The Art of Leadership

The Art of Leadership

In March 2022, eight Multicolores rug hooking artists graduated from the three-year Leadership Program. Each leader also designed and created a special artwork commemorating her experience in the program. Below, the leaders share their original artworks and artist statements:

“The two trees in this rug represent the two of us. On our branches we grow many leaves, representing the many lessons and new forms of knowledge that we learned during the leadership workshop. The different birds flying above us, visiting the branches of the trees, represent the workshop facilitators who shared their life experiences and knowledge with us.

The trees also represent our Leadership in Action community project, the culmination of our experience, in which we planted hundreds of trees to reforest a part of our community damaged by erosion and landslides. We chose to design this piece collaboratively, working together as we have done as leaders.”

 – Nicolasa Pacay Barán and Glendy Emiliana Muj Mendoza, leaders of the Patanatic rug hooking group 

Leadership in Action was the theme of the third and final year of the Leadership Program. As their final project, Nicolasa and Glendy organized a reforestation initiative in Patanatic. First the artists grew hundreds of tree seedlings from seed, planting a thoughtful selection representing different species (including jacaranda, Nicolasa’s favorite). They planned environmental educational activities with local schools, though these activities were canceled due to the pandemic. Finally, when the seedlings were large enough, the leaders organized family members and neighbors to plant the trees. Every few months, they continue to visit the tree seedlings, water them during the dry season, and tend to the seedlings as they grew.

“Participating in the Leadership Program was a joy for me. Before the program I was a person without skills and without knowledge; I didn’t feel confident participating or sharing my opinion in a meeting or community activity. I was like a tree without rain, slowly losing my leaves, lifeless and rooted in one place.

When I started participating in the Leadership Program, little by little I began to grow and discover that I could become a person with many abilities. Through the workshops, I acquired knowledge and lost my fear of speaking up. My understanding came from different people who shared their knowledge with us during workshops; each workshop opened our eyes to the fact that as women, we have the right to do many things.

It changed my life, transforming me into a capable person with the knowledge and confidence to express myself.”

 – Juana Yolanda Churunel Ajú, leader of the Chuacruz rug hooking group

“When I think of myself before the Leadership Program, I was a very timid person, and I suffered from chronic back pain. When I think of the Leadership Program, I think of how all my fellow leaders supported me and surrounded me with kindness. I am proud that I never let my chronic pain prevent me from making the most of the opportunity. I never missed a workshop. I was always engaged and participated actively, sharing with my fellow leaders.

The joy and learning of those workshops and the time we shared together helped me forget some of the pain I was experiencing. Being part of the Leadership Program was a great experience.

I believe all of us were able to overcome some of the pain and other obstacles that prevented us from thriving. Every day, we learned something new and valuable and brought joy to one another.”

– Hilda Raquel García Tzunún, leader of the Totonicapán rug hooking group

“The leadership program was so important to me. We learned about many topics, including some things I had never heard or dreamed of. Now I know I can speak and share about these experiences. Before I was a very timid and nervous person, and it was difficult for me to raise my voice, even to share with women in other artist groups. Thanks to the leadership program I am not afraid of sharing my opinion. I am grateful to all the people who shared their expertise during our workshops.

Thank you to Multicolores for always thinking of us and our development as women and as people.”

 – Tomasa Ventura Cúmez, leader of the Quiejel rug hooking group 

Tomasa's Leadership Rug

Rosmery's Leadership Rug“For me, the leadership program was such a beautiful experience because it helped us each to grow as people and build our knowledge. During those three years I met many people, like my compañeras, from whom I learned so many things about life. Getting to know them and their varied experiences was so valuable and I felt honored that they shared their story with me.

The butterfly represents Aury, because she led us through all the different topics and workshops during the three years of the program. Aury would always remind us that we are free: free to express ourselves and our true desires in the way we wish. At the same time, Aury was practicing these same skills herself. I know that the three years she spent with us coordinating all the program activities were impactful and positive for her personal growth, too.

Another of the important people in the story of the Leadership Program is Nancy, the psychologist, who I represented as a bird. Her psychological support was very helpful to me and the other leaders, because Nancy helped us understand that what we are doing is valuable and that we have value. When we felt shame or negative feelings, she was there to listen to us and advise us. She is a very special person—someone who has truly changed my life.

The deer, for me, has several meanings: here in Guatemala where we have the tradition of nahuales in Maya culture, the deer represents the idea of authority. At the same time it signifies humanity. For me, this blend of authority and humanity represents Judge José who led our Community Justice Guides trainings. José was a key person in our leadership program; it was inspiring to see that there are public servants like him who use the law with honesty. I admire his work and his personality.

Finally, the Maya glyph represents my heart. Everything that I have experienced and lived through remains written on my heart, and I am certain that my fellow artist friends will also carry this experience in their hearts.

In this beautiful rug I tried to express the beauty that was this experience: vivid with colors, full of birds flying like my fellow leaders. Finally, I thank the people who donated to make this program possible and wish you blessings always.”

– Rosmery Elizabeth Pacheco, leader of the Totonicapán rug hooking group

“This rug represents my story during the time that I participated in the workshops and activities of the Leadership Program. The birds in different positions represent us, the women who became ever more empowered as we participated in the workshops. The large flying bird represents the many highly trained people who shared their experience and knowledge with us during different workshops, so that we could develop our skills and become better leaders.

From there, I set forth, walking step by step, little by little, like a little bird trying to fly and growing throughout the program.

The flowers represent the seeds of my knowledge, wisdom, and intelligence that were planted by all that I learned. Finally, the large butterfly represents me. I feel very happy and very joyful to have had this opportunity, thanks to Multicolores, to participate in the leadership program during these three years. I learned many things, about important topics that have helped us in our lives, our families, our artist groups, our communities, to be able to exercise our leadership, to be a skilled leader, and finally to achieve our own goals and objectives.

Thank you to the people who presented on different workshop topics, you have helped me so much to face obstacles and be able to help others along the way.”

– Irma Raquel Churunel Ajú, leader of the Chuacruz rug hooking group

Carmen's leadership rug

“This rug represents the many people who contributed to the Leadership Program. On the left, the birds, flowers, and animals represent my compañeras, the leaders from other communities who are now great friends, as well as the many people who helped us by leading workshops and sharing their experiences. The bird on the right represents me, flying high and confident on my wings.”

– Carmen Maldonado García, leader of the Chirijquiac rug hooking group


Nicolasa dando la bienvenida a un tour


More about the Leadership Program: 

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