I just wanted to introduce myself to those of you who have had an interest in reWoven in the past and to those of you who are interested to know what the future looks like for reWoven.
This update is long overdue, but timing is something that can be difficult to determine in sensitive situations like this. Without further ado, My name is Mike Chapman. I am from Rochester, New York originally. I moved to Baku in 2010 as a humanitarian English teacher. I got married to my wife, Angela in 2012 and we moved to Baku and lived there from 2014 to 2017. It was a great time in our lives where we learned to speak Azeri fluently as well as developed a love for the people of the Caucasus. We had a strong desire to open our own English business and so in 2017 we moved from Baku to Marneuli, Georgia. Although I had met the Smiths a number of times while in Baku it wasn’t until this point that our families became close. Ryan and Lora became our closest friends and over the next year and a half we did life together. I fell in love with reWoven and saw how effective it was at not only preserving a beautiful art form but also at community development.
In 2018 tragedy hit and both Angela and I were completely devastated as were the many friends the Smith’s had in Azerbaijan and Georgia. One of the questions that quickly came to the surface was what would become of reWoven and the weavers who depended on the income generated by this business? It became clear that if anyone would step into the role of director it would have to be someone who could at the very least speak fluent Azeri and fluent English. I felt compelled to step forward and take the mantle for the foreseeable future. I did this because Angela and I wanted to see the Smith legacy continue as well as because we believed wholeheartedly in the mission of community development and preservation of this declining ethnic art form.
I, along with a handful of other friends, have been working hard for the last months. In this time we have been able to give the weavers of Kosalar and Karachopt 21 new carpets to work on. We held our first tour to Kosalar on May 4th (I will post pictures in a few days), and we are planning an exhibition in the Fall. A lot of great things happening in reWoven!
Although we are not able to say if this will be an interim role or a permanent role for us, what we can say is that we, along with a group of knowledgeable supporters, are committed to assure reWoven will have a future.
Please continue to support this project and its talented weavers! If you would like a beautiful carpet and want to give back to the people of this great country than please visit our website reWoven.net and take a look at our gallery. We can reproduce any carpet you find there in a few months time. Thanks so much!