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Woodworkers of Jesus

Artisan Organization: Woodworkers of Jesus

Country: El Salvador

"We are from the warm and beautiful country of El Salvador. Surrounded by mountains, it is a privileged place in the shadow of the Cerro Miramundo with the coolness of the Cerro el Pital. Tourists interested in handicrafts visit our area in the Department of Chalatenango.

"Our group, named 'Grupo Artesanal Madero de Jesús' in Spanish, was founded by my mother, Señora Aminta de Mancía," her son Edgar says. "She was a loving homemaker and my father worked in construction. She was one of the first to begin creating naïf-style handicrafts of wood, and her motifs depicted everyday life in the countryside. During the 1970s and early '80s, she worked with the renowned painter Fernando Llort, who was the first to create these designs. My mother learned from him and, through practice, perfected her technique over time.

"In 1998, she founded our artisan group. We create our designs with the techniques she had learned. Our first years were quite difficult, due to the complicated political and economic situation caused by the civil war. Many times we worked with the threat of battles between the army and the guerrillas. But this did not stop my mother from motivating us to move ahead with our handicrafts, as it was the only economic opportunity available to support artisan families.

"Over the years, our group grew. We've been able to provide work to people of limited resources, and we work together like a family, supporting one another. Today, my brothers and I assist our mother in all her activities, and each of has become an expert in some part of the production process.

"Our designs are created with great care and delicacy. Before they are finished, they pass through the hands of designers, carpenters, painters, varnishers and packers. For the most part, these people combine their craft work with their domestic chores. This lets them take care of their families while earning an income, which permits a better quality of life for the family and community.

"Thank you for the opportunity to show our talent and art to the world. In each piece you can perceive the heart of our people and our culture.""