Left: Nancy, Surendar, and Naina at the International Folk Art Market.
Right: Nancy and Patricia Stoddard viewing a Ralli Quilt.
Art can express the idea that we belong to a community. This past summer I was, without a doubt,
reminded that a community brought together by
art can be as vast as the whole world.
This gratifying revelation struck me during
Folk Art Extravaganza, our joint School Arts/
CRIZMAC seminar in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this
past July. Our thirty-seven eager participants had
joined us for almost a week of hands-on activities,
museum visits, speakers, and the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.
Our special guests, though, turned out to be the
highlight of our seminar. These were Pakistani
quilter Naina Valasai and her husband, Surendar.
Naina was representing Ralli Quilts, a cooperative
of women from her remote village in Pakistan.
Though Ralli Quilts has been represented for
many years at the market, this was the first time
one of the quilters has been able to come.
Patricia Stoddard, a modest woman who has
made such a difference in the lives of these quilters by promoting the sale of their work, brought
Naina and Surendar to meet us. Naina didn’t
speak English, but her husband did, so he translated for her.
This trip was the first time Naina had ever been
out of her rural, isolated village and the first time
she had been outside her home unveiled. I don’t
think the life experiences between Naina and our
group could have been more different, but that
did not matter. We were a community brought
together by quilts and an understanding of the
need to make something by hand. We belonged