Fervently, I turn the last page of The Hare with Amber Eyes by a favorite artist-author, Edmund de Waal, which investigates his illustrious family history, their journey from Odessa to Vienna and Paris in the 19th century, and how they lost everything during the Holocaust except a collection of rare Japanese netsuke, hand-carved ornaments rescued from the occupying Nazis by a beloved member of their household staff who hid them in her mattress. I think to myself how gracefully the persistence of these 264 handheld netsukeexemplifies the power with which art and craft hold and tell each of our stories.
As I reflect on our transformative year with the artisans of Ibu, my heart warms that much like the historical cousins of de Waal’s story, so too the supporters of Ibu recognize the importance of preserving objects that possess our shared history and culture, and see the value of supporting the artistic women of the Global South rising through their craft.
Recently, Ibu allies in Charleston were spirited by the presence of several modern-day artists from Colombia—Amelicia, Mercedes, Chefa, and others—each channeling their passion for preservation and education through the symbology of their craft. The evening was a stunning crescendo of the past decade, and a celebratory means to usher in a new dynamism of Ibu—united and strengthened under a growing nonprofit banner.
I invite you to peruse our 2022 - 23 annual report we are delighted to release today, where you will learn of our first successes in Ibu’s Ten Year Initiative (launched in 2022) to double our artisan impact. Thanks to your faith and support, we have made broad steps forward in each of our four mission pillars:
- increasing the marketplace for artisans,
- doubling grants to artisan collectives,
- building cross-border engagement through our Fringe Road travel,
- and sharing the strong visions and voices of the women who lead on the ground.
Ibu also hosted 18 educational events and we were thrilled to have many of you in attendance. Others of you traveled with us to Colombia and Kenya, or committed to exploring Jordan, Morocco, and Uzbekistan with an open mind and willingness to shift your vantage point as you commune with our artisan partners over traditional dinners, technique tutorials, and narratives of their heritage and culture. Most of you have purchased artisan-made goods, providing an important pipeline of funds back into the hands of women around the world.
May our shared successes be a buoy for you this holiday season—sending you into the new year, where much more work remains to be done, with hope for the rising tide led by women of respect—the Ibu women of the world.
With joy for what lies ahead,