One of my first memories from when I was a little boy growing up in the highlands of Guatemala is of turning a corner and seeing a girl jumping rope. I recall the arch formed by the rope above her head and the way it merged with the flowers in the background. That image and others like it have stuck with me and have found their way into my dreams and into my weavings.

In the weaving illustrated here, the skipping rope transforms into a lily with images of twinned peacocks below and heraldic dogs above. I work in silk and mercerized cotton, sometimes using metallic threads.

Over the years my designs have become more abstract and much more complex. My larger textiles, woven on a 49 harness loom that I built myself, express the overlapping cultural influences of my life in Guatemala and in various parts of the United States. Traditional elements repeated in different forms connect with, celebrate, and preserve the culture of my childhood.

I incorporate symbols and figures, religious and secular, dating back to Mayan and pre-Columbian times as well as elements inspired by Native American and African textiles, European Jacquard patterns, and Renaissance tapestries.

Each hanging takes at least 100 hours to complete. It is a slow and repetitive process, but I find great satisfaction in knowing that this work continues a thousand-year-old craft rarely practiced today –– a craft that could very easily be lost in our mechanized and hectic world. I hope each piece I weave communicates my sense of this history and its value, as well as expressing the time, attention, and love it contains. And the joy!

— Armando Sosa

Editor’s note: Hopewell resident Armando Sosa, who came to the U.S. in 1993 at the invitation of his cousin, faces a decisive immigration hearing this August. His hopes of remaining in the United States were encouraged when he received the designation “Artist of Exceptional Ability” from the U.S. government. His tapestries are in the collections of the Newark Museum, the Princeton Public Library, Johnson & Johnson World Headquarters, the new Capital Heath Systems Hospital in Pennington, and in private collections.

His work is on display through June 17 in the Morpeth Contemporary gallery at 43 West Broad Street, Hopewell. Call 609-333-9393, or visit www.morpethcontemporary.com; or the artist’s studio: 609-466-3475 or 609-203-4457.

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