5 days, 6 classes, 3 lectures, 1 fashion show, 1 gallery walk - Phew! I had a great experience.
Above - the results of my Rwandan coiling class with Janet Nkubana (below). Her drive is to teach the women of Rwanda a skill that brings income rather than just giving handouts of money. Her weavers' baskets are marketed here in the USA through Macys at www.macys.com/rwanda.
My first effort at the coiling was not going very well (the smaller in pic above). Janet taught the class of 20-ish (biggest class she's taught at once, she says) in a gentle manner with the assistance of one of her master weavers Aristood. (well, that may not quite be her name, that's what it sounded like!). As Aristood paused to survey my work a pained expression crossed her face. She pulled the chair beside me out, sat down, and proceeded to show me from the beginning again. With no English, we communicated with silence, glances, smiles. I watched with awe her long, graceful fingers smooth the coils and raffia. As she handed me the work - and I replicated her moves with slowness I admired the strength in her fingers that held the spring-like grasses in position.
Not a brilliant picture of Aristood above - her smile is wonderful - I didn't capture it.
The previous night was one of the keynote speeches for Convergence 2008. Willa Shalit , introduced by Mary Fisher , discussed her involvement with the weavers of Rwanda, and of her deep respect for the women who stitched peace back into their communites through their work. As she spoke, Aristood sat at the edge of the stage and stitched her baskets. The camera zoomed in on her work during the speech - I was mesmorized.