Kala Raksha

Kala Raksha aims: to preserve and present cultures of ethnic communities of Kutch (Gujarat, India) through their traditional arts; to facilitate the transformation of traditional art into contemporary products by encouraging innovation within existing traditions; to assist communities in achieving economic self-sufficiency through cooperative efforts; to assist direct sale of contemporary arts, for entire local communities. Artisan initiative and participation are the pillars of our work.
Jul 9, 2012

KR MUSEUM ACCESSIONS QUILTS THROUGH GLOBAL GIVING

Deavalben with her home quilt
Deavalben with her home quilt

KALA RAKSHA MUSEUM ACCESSIONS HOME QUILTS

PURCHASED WITH SUPPORT FROM GLOBALGIVING

 KALA RAKSHA MUSEUM

PROJECT REPORT 14 APRIL - 8 JULY 2012

Since its inception, Kala Raksha has dovetailed the collection and preservation of traditional pieces with income generation.  The Trust established an international quality Museum of textiles and related materials in 1997. Two features of this Museum make it unique.  First, the Museum is based in the village itself. Artisans have access to and responsibility for it.  Second, artisans were involved in all phases of the development of the Museum.  They assisted in collection, were engaged in documentation, and consulted in the permanent exhibition.  The Kala Raksha Museum successfully proves the mutual benefits of involving communities in presenting and utilizing their own cultures.

The Museum is intended as a resource base for artisans, designers and researchers. Traditions embody the identity and heritage of a people. Increased appropriation of design intellectual property across cultures has resulted in a generic commercial ethnic look, as well as loss of knowledge of textile traditions.   Kala Raksha's challenge increasingly is to innovate within traditions, and to tell the story that makes cultural integrity more valuable. 

As the museum expands its collection into newer areas, and reaches out to new audiences, it extends its ability to do so.

ACCESSION OF NEW COLLECTIONS

This report follows a GlobalGiving Matching Day. We are delighted to see that these events really work!  The Museum Project received $250 (and hopefully some matching funds too), which enables us to accession the home quilts we earmarked in the last report.  As rural cultures change more rapidly that could be imagined, such art forms which have never been recognized could be lost forever.  Kala Raksha wishes to remain at the forefront of documenting and preserving Kutch textile traditions.  Thus we find an opportunity to add these exciting quilts to our collections, and to contemplate where this resource will take our contemporary production.

 The collection identified after the last accession, in March 2012:  home quilts of the Rabaris and suf embroiderers with whom we work, made us research on the Gee's Bend story of similar quilts from southern USA.  The quilts are an anomaly in the known textile traditions of Kutch. Made purely for the family, they reflect the artisan's spontaneous sensibility: simple, bold and intuitive in design, but with the finest workmanship invested in the quilting-- the hand, which artisans highly value. 

 Today there is no time, and little patience for such work. So, we decided to keep this wonderful collection as an inspiration.  The total value of the collection is RS 45,000 ($ 918).  When the Global Giving disbursement is received, the $250 will enable us to accession six quilts. 

KALA RAKSHA MUSEUM FEATURED

IN THE WOMEN'S COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT COURSE

Kala Raksha's collections enjoy exposure with our on-line facility.  Drawing on the experience of collaboration between National Institute of Design and Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya students last year, we decided that it is important for the urban design students to know as much as possible of the traditions with which they will collaborate.  At the outset of this year's fifth course, Visiting Faculty member LOkesh Ghai asked the collaborating M.S. University students to browse the Kala Raksha collections on line, and short list objects they would like to examine.  The four students then took a field trip to the Kala Raksha Museum to study the collections.  They returned to the KRV campus with enthusiasm:  studying objects brings appreciation. 

INTERN INSPIRATION

This year's Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya graduate design interns Damyantiben Shankar (2008) suf embroiderer, Sajnuben Pachan (2010) Devalben Pachan (2008), and Jivaben Rana (2011), all Dhebaria Rabari embroiderers, and Hariyaben Uttam (2009) patchwork and applique artist. also drew on our museum objects to create new collections.  Preparing for a major benefit event to be held in Mumbai in December, the design interns went back to our collections for inspiration for tradition based contemporary wear.  As always, they were clear that inspiration is not copying.  They made their own interpretations with wild twists.

