South Portland, Maine
Ange has memories from a very early age of sitting near her (grandmother), with a circle of women and as a form of play, began modeling the women weaving baskets. Born in a refugee camp in Burundi and later moving back to her family’s country of origin, Rwanda, she continued to learn the art of basket weaving from both her nyogokuru (grandmother) and mama (mother). Five years ago, Ange made the decision to leave Rwanda and move to the United States. At the airport in Rwanda, Ange’s mother passed to her a package of grasses with a needle and thread, and sent her off with the parting words of
“Do not forget our culture.”
When Ange first arrived in the United States and was waiting to get documented so that she could work, she unpacked the grasses and began weaving baskets…. mostly out of boredom. Ange always thought of the baskets rather commonplace, nothing special… something the women of a village did. The baskets had an everyday usefulness.
The first baskets Ange wove in the U.S., she gifted to new friends or used to decorate her new home. Soon people asked her to make baskets for them and then others suggested that she should sell her baskets. Prior to COVID, Ange and another friend attended a few craft fairs where her baskets were well received. It wasn’t until Ange saw the baskets through the eyes of her new friends and acquaintances in the U.S., that her own view of the baskets changed. She began to appreciate them more and see the beauty in the woven patterns and baskets.
“I create baskets and earrings made of sisal plants and sweet grass using a needle. Whenever I am free, I design each piece with gentleness, skill, and love to achieve special and unique creations. I use half of the sales proceeds to support women and their children from my country to sustain themselves and fight poverty.”