As part of her graduating project with Capilano University’s Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Care and Education program, Aja Papp joined our project at Santana for two months in 2019. Aja’s project focused on the cultivation of a small textile studio space at Santana’s early childhood program, ‘Nivel Inicial’. In conversation with educators, aunties, grandmothers, sisters, and other women in the community, the studio was collectively made, and re-made, to recuperate and reconnect with ancestral Andean textile practices.

Aja and participating women engaged three times a week knitting/weaving/looming/crocheting/sewing alongside the children. The materials of the textile studio were also available to all women and educators to use out in the community.

Please also see our post on ‘knittivism’ for more on how textile inquiries have continued to act as a provocative and deeply meaningful form of community activism for women and children at Santana.

Textile Studio Manifesto

Here, wool dances with metal and wood; it wraps around fingers and drapes along tile floors, curling and cascading in currents across the floor. Fabric nestles and settles into baskets, making memories across folded lines, weighing down baskets woven by hand, and waiting for hands to lift and drape it, wrap and stitch it. It is a place of poetry embodied, dancing with materials and tangling with the difficult work of attention, patience, and care. It is a place for moving always with and in response to the generous flexibility of these materials as we find ourselves reconnecting with the textile languages that have woven people and place together within Cuenca along its vibrant threads of history. We are drawn into the traditions of a place inseparable from its stories of making. A place of knowing through hands and bodies. As our fingers pull, poke, wrap, and weave, materials snag, caress, tangle, and sway. We embody the metaphors of weaving and knitting as we tangle ourselves with each other into a collaborative and collective body. We find ourselves implicated in the making with materials. As we move our bodies to meet the materials we are always stepping into a new place of curiosity and discovery, knowing and unknowing, doing and undoing.

Manifesto by Aja Papp