Colorado State University Gustafson Gallery Features ‘Journey to Sustainability: Artisan Development’ Exhibit

Note to Reporters: A photo from the exhibit is available with the press release at

A new exhibit in Colorado State University’s Gustafson Gallery features contemporary apparel and home décor products designed and developed using artisan handcrafted textiles from Guatemala and Peru. The exhibit, “Journey to Sustainability: Artisan Development,” features work produced by faculty and senior design students in the Department of Design and Merchandising and runs through Nov. 15. The exhibit opens with a reception 4:30-8 p.m., Sept. 12 in Room 318 Gifford Building, 502 W. Lake St.

Cultural textile artisans in Guatemala and Peru seek economic sustainability through access to the global marketplace. The goal of many artisans is to produce income that will allow them to live in their remote villages and educate their children. The products developed for the exhibit are all examples of items which appeal to the U.S. consumer and utilize hand-woven textiles and embroidery.

“One of the challenges for artisans is that they weave or embroider cloth very well based on their knowledge passed down for many years, but they don’t necessarily have the expertise to create products that are appealing and affordable. We are taking fabric that the artists have created and designing products that are marketable and sustainable, for example, wall hangings, placemats, framed art, apparel, pillows and jewelry,” said Carol Engel-Enright, faculty member in the Department of Design and Merchandising and doctoral candidate in the School of Education.

The concept for the exhibit was developed by Engel-Enright and Bonie Shupe, senior apparel and merchandising and art major. Apparel and merchandising students Averie Floyd, Cory Hibbard and Jeri Nichols-Park have also designed products for the exhibit.

Engel-Enright’s research is focused on design entrepreneurship and social enterprise. During her doctoral studies, she traveled with a team of MBA students from CSU’s Global Social Sustainable Enterprise, or GSSE, program to Guatemala to meet with artisans and assist the weavers and embroiderers in developing their art into commercially viable products.

Engel-Enright is co-founder of Vivodec, a new social enterprise in the New Enterprise Venture Accelerator in the Colorado State College of Business, with business partner Crystal Martin, a graduate from the GSSE program. Vivodec assists artisans with textile designs and then combines the weavings with sustainable materials in home décor products made in the U.S. In Guatemala, Vivodec partners with Maya Traditions Foundation which supports 180 Maya backstrap weavers in entrepreneurial development. Vivodec also uses hand-embroidered textiles from Maya women supported by Friendship Bridge which provides microfinancing and business development education.

Shupe interned with Clothroads, a Loveland-based cultural textile e-commerce business. Clothroads creates opportunities for supporting indigenous textile artisans worldwide and has provided many of the Peruvian textiles for the exhibit. She was introduced to the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco in Peru. The center was established to aid the survival of Peruvian Inca textiles and weaving traditions. Shupe is currently interning for the center, teaching design fundamentals of color and product design to support the artisans in developing innovative products.

The Gustafson Gallery is part of the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising in the Department of Design and Merchandising, College of Health and Human Sciences. The mission of the Gustafson Gallery is to foster educational engagement among students, faculty, alumni, and the Colorado community through exhibitions that exemplify creative exploration and scholarly inquiry in the discipline of apparel and merchandising. Gustafson Gallery hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Admission is free.