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Abel Zevallos Montes

Inspiring the younger generation with traditional techniques and an eye towards the future

Makiarte is a collaboration between a group of friends and artists to use traditional designs, crafts, and culture of Peru to inspire “folk art interesting and appropriate for the times,” explains member Abel Zevallos Montes. Weaving and knitting were already an important part of Peru’s cultural heritage so Abel notes the expansion into macrame for his group of 10 artists was a natural one, deciding together “to explore the limits of this interesting craft” to create colorful knotted bracelets in addition to bags and hand-knitted wrist warmers.

“The tools and materials are very simple for making macrame: thread, a tool to tighten the knots and a board. The thread is sourced in Lima and we make the board with wood and nails,” notes Abel. Depending on the style of the bracelet, which the artists develop together, different knotting techniques may be used. Each artist is responsible for completing the entire bracelet including the clasp from start to finish. For knitting and weaving, “everything is handmade according to the traditional techniques we inherited from our parents and grandparents,” says Abel, adding “plants are harvested seasonally to make the dyes, the needles are thin spokes from old bicycle wheels, and the sheep is from our flock or we buy it in Ayacucho.”

The Makiarte collaborative hopes to inspire other young artists in Peru to learn the traditional crafts of their culture and to experiment with ways to also make them contemporary. “It is an important part of our history that we do not want to lose,” the artists point out. “We hope to encourage young people to work with folk art. We realize from personal experience that it is not possible to support a family doing folk art but that we can still keep the traditions alive. We are proud promoters of handmade crafts in the Central highlands of Peru.”