A visual celebration of women and international culture surrounded the CafÇ of the Americas on Monday.
The cafe displayed a collection of canvas scrolls for a project entitled Global WARM, sponsored by the St. Paul-based Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota. The collection, which features the works of women from Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala and the United States, will be on display until Oct. 31.
The Global WARM project celebrates the contributions of women in the arts. The volunteer-run project aims to develop connections among women artists and to use art to educate people about international cooperation.
“We serve a huge need in the women’s art community,” said Laurie Salmela, co-president of the WARM Board of Directors. “Being with WARM is a way of coping with that and making progress in an artistic climate that doesn’t support us.”
Dubbed “a message from women to the world,” the Global WARM project features panel squares on an 18 inch-high canvas, each painted by a different female artist. While artists continually add new sections to the scroll, the full collection currently measures more than 200 feet.
Most women used acrylic paints for their squares, but several incorporated oil paints, paper cuts, calligraphy and photographic collages into their work.
Rebecca Pavlenko, one of the originators of the Global WARM project, said Mexican women at different stages of artistic development gathered at a restaurant in Mexico to paint the project’s first scroll together. The women were so touched by the project’s goals that they placed lit candles around the scroll to honor it.
“It took away any kind of competitive quality they had between themselves and created a cohesiveness,” Pavlenko said.
The scrolls have traveled around the world since the project began in 1993. From China to Russia to Tonga, organizers send the scrolls wherever someone shows interest in the project. By charging United States artists $10 per inch to paint a square and soliciting donations, organizers were able to fund the scroll’s travels.
“There’s a desire right now to connect internationally,” Pavlenko said.
The collection of scrolls also includes the art of women from Japan, Russia and China, but the cafe’s display features only scrolls from the Americas. Inglehart said the missions of the Global WARM project and the CafÇ of the Americas work well together.
“Our idea is to educate the people about the cultures in North and South America. The art shows this in such a bold way,” said Jeannie Inglehart, cafe chef and solicitor of the artwork.
Inglehart said that in many Central and South American countries, expensive art supplies are difficult for artists to come by. With this in mind, Global WARM raised funds to donate canvas for the project’s artwork.
The CafÇ of the Americas plans to use a similar method. Each Wednesday in October, the cafe will provide canvas and paints for local women to create their own squares. These scrolls will be added to the collection, which WARM volunteers hope to someday take to Africa.
Although the scrolls had only been displayed for a few minutes, Inglehart was enthralled with them.
“Each picture is such a story,” Inglehart said.