Balvina Huaytalla from Peru

Artisan Balvina Huaytalla

"This is a medium of expression for me to show the world how beautiful nature is, especially in the Peruvian Andes. I know it so well -- my roots are there, and my work depicts our traditions, customs and landscapes.

"I lived in the sierra until I was four. During the time of terrorism, we had to escape. We left our animals, farms and houses.

"I learned my art at an NGO workshop in Pamplona Alta. I wasn't able to study past fifth semester of middle school, so I thank God for this workshop. They made beautiful things in arpillería, a traditional Andean appliqué art.

"The first time I made an oven mitt, it was enormous -- large enough for Manolo, the tallest man in Peru who measures seven feet nine inches. A friend told me I should make the gloves small enough to fit her, and so I learned each part of this art. I want to show a style of my own.

"I want to share Peru's beauty so that it is never forgotten. For me, this art is a way of sharing what I left in Ayacucho, the lovely land where I was born, where I ran and played in the fresh air. I wish so much we could have stayed.

"My greatest challenge has been to make a good life for my son, the struggle to raise him by myself."

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