Artist Profiles


Morales Cooperativa de Alfombras de Mujeres


Western Hemisphere





Year(s) Attended:

Arlington: 2018


The centuries-old designs of the Mayan people provide the inspiration and innovation for more than 50 women rug makers from the highlands of Guatemala. Their handmade hooked rugs, made by recycling the cast-off clothing of their North American neighbors, are preserving their ancestral artistry and building economic stability. Rather than investing in expensive wool and cotton, the women resource bales of used T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other apparel sent from the United States and sold by local vendors. These cotton fabrics are the foundation for a contemporary textile art form of imaginative and affordable hooked rugs with colorful patterns that maintain the integrity of traditional Mayan motifs.

The work of this women’s cooperative has not only eliminated high material costs, it has built new market opportunities that capitalize on the global recycling movement and appeal to consumers who wish to support the movement through the products they buy. Hailing from communities where the average daily wage is less than $6, the women’s innovation and success in the marketplace has translated to critical infrastructure—window glass, plumbing, water pipes, and other vital necessities of daily life.