 VISITORS AND RESEARCHERS

Although our high visitation season has passed, the Kala Raksha Museum continues to receive visitors-- dare we say more serious ones?  During this period  we had the honour to introduce our collections to Faculty Lili Hermann and two students of the Rhode Island School of Design, USA.  Renowned Fashion Designer Anju Modi also visited, as did Fellows from the international artisan support organization NEST.  Visitors have brought us benefits.  Thomas Seligman, who researched ornaments from our collections, advised the Christensen Fund to make their annual donation to Kala Raksha.  A National Geographic photographer contributed toward Kala Raksha's travel to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market in July 2012. 

BOOK RESEARCH

Research for Kala Raksha's book on Kutch embroideries, which will highlight the Kala Raksha Museum collections, will resume in August, when two contributors will be in Kutch.  We have established a deadline for the manuscript for January 2013.

THANKS TO GLOBALGIVING!

Kala Raksha Trust is self sustaining in its income generation work- a feat not even attempted by many non-profits.  However, the earnings from our income generation cannot cover the costs of expansion of The Kala Raksha Museum, which is the core of our sustainable, authentic work.  Generous donations from our supporters enable us to add to our collections, and host projects that utilize our rich resource. 

 Global Giving has enabled us to reactivate our museum work. In the past year and a half, we have been able to focus on the Museum.  It has paid off, and we are grateful.  We thank Global Giving donors for your support, and welcome financial contributions as well as ideas for ways to reach out and share our holdings with interested people.

THE NEXT PHASE:

COMPLETION OF THE HOME QUILT COLLECTION

Kala Raksha was pleased to begin accessioning the home quilts earmarked in March.  Six of eighteen quilts have been accessioned.  $ 668 would enable us to procure the remaining objects. 

Home quilt to be accessioned
Home quilt to be accessioned
Artisans study the collections
Artisans study the collections
Kuvarben with her inspiration
Kuvarben with her inspiration

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Apr 16, 2012

KRV BEGINS TO UNDERSTAND ITS MISSION

Salman Superman presents
Salman Superman presents

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA BEGINS TO UNDERSTAND ITS MISSION

"I didn't like the other school, but I enjoyed this school!" Sangita, class of 2012

"I learned to get inspiration," Jaishri, class of 2012

PROJECT REPORT 20 DECEMBER 2011- 12 APRIL 2012

Kala Raksha, Parkar Vas, Sumrasar Sheikh, ta. Bhuj, Kutch 370 001, Gujarat, INDIA tel. +91-2808-277237/277238 fax +91-2832-255500/250410

www.kala-raksha.org

THE LICENSE TO LEARN

Not long ago, Faculty members from the Manchester School of Art came to Kala Raksha to initiate collaboration. They showed our members the technique of cyanotype--- so old that it seems new. As everyone observed, a difference in Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya graduates was clear: they were open about their interest, and voiced their observations with excitement. We realized that one gift of the course is the license to learn! The good news is that Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya won an award for social innovation.

However, when we reached the stage of finalist and presented our project, the jury decided that our category should be changed from "education" to "livelihood." One jury member commented, "Why do you have to teach design to artisans? Companies have designers who come and give designs, and that way everybody earns." And so we return to the point from which we began: people see artisans as being able to do and not think, hands severed from the head. Most people understand them as workers. The extension of that concept is that if one offers design courses to those workers, it is not education but livelihood.

And this leads us to the ancient system of caste: Varna and Jati. According to the Laws of Manu, education of the working class was a sacrilege. Perhaps at a deep, even unconscious level this attitude persists. So we realize just how innovative Kala Raksha's approach to education is. Kala Raksha aims to deliver quality professional education directly to people with little formal education, but for whom the material is important and useful. It is an example of how the under educated can be empowered to extend and utilize their traditional knowledge and participate more equally in the contemporary world. And the reason why we offer this education is so that artisans can utilize their rich resources to earn at a more equitable rate than they will if they simply produce a company's designs. When we see the intensity with which our new students absorb all that they can from their experiences, we know that this is genuine education. The fact that the jury did not share this vision defines our challenge.

