Gulmira Akmatovav is a first-time Market who is part of this year’s International Folk Art Alliance (IFAA) Campaign for Artist Sponsorship. IFAA is honored to have her attend, enjoy, and benefit from 2016 International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe. In the Tien Shen mountains of Kyrgyzstan, Gulmira Akmatova is honoring and continuing traditional handweaving techniques and improving the lives of local women and farmers. She was born into a family of sheepherders, embracing rural values and practicing sustainable agriculture since childhood. She learned to weave from her grandmother, starting to spin her own wool at the age of six and weaving traditional patterns by the age of nine.

Twenty-two years ago, Gulmira discovered a traditional loom at her father’s farm. Not wanting it to go to waste, she started to weave again. Her passion was reignited and Mountain Cedar Woolens was born. The company is engaged in the entire process of producing, marketing, and selling handwoven items. Gulmira raises sheep on her family farm and the handspinning and weaving is done by life-long artists and the younger women they mentor.

Gulmira’s blankets are made on a style of wooden loom that has been used for centuries to create a unique weave called terme. Terme textiles are woven using tightly twisted thick threads, resulting in a durable and dense textile. The process is laborious and requires many steps. Gulmira prides herself on the warm and natural feel of her blankets, as well as their longevity.

She is improving her community by increasing employment and providing sustainable income for farmers. Gulmira has taught more than 40 women the techniques and patterns of her grandmother, ensuring that the knowledge and skills of this beautiful art are being passed down and preserved for future generations. She says, “I measure my success by how many women and families benefit directly by what we are doing.”

With your donation towards artist sponsorship, IFAA will be able to provide direct financial support for Gulmira and other first-time Market artists to participate in this year’s International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe that includes:

  • Mentor to Market entrepreneurial education workshops designed to assist first-time Market artists to have the best possible opportunity for success
  • Warehousing and local transportation of artwork
  • International airfare
  • Lodging
  • Local transportation
  • Meals

Click here to learn more about all first-time Market artists in this year’s Artist Sponsorship Campaign.

Sponsor Gulmira today. Gifts of every size make a difference. Your support will empower Gulmira to transform her life and give voice to her community. Invest in cultural heritage and folk art traditions and enable Gulmira and Mountain Cedar Woolens be catalysts for social change.