Thursday, May 05, 2005

Mayans wear their identity

Friends of the Ixchel Museum (FOIM)

The Friends of the Ixchel Museum (FOIM) is a charitable, U.S. tax-exempt organization [i] formed in 1984 in New York City to foster and promote interest in the Guatemalan weaving tradition and in the Museo Ixchel, and to aid in the understanding, preservation and protection of Mayan textiles. The Mayans ‘wear their identity. It is woven into their heritage’. "Of all the treasures of Latin America", said Connoisseur Magazine in 1985, "none is more often overlooked than the native textiles... The world is the loser, because, at their best... notably the textiles of Peru and Guatemala, the weavings are sublime. The Ixchel is one museum that is actively helping to keep some of the world's last great weavers busy... and so to keep their art alive."

The Ixchel museum was founded in 1973 in Guatemala City and today is housed in its own new museum building on the campus of Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City. It is the first public building in Guatemala built with donated funds from private individuals, foundations and corporations, and it is a tribute to the extraordinary vision of several women. The museum has over 5,000 pieces in its textile collection. Moreover, it has the watercolors of Carmen de Pettersen and the oil paintings of the master primitive, Andres Curruchich.

The FOIM help the museum to:
Mount traveling exhibits such as one to the Witte Museum in 1988, the Mingei Museum in 1989, the Cofradía exhibit in 1992, Longwood Gardens in 1997, Abington Friends School, the Taller Puertoriqueño and the Morris Arboretum in 2001, and the Maya Weekend at Pennsylvania Univ. Museum in April 2002, and continuing. These exhibits bring knowledge of the Guatemalan textiles and the weavers to the American community. Because of the vivid colors, intricate designs, and the wonderful story these textiles tell, the exhibits are extremely well received and appreciated.
Produce and translate into English the Museum's scholarly monographs, which are part of a long range plan to document every weaving village.
Research, produce and disseminate books such as The History of Mayan Clothing (Sp. & Eng.), and Un Poco de Todo sobre el Tejido Maya- a well-received book for school children, which explains their Mayan heritage.
Provide audio-visual materials, especially documentary films, to accompany the exhibits. One project was the Atitlan video. This is a beautifully executed depiction of the lake villages and their weaving traditions.
Sustain the Pro-Teje (in behalf of weaving) project, which makes good quality weaving financially rewarding to the weavers by supplying them with free thread and technical assistance, plus payment for their products at the same minimum wage as men who work in the fields. Thus, the art and the quality of traditional Guatemalan weaving are preserved, while enabling more and more Mayan women to remain at home to raise their children as well as their standard of living. As the word has spread within the villages, more and more weavers have joined the program.
Acquire technology and equipment to communicate with scholars and other interested parties over the Internet.
Develop a textile conservation lab by helping the Museum obtain a grant from the Getty Museum.

[i] According to the news, Americans give some $200 billion in Charity each year. While they are incredibly generous, they want a tax deduction for their philanthropy. Tax deductions are only permissible when the gifts are to U. S. institutions properly certified by the IRS. Hence the proliferation of “Friends of…” organizations in the U.S. such as FOIM.

Welcome to the Ixchel Forum

This blog will be used to tell about the Friends of the Ixchel Museum.