Artisan Organization: Alicia Huaman
"I was born and raised in the Huamanga province of Ayacucho. My parents were muleteers and they brought us up with good values, including a strong sense of responsibility. I finished middle school and I remember those days as days of fun with my classmates.
"My artistic formation began after I married. My husband wove rugs and tapestries‚ his grandfather taught him. My husband taught me all about weaving, including all textile secrets and the intricacies of the weaving techniques regarding rugs, cushion covers and other wool and alpaca items.
"My husband introduced me to this beautiful world of handicrafts and I discovered the wonders behind each handcrafted piece. I was also enthralled to be 'playing' with the different colors that come from natural dyes.
"Unfortunately my husband and I split up but it was an amicable parting. We had a good talk and he wanted to do something else with his life so he let me keep the workshop and we continue signing our work as SUMAC, from the Quechua word sumaq meaning beautiful.
"One of the most meaningful moments I have about when I first began to work on the loom is when I wove a little rug with leftover yarn. Because of its many colors I called it 'Rainbow' and I sold it for just about $20. I felt so excited and proud! I discovered the thrill and joy of being an artist, and the feeling of fulfillment an artisan experiences when a stranger is attracted to your work and wants to take it home.
"One of my favorite pastimes is to embroider sheets and to crochet. Now I also embroider cushion covers and placemats with either wool or alpaca. It has practically become part of my work too. I simply love what I do, and that's why I want to keep on doing it as long as possible.
"I describe my work as something I love and highly value. I have so much love and respect for my art that, if I don't like the colors I combined, I will undo it and start all over again so that my design is perfect, just the way I imagined it.
"What motivates me about my art is that it's a way to let people know about my beloved Peru, our culture and products. It is also a means to provide for my family so that we can forge ahead together and have a better future. I want my children to have a good education so that they may have good opportunities in life.
"Another reason why I love this art is that it relaxes me against life's pressures.
"What I want to convey through my work is the beauty in embroidered art, as it is an art form that helps us women to get ahead. It is also a way to introduce ourselves through our designs ‚Äî our happiness, our sadness, triumphs and failures. We express all of that through our work and it allows us to get ahead without anyone's help. This makes us feel happy and independent.
"Through my art, I revisit our past and get to know more about the Inca Empire. I consult books featuring the art and the designs developed by different pre-Hispanic cultures. We wish to make it known to people around the world so people everywhere treasure them as much as we do.
"I only show my work at home, where I welcome shoppers who come to visit me.
"I've faced different challenges throughout my life but, thanks to my children's support, I can face them head on. There's nothing that could put me down as long as my children are by my side.
"I would like to thank you for selecting my work and truly valuing it. Many thanks for welcoming me into your home through my art.""