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Alessandra Foletti

LATITUDES World Decor

Handcrafted ceramic jelwelry & home decor
Honduras

"This is an act of love toward women artisans, but it hasn't been all that easy."

"Art runs in my family: my grandmother used to paint, two of my uncles were jewelry makers, a cousin sculpts, and my mother painted beautiful compositions on silk. I was born in Trento (Italy) and my career in painting and ceramics began in Switzerland and Italy. I studied engineering in Switzerland, then anthropology in Mexico. In 1983 my husband and I moved to Honduras to work with the Lenca people and here I began an ethnographic research on their artisanal traditions, especially pottery. Thanks to the research I met many women ceramists, and I was able to publish a book together with Honduras' Anthropology and History Institute.


"Thanks to my previous ceramic training I was able to present to the country’s government a project to support their women ceramists. That's how the first organized production teams were born, and we were able to build the first workshops. 

"In 1998 I directed a program sponsored by ACTA, a Swiss NGO, to support the women ceramists who were greatly affected by hurricane Mitch. My experience with this project inspired me to start ACTA de Honduras as a private venture of a social character to which I'm personally committed to the development, promotion and marketing of Lenca pottery, as well as other traditional arts and crafts. Our venture keeps on growing, constantly innovating designs and products, and always committed to the highest quality. 

"As an artist and a designer, my role is to design the sculptures, jewelry, paintings, ceramic bowls, metals, woods and fibers. I’ve participated in several exhibitions in Honduras as well as abroad including Miami, Rome, Tokyo, Santiago de Chile, Zurich, Washington and Madrid. This is such a contrast to the way that I began in the art world, selling my paintings to pay for my studies! 

"In 1979 my husband and I volunteered to work with Amazon communities in Ecuador and during this time I met several women ceramists whose work fascinated me. This is when my work with ceramics began – you could call it the start of my never ending romance with ceramics! 

"The underlying theme of my work is the fusion between anthropology and design by rescuing traditions and renewing them under a contemporary vision so they may offer work opportunities that generate more income for these communities, and so improve the lives of women and their families, strengthen their ethnic identity, and empower them. 

"I continued on this path when I moved to Honduras. I've always been passionate about creating jobs and offering income opportunities to communities based on their rich cultural legacy and their skills in order to create beautiful functional items and strengthen their identities, especially of women. 

"The challenge is to achieve new productive activities thanks to an endless creativity… and limited resources. 

"One of the most difficult things I've done was making the decision to take a risk and start ACTA de Honduras. This is an act of love toward women artisans, but it hasn't been all that easy. We've gone through some tough times with no earnings and very few sales. I had resigned my job as a consultant, which was financially more stable, to dedicate my life to the design and production of different types of handcrafts, respecting traditional crafting processes and empowering the different artisan teams rather than creating my own business. 

"By 2007, when the market for exporting ceramics came crashing down, we were already crafting jewelry, so this allowed us to keep generating work opportunities. We must rely on creativity every single day so we may carry on. We need to constantly renew ourselves since others have taken to copying our work, and we also need to stay up to date with the latest trends. 

"My greatest dream is to create other successful collections, like Lenca pottery and jewelry, to continue creating job opportunities for women, which in turn improves their well being. I want to continue developing as a designer and an artist, creating objects with a cultural and social value – a message of hope to the world. 

"Pottery is a very complete art form. In the Bible, God compares himself to a ceramist who molds us. Jewelry allows us to combine ceramic with other materials since it is a very creative process and I love it. It's exciting to create something new and contemporary that has roots, celebrates and honors traditions, making them contemporary and aesthetically valuable. 

"Culture, history, traditions, nature, today's trends, the great artists of the past and the present, other traditional crafts – all of these are a source of inspiration. 

"When I look for women to join our teams, I consider their experience. Through our work together they have learned to appreciate the importance of the details, the dimensions, color schemes, and most importantly, quality. It's not as easy as it would seem since we work with our hands, in wood kilns, on the lathe or with the molds we make."



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