August 11, 2022

St. Paul, Minn. (Nov. 4, 2016) — The Karen Organization of Minnesota will open the Karen Weaving Opening Exhibition from 4 to 7 p.m., Nov. 11, 2016 at the East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul, MN 55106.

The community is invited to this special showcase of traditional Karen art featuring weaving demonstrations by women in the Karen Weaving Circle and examples of their work. Learn about the intricate process of Karen backstrap weaving and the history behind this centuries-old art.

The Karen Weaving Circle was created by Karen and Karenni women who wanted to revive, maintain and pass on traditional weaving. They weave together weekly and teach this folk art to youth in St. Paul and Roseville public schools. Many of the women have been weaving for decades and are all refugees from Burma.

“The women are excited to share their art with the community,” said KOM Weaving Project Coordinator Laymu Paw. “Some of them have been doing this for over 40 years, so it is something they want to preserve.”

The Karen Weaving Circle is a collaboration of the Karen Organization of Minnesota, Goodwill-Easter Seals, Roseville Adult Learning Center, East Side Freedom Library, and the Weavers Guild of Minnesota. Currently approximately 10 women are part of the group.

Weaving is a tradition and valuable skill within Karen culture. Most of the women began weaving when they were teenagers back home in Burma or Thailand. Weaving was an essential skill back then because for many Karen people, it was the only source of clothing.

The opening exhibition will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Along with the weaving activities and display, refreshments will be served and weaving will be available for purchase. The exhibition will remain open to the public through Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  — excluding Sundays.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

The Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM) is the first nonprofit in Minnesota established by Karen refugees from Burma. Since opening its doors in October 2009, KOM has rapidly grown from a small volunteer association to a thriving service hub aiding over 1,000 refugees each year.

KOM achieves its mission to enhance the quality of life for all refugees from Burma in Minnesota by providing comprehensive, culturally appropriate services to help newly arrived refugees find housing, jobs, education, and other resources they need to succeed in their new home. KOM is also highly regarded as a partner and a cultural resource for other agencies seeking to reach this emerging population. To learn more about refugees from Burma and KOM’s work, please visit www.mnkaren.org or call 651-202-3120.

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