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"Women Helping Women: Stitch by Stitch" - Afghan Women's Collaboration
Rubia Logo, embroidered by Darrai Noor.

WILMINGTON, DE.-The WCA-Philadelphia has partnered with Rubia to organize the collaborative project, entitled: “Women Helping Women: Stitch by Stitch.” The project involved the creation of a quilt, which showcases the work of women from Darrai Noor, Afghanistan and over 25 American women artists from the Women’s Caucus for Art and Rubia. The majority of the participating U.S. artists are from the Philadelphia Chapter; yet, artists from New Hampshire, Florida, Oregon, Tennessee, Missouri, Montana, California, Louisiana, and Washington, DC have also joined in this collaborative effort. Joining the Wilmington Exhibit will be several large suzani, displayed by Afghan women’s fund. These large embroidered tapestries are fine examples of the culture of embroidery in Central Asia and its association with women, in particular.

The United States artists observed the embroidered motifs found in Rubia’s handwork, which include the poppy, the peacock, and the swirling sun as found on the Rubia Website ( Each square piece is an interpretation of a Rubia embroidery. The Women’s Caucus for Art Philadelphia chapter assembled the larger tapestry combining embroidery from Afghan women and each artist’s 10 x 10 inch piece to create an impressive and intricate tapestry.

“I am amazed by the diversity of work and techniques each artist used in this challenge. Some artists moved far away from their traditional mediums to express this interpretation with textile and embroidery techniques. The tapestry is dynamic and inviting to the audience, it is truly hard to describe in words” states Molly Crowley, of Rubia Inc.

“The outreach to the other chapters of the WCA was a new undertaking for our chapter. It had been a long time since we conducted a national show, and we were thrilled at the response. These Afghan women are extremely isolated, and it is so exciting to work with them and to raise money for Rubia to continue its programming to pay Afghan women a living wage for their art forms,” Bonnie MacAllister commented.

“I wrote a poem for the project, and I wrote of the women’s strengths. ‘With one hand she bastes, binding the tatters set forth for her. She can round off, truncate, confines, trim knotty spots others might skirt, seize Gordian tangles, effect brim or hem in her authority,’” MacAllister continued.

The show will debut at the Redding Gallery in the City County Building in Wilmington, DE. The show will then travel to the Grace Episcopal Church in Merchantville, NJ. Shows across the nation are pending approval as many artists wish to see the quilt exhibited their home towns. The quilted piece will be showcased at the DC Chapter’s Networking Day at the Arts Club of Washington, DC on April 5.

“I am excited to see Rubia’s work in Afghanistan welcomed by so many artists in America. The response has been fantastic. In this exhibit, we get to showcase a very different view of Afghanistan, the creation of beautiful crafts, the tradition of embroidery, and some glimpses at home life in Afghanistan. I think this is new to a lot of our audience, and yet there seems to be a very deep understanding, visible through the interpretations by American women.” Molly Crowley continued.

Rubia is a project of Social & Environmental Entrepeneurs (SEE), a registered 501(c) [3], which provides non-profit status. Rubia serves women in Afghanistan, offering education, skills training and income opportunities through the promotion of their traditional handwork. Rubia is committed to building sustainable business in a fragile environment, empowering women while respecting traditional ways, reviving and preserving traditional crafts.

As an official chapter of the National Women’s Caucus for Art, the Philadelphia Chapter supports and upholds their mission statement and by laws. In addition, the chapter is committed to creating a support network for women in the visual arts in Philadelphia and surrounding communities. The Women’s Caucus for Art Philadelphia Chapter strives to increase awareness and recognition of women in the visual arts through our exhibitions, lectures, publications and other educational programming.

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