Maren Beck and Josh Hirschstein, with teen sons Ari and Zall, formed Above the Fray: Traditional Hilltribe Art in 2007 determined to introduce the weaving traditions and cultures of hilltribe Laos and Vietnam to a broader audience.
Over the years of exploring, they have had the unique pleasure of making good friends with many artists and their families. Stories and photos of the artists, hilltribe life, and the family’s adventures can be found in the Above the Fray’s Blog: On the Fringe.
Maren, who grew up in a house full of looms, has always loved textiles and color-play. After graduating from Wellesley College, Maren first visited Southeast Asia with future-husband Josh in 1984. She’s been smitten – with travel, hand-woven textiles, indigenous village art, and Josh – ever since. She also enjoys leading workshops on Lao and Vietnamese hilltribe textile traditions and sharing her passion for the people and their arts.
Josh offers support and advice, and manages the logistics of getting into, and out of, hilltribe villages. Josh began his career teaching high school English in Seattle and ESL in Kathmandu, Nepal. He received an M.A. in Education from U.C. Berkeley and shares his professional time operating a private educational service. Josh and Maren met in 1977 as ‘cello stand-partners in their high school string ensemble.
Ari currently attends Earlham College in Indiana – his assistance, cheer, and social talents are missed. Zall, Above the Fray’s photographer and “most-favored blogger,” attends South Eugene High School.
All text and photos were written or taken by Maren, Josh, Ari and Zall.