Artisans for Hope featured in Daily News!!

Posted: Saturday, April 2, 2016 12:00 am

By Terri Harber, Daily News staff writer |

Visual accounts of past lives are depicted by newcomers to the United States — and Idaho — on quilts coming to Moscow City Hall this month.

“This Is My Home Now: Narrative Textiles from Idaho Newcomers” will be up for viewing starting Thursday through May 11.

The official opening of the traveling exhibit will be 5 p.m. April 15 when speakers from the Idaho Commission on the Arts and Boise-based Artisans for Hope will talk about how refugees are able to develop fiber-handcraft skills while sharpening their ability to use the English language and learning how to market their acquired talents.

“Seventy-five percent of sales goes to the student who made the product,” said Elaine Garris, executive director. “They are able to connect, learn and earn.”

Artisans for Hope has disbursed over $70,000 to students.

The project has been going on for several years. A Boise writer interviewed refugees and chronicled their life experiences in their home countries, in refugee encampments, then here in the United States, Garris said.

“It’s very timely right now, and these pieces are beautiful and devastating,” said Steven Hatcher, state arts commission director of folk and traditional arts. “Their story is part of the Idaho story.”

Many Idahoans have no idea that people from around the world have found refuge in Idaho for decades. Boise and Twin Falls are sanctioned locations for refugees to live while receiving support to establish themselves in the United States.

“Many of these people are well-educated but have taken jobs driving a taxi or in housekeeping,” Hatcher said.

“They have completely changed their lives to live here, and they still do well for themselves,” he said. “It contradicts everything you hear on television talk shows.”

“These are hard-working, family-oriented, giving, welcoming people who also happen to make beautiful art.”

Hatcher tells of a woman from Afghanistan whose wedding day coincided with an attack against her community by mujahideen. On one of the quilts, a gunman is shown next to the couple as they sit in an open wagon.

Some works were lost during an arson fire last September at the Boise International Market. Those will be represented with posters at City Hall. That fire remains under investigation.

Works by Afghanis from the same collection will be shown at 7 p.m. April 14 at the Community Congregational United Church of Christ , 525 NE Campus St., Pullman, along with food and crafts for sale.

Terri Harber can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to tharber@dnews.com.