From the moment Marilyn Anderson arrived in Guatemala in 1965 she was taken with the vibrant and colorful Maya artisan traditions. Throughout the 1960s and 70s she learned to weave on a backstrap loom and photographed artisans working in traditional techniques. She later used her photos to sketch, draw, paint and finally create woodcuts of stunning graphic sensibility.
The result of many years of creative work came alive in her card sets, and most recently in her book, Guardians of the Arts/Guardianes De Las Artes. The beauty and history of Guatemalan arts are alive in its pages; her love of its people and the amazing artisans–backstrap weavers, spinners, basketmakers and embroiderers– shines through in each woodcut and descriptive story.
Art With a Social Purpose
Marilyn is passionate about creating art with a social purpose, to help others and to share the Maya tradition of arts and crafts. Guardians of the Arts/Guardianes De Las Artes is divided into sections featuring weaving processes; fiber techniques such as twine making, papermaking and broom making; ceramic and glassmaking styles; and leather, metal and wood working chapters. Candle making and oil painting complete the variety of art and craft skills. More than forty art techniques are described along with a unique woodblock print that demonstrates part of the process and features an artisan at work. Many of the artisans were friends and acquaintances of Marilyn’s from the time she lived in Guatemala. The books wraps up with supplementary notes that explore changes in Maya art, the violence of the 1980s civil war and its effect on weaving, ecology in the arts and the preservation of culture.
Marilyn’s dedication to the families of Guatemala brought this book into the world to help us treasure and nurture the artisans in Guatemala and their continuing love of arts and crafts. It is a testament to the spirit of creative ingenuity that still abounds in this beautiful country today. (Guardians of the Arts was printed in Guatemala by a women-owned print shop in Guatemala City. It is completely bilingual in Spanish/English.)
The Coloring Book Project
Marilyn Anderson’s devotion to the importance of the Mayan languages is clearly seen in her coloring book. First printed fifteen years ago in eight indigenous languages, there are plans for a new edition that will add another eight languages. Her belief, supported by many cultural anthropologists, that loss of language leads to loss of culture, grew out of her experience of living in Jacaltenango in the 60s and 70s. Everyone spoke Jacalteco. Maya educators continue to enthusiastically use the coloring book in Maya/Spanish bilingual classrooms to teach language and the cultural arts and traditions of Guatemala.
Pro Arte Maya
Marilyn Anderson’s Pro Arte Maya educational project supports women and children in Guatemala. Being a mother who understands how children shape our lives and encourage us in our work, she created a new set of cards (Guatemala-Women of Hope) featuring Maya mothers and children who have survived war and separation but continue to thrive as artisans in a country devoted to family. A portion of profits from the sale of these cards goes to the schools of the Consejo May Jun Aipu Isb’ alamke and other education projects for children in Guatemala.
Pro Arte Maya brings light to the world of textiles, women, and artisans through projects that continue to benefit the people of Guatemala. Join the effort by supporting these women and their children through the purchase of Guardians of the Arts, a coloring book, or set of cards, so that Maya mothers can continue to bring hope and security. Shop the ClothRoads Store.