What a joy to have friend and Ibu Ambassador, Ali MacGraw, join us for our Ten Year festivities this week. We look forward to celebrating with her and the 450 allies coming together at Festival Hall this evening! For those of you too far away to join us, she offers words here about her experiences with Ibu over the last eight years and why she gives so much of herself to this movement, as we all link arms on this International Women's Day.
with anticipation —Susan Hull Walker
Growing up, I was surrounded by handmade things and books about people from all over a world that were so different from my little corner of the American Northeast. My parents were artists, and my father designed the rugs my mother hooked, and the silver jewelry they made together. It was all very far from the diamond circle pin and strand of pearls that defined those days! And when, years later, I found myself in a profession which often demanded that I make an effort to dress up, chances were that I would add something wonderful from a faraway country.
When I found myself living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, my passion for glorious global textiles and jewelry only deepened. Our annual International Folk Art Festival, at which I have volunteered for over fifteen years now, has enabled me not only to discover treasures, but to meet so many amazing artists from every culture imaginable. It is indeed a feast (and also part of a trip being auctioned tonight!).
About seven years ago, when I was up on Museum Hill, volunteering again, I almost literally ran into Susan Walker, about whose work and dream I had already been hearing so much. We met for lunch, and she told me about Ibu, already well off the ground. It involved working with women from countries stretching from one corner of the earth to the other, helping them to create lives of respect and financial security through their centuries-old handwork. Would I like to help? Yes, I most certainly would, and thus began my efforts designing several early collections with Susan’s wonderful, tiny crew, now grown to the large and superb team.
Ali MacGraw with Susan at the InternationalFolk Art Market in 2014, and designing with Naga artisan, Tiala Neufeld.
Susan has long travelled the globe and herself studied the glorious textiles which have been the enduring language, as she calls it, of so many cultures. Her own collection of textiles is astonishing, and it is clearly important that in this increasingly plastic world, the women of Ibu continue to create them and share them with all of us.
What especially matters to me about Ibu is this: we women, banded together from everywhere on Earth, have the power to change the heartbreaking mess which our planet has become. We can come together, doing our work, sharing the magic that is our language, and with that, whole communities are strengthened. We gain respect for the money we bring home, and clear direction for our daughters to create stronger families and lives. In so many cultures women are treated solely as baby-makers, and Ibu changes all that: we become indispensable, respected, vital members of a new kind of family. The very word Ibu means a woman of respect in Indonesia. I love that. And I love that every piece of that story brings Compassion and Connection and Beauty… and Peace. It also strengthens real human contact in this overwhelmingly automated world, and from one women’s group, to another, a new world begins to form.
Ali has done 4 collections for Ibu, including a Holiday gift collection and two Spring Garment Collections.
Ibu makes me makes me believe that real caring and support and honoring of our diverse heritages really counts, and the result is Beauty. To me, in this incredibly challenging time, this all adds up to real Hope for the future of us all, and Joy, too. Bravo, Susan and Ibu, and let me say Happy, Happy Tenth Birthday! Here's to a remarkable next ten!
With anticipation with all that awaits us,