Collective Treasures

Collective Treasures

By Lena Bartula


La Huipilista is imagining a new season with exciting events and exhibitions that we hope will be live rather than online. But, of course, anything is possible. With Covid protocol in mind I invite you to a trunk show and sale featuring vintage, ethnic, and repurposed textiles from the collections of Tessa McKim and yours truly, La Huipilista, Lena Bartula.


It’s my honor to present McKim, a long-time dealer in antique and vintage pieces. With a degree in psychology and a background in education her true passion was traveling first to Southeast Asia and Nepal. When she set her sights on Ecuador she found the ticket price out of reach and settled for Guatemala instead. It stole her heart and changed her life. That was 40 years ago and she’s been buying and selling ever since. For this event she’ll be bringing the best of the best so don’t forget to mark your calendar.


If COVID protocol permits McKim will also present two short talks on the basics of the Guatemalan traje, or dress, each piece’s meaning and use in daily life. She’ll bring some examples from her private antique collection (sorry, not for sale) as well as a large selection of all types of traditional garments to view or add to your personal collection. Words like huipiles, cortes, chalines, tzutes, and tocoyol will have new meaning as part of everyday dress or decor for our homes. Her information will focus on textile styles, how they change over time, and how these changes reflect the history of social change in Guatemalan life. 


I’ll be debuting “Cushion Culture” a new collection of pillows I’ve recently made from ethnic textiles generously gifted by friends. A harmonious union is created by combining diverse weaving and stitching traditions in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama, India, Nepal, Africa, and Thailand akin to my contemporary huipils and imaginary garments. Therein lies the method to my madness. Have you ever found yourself on a long, arduous journey and couldn’t wait for your head to hit the pillow? Now imagine how it feels for asylum seekers from some of those countries I just mentioned. They walk thousands of miles in unbearable conditions hoping for a safety net in a welcoming country. I’m thrilled to tell you that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of these cushions will benefit ABBA House a migrant shelter and safehouse just a half hour from San Miguel. As a non-governmental organization ABBA House is staffed by volunteers with big and compassionate hearts. It exists solely to “offer a cushion” where and when it’s needed most. 


If protocol and city rules change, this sale may be changed to “by appointment only.” Please call 415 111 3039 for questions, details, and last-minute changes and appointments if needed.