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NOVICA Artisan Wilfredo Herencia

Wilfredo Herencia

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Knitting is one of my great passions.

I was born in 1958 in Arequipa, a beautiful Peruvian city. I feel proud to be a part of this amazing region, filled with treasures. I consider myself a respectful person, a man who works untiringly day after day.

"I grew up in a rural district. My parents were from Cuzco and Puno, and our home was a loving one. They were the best teachers I could have had. They taught me to love the earth, to work and to study. To respect other people as well as the animals and plants that populate our world. Thanks to their efforts, with God's help I was able to finish high school. I then decided to move to the capital to continue my education.

"Life taught me to love Peruvian alpaca fleece and our wonderful textiles... to see, to do, to walk this path in life. I remember my grandmother knitting a geometric motif with very slender wooden needles and different colored cotton strands. It was to adorn a hat. I was amazed as I watched her work. Her fingers worked swiftly skillfully while she chatted and looked around her. That may have been what started it for me. What makes me want to continue is my lovely family. I'm so fortunate to have been born here and I want to share our rich heritage. For me, these are motives to develop my passion for textiles.

"Life is filled with difficulties and sometimes failures, but also with achievements and triumphs. There was a time when I sold my apparel and accessories in a specific market. But the moment arrived when almost no one bought anything. Peru experienced an economic crisis and devaluation of our currency, and the market was in free-fall. I was selling less than ten percent of what I'd sold the year before.

"This forced me to redefine my strategies and search for new places to sell my designs. For three consecutive years, I filled two suitcases with samples and went door to door seeking clients – not only here but also across the borders. I traveled by metro and train and overcame all kinds of obstacles, including language and many more. Finally, after a long time of persevering, of showing my art and what I do, I began to find buyers again. Mine is like many stories with a sad ending… this was only the beginning of a great new adventure.

"I formed work teams with women knitters who collaborate with me in the workshop. These talented artisans have a great passion for knitting and we all want to reach people worldwide with designs that are different. I want to grow together with them and improve our skills and knowledge of this art.

"Alpaca wool fascinates me. I love its quality and the designs I can create with it. To knit a sweater of alpaca is to knit history and life at the same time. Alpaca was used by our Inca ancestors, not only as clothing but as a luxurious and exclusive fiber destined only for the elite. We want to share this cultural meaning and history today.

"My art — apart from its good taste — adapts alpaca to our always-changing fashion and seasonal trends. I love creating patterns and shapes, combining colors. It's mesmerizing.

"My inspiration comes from our rich legacy, the Inca textile tradition that our grandparents brought to life many centuries ago with their colors, geometries, effigies, birds and animals. I combine these with the iconography, landscapes and colors of the modern world."