“Hope hallows the heartache and activates a sacred imagination.” Sr. Julia Walsh writes in the Global Sisters Report. We’re here and it is hard but it is holy, and we are heading somewhere mysterious, and it is holy too…”

Artisans Beyond Borders Summer/Fall, 2020 Newsletter

Women, Fiber art, and Immigrants ~ Profiles in Courage and Creativity

The Artisans ~ Profiles in Courage & Creativity

Last month we profiled Irma Pablo (above), an indigenous weaver and long-time embroiderer from Guatemala whose faith sustains her while she waits at the border with her toddler to apply for asylum. This month, in the face of COVID, she shares her embroidered prayer: If I am contagious Lord, may it be with your Faith and your Love.

41-year-old Eleuteria Ibarra Martinez, from Guerrero, Mexico, also learned to embroider at a young age from her beautiful mother, may she rest in peace.

In her own words, she writes:

First of all, a greeting to each one of you. Being here is a bit of suffering because we leave behind all the beautiful moments of coexistence, of peace and tranquility, in our beautiful towns. As an indigenous woman, I am proud of my roots, although for others I am an ignorant and Indian woman, as the mestizos tell us. Being humiliated before society for the simple fact of being what I am “Indigenous,” is sad. Now what brought me to where I am is not knowing about the men who believe they have the power to decide if they let you live or not, it is sad. Living in fear, afraid and thinking you are not going to wake up because they have you there watching over you, you do not live in ease, everything scares you, the streets, the roads, and other towns not even to go out to travel. The only option that you have is to go out to look for protection to other countries where my children, my husband, and I can be safe. Because the truth is, I don’t want to lose anyone else from my family since losing a loved one is a pain so strong that it is difficult to overcome. Months ago, after they assassinated my Father-in-law, we fled from them, but God is so great that he would protect us and bless us in this place that we are at today and thank you to each one of you, for your valued support, Kino Kitchen, San Juan Bosco shelter, Panchito and his Christina (Voices from the Border), and you (Artisans Beyond Borders) for supporting us. From my heart, thank you and God bless you always.

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“Peace is in us” embroidery by asylum-seeker Eleuteria Ibarra Martinez at the U.S.-Mexico border during the pandemic, 2020.

The most difficult things about being here is how to pay the rent, worrying about our safety here on the border, and not having any news regarding our asylum application. Nuestro proyecto – our project: bordando esperanza –  embroidering hope, also helps a lot with food, water, and electricity since it is most necessary.

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Embroidery on Manta cloth, asylum-seeker Eleuteria Ibarra Martinez,        U.S. – Mexico border, 2020

When I am embroidering, I feel happy and I forget for a moment all the bad that is happening to us. It expands my creativity and brings me love and much tranquility inside my heart.

Women, fiber art, and Immigrants

Many of you have asked how Artisans Beyond Borders has managed to survive much less thrive through a long summer slammed by politics and the pandemic at the border. We survived because of donors like you and like Patricia Zimmerman from Portland, Oregon who donated her entire stimulus check,  benefitting 20+ families for a full month.

Patricia (Pat), a serious handweaver, heard about ABB through the Weaving a Real Peace (WARP) newsletter. She says it hits all three of her hot buttons: “Women, fiber art, and immigrants” and when she received handpicked mantas in the mail, she was hooked.

Like many of us, Pat takes it personally. She told us how frustrating it is to witness a long-time friend unable to get a green card to work legally in the U.S. though he is married to a U.S. Citizen. “He and his family are the most decent, hardworking, and honest people I know,” she says.

Pat’s generous offering is the single largest donation we have had to date. Donations through the website this summer have been a godsend to the women and men we serve, especially now. While most of us can stay safe in our homes here in the U.S., asylum-seekers in Nogales feel blessed to have found a rare bed at a shelter for themselves and their kids. A few have been able to find a cheap room to rent. Others bed down each night at the town’s bus station.

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New ABB Materials Fund

Embroidery and crochet materials people donated from all over the U.S. sustained ABB ever since we began in the summer of 2019. Some needleworking materials were new and still in the package, and some were wonderful vintage finds from thrift stores. Unfortunately, non-colorfast vintage floss bled in the wash one too many times. We still had enough new unopened materials in our stash to get through the worst of the pandemic this summer and the artisans were grateful for the supplies.  Now that the shops are opening up again in Nogales, artisans can pick out their own materials from their favorite fabric store(s) such as the more culturally aligned (and in many ways, superior) Mexican thread they love.

Going forward, part of your donations will be going to the Artisans Materials Fund so they can purchase their own embroidery materials and supplies in-country. We want the makers to have as much agency and as many choices as possible and we want to support the local economy in Nogales.

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Artisans Beyond Borders News

Design for social justice & community well-being 

ABB has been chosen by the University of Arizona School of Art “Clients in the Community” class to collaborate on “Designing for Good,” with the focus on Social Justice: how good design makes a difference in the well-being of the community. From designing ABB ephemera to new social media, we are thrilled to work with such talented young designers, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Artisans Beyond Borders ZOOM Presentations to begin in October

Starting with a ZOOM PowerPoint presentation for the Migration Ministries Committee at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio, ABB is happy to offer congregations, social justice committees, Artisan Guilds, and college-age students a 30 minute PowerPoint presentation of our inspiring origin story with a Q & A and a digital “trunk show” of available mantas for each presentation. Participants can choose their favorites and when possible learn more about the individual artisans who created the work.

The resilience of the makers in the face of insurmountable odds humbles us beyond measure and inspires us to do better. Their personal stories bring the truth of migration to the table and give us the chance to understand how current policies impact families on our Southern border. To arrange a presentation for your group, email us at Artisans Beyond Borders

In truth and grace,

Tucson (and beyond) Friends of Artisans Beyond Borders.

*Translations by Elizabeth Gaxiola, Instructor & Doctoral Candidate, College of Education, University of Arizona.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe ~ stitching sanctuary with Artisans Beyond Borders

“While she waits at the U.S.~Mexico border to apply for asylum, Irma stitches Our Lady of Guadalupe ~ Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, the spirit and soul of our cross-border cultural arts program.”

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Made for Artisans Beyond Borders

Irma Pablo from Guatemala opens our portfolio of featured artisans at Artisans Beyond Borders.  While she waits at the U.S.~ Mexico border to apply for asylum, Irma stitched our Lady of Guadalupe ~ Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, the spirit and soul of our cross-border cultural arts initiative.

Irma learned to weave traditional huipils at a young age in school and embroider servilletas to hold tortillas on the table. “I am proud to make these mantas. she says. “It brings me peace and patience.”

In the rural area of Guatemala where she lived, Irma shepherded sheep and other animals on the farm. When her way of life was threatened, she fled for the border with her husband and her child. Her dream is to achieve asylum in the United States for a better future for her daughter.

For more information about makers and their beautiful work,  collectors, and upcoming offerings Sign up and receive the periodic Friends Newsletter at Artisans Beyond Borders or here at Art and Faith in the Desert.

 

 

Artisans Beyond Borders missing family today and every day on Father’s Day, 2020

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Artisans Beyond Borders asylum seekers missing family, embroider together in a shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

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Honoring our male Artisans ~ Asylum seeker David Aguilar’s beautiful embroidery.

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Artisan Beyond Borders Asylum seeker David Aquilar on the floor of the shelter in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico designing a manta to embroider.

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“Little Virgin Guide my Steps” original embroidery by Asylum seeker Israel Hernandez at the U.S.- Mexico border in the middle of the pandemic.

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Gentleman Embroiderer Israel Herdandez on the U.S. – Mexico border, Father’s Day 2020