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALA begins its Seventh Year In January, Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya began its seventh year of classes. This year we welcome seven weavers, printers and bandhani artists, and eleven women embroiderers. As ever, these talented artisans embarked on a year of design education with great enthusiasm and high hopes.

Progress Observed For women, just getting here, being away from village and family is a huge and courageous step. After six years we realized that we no longer hear women complaining that the "wages" (stipend) we give are less than standard wages. They have come to understand education as other than labour work. They no longer feel the need to have a chaperone for young artisans to stay on campus. And they no longer say "we are uneducated."

Course 1- Colour, Sourcing from Heritage and Nature, was taught by National Institute of Design graduate Sanchari Mahapatra and University of Mumbai graduate Pavitra Shyam, KRV's new Project Leader.

Course 2 - Basic Design, was taught by Nita Thakore, fiber artist and educator, and NID graduate and designer Aditi Prakash. In just two classes we experience the transformative power of education. Artisan students have learned to see nature and their own traditions with new, appreciative eyes. As societies change and artisans become distanced from their heritage, our program assumes value and even urgency. This year's men asked probing questions while viewing our museum collections and discussing with Master Artisan advisors, wanting in a sentence what it takes a lifetime to learn. On completing his second course, bandhani Artist Sohail said, "We worked so hard on colour presentation, absorbed the material, and now when we start to work on Basic design, we feel we can do colour in our sleep!"

One benefit of our residential program is the extracurricular experiences that accommodate the academic and technical courses. The Vidhylaya prides itself in the barriers we break. This year, the men, Hindu and Muslim, are sharing one dormitory room, out of choice. They have already formed bonds that will extend beyond the year's program, and help them continue to innovate in their traditions. The harmony and support among the group is apparent. They call themselves the "Seven stars." Among the women, caste barriers are gently nudged, while age becomes a more effective divider. Aditi Prakash, who had not taught at KRV since 2006, was impressed with how the institute has grown. "I came to learn and be inspired," she confided. She observed that the experience of teaching artisans above all enables you to see them as individuals. By the end of Course 2, the women were enjoying the process of thinking before doing, were already confident in presentation, and could make jokes using design terminology- owning the meaning of terms.

INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT In January 2012, continuing with our plan for financial sustainability, KRV held workshops with Liz Williamson, professor at the University of New South Wales Australia, as part of an elective course at the the National Institute of Design. Teaching a course on Cultural Textiles at NID, Dr. Williamson brought NSW and NID students together to learn traditional block printing with KRV graduates at Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya. One student will return for more in-depth work. In the same month, Barney Hare Duke brought a group of 16 art and design professionals from UK who have keen interest in the 'Cotton Story.' At Kala Raksha, the group learned patchwork with KRV graduates to understand how the cotton story extends into Kutch, and to experience the end of the long process chain. In March, a group of artisans from an NGO in Rajasthan came to Kala Raksha on an exposure trip. They were all bundled in their colourful veils. KRV graduates from Sumrasar came to address them. Miraben, who had enrolled in the course last year with great trepidation, compounded by doubt from the community, confidently began to explain Kala Raksha, the design school, and our philosophy to the group. No senior staff were needed. Miraben and her colleagues held a lively discussion that lasted hours.

ALUMNI AND OUTREACH KRV women graduates created a series of narrative works depicting their memoires of traditional life, and the rapid changes they have experienced. The exhibition, Deserts and Mountains - East and West of the World, a collaboration with students of the Art Institute Vittoria of Trento, won a prize for peace dedicated to Giancarlo Bettiol. The exhibition was shown at Spazio Archeolgico Sotterraneo del Sas in Trento , Piazza Cesare Battisti from 9 February through 15 April www.trentinocultura.net/archeologia.asp Project Director Judy Frater conducted a number of lectures in conjunction with the exhibition.. She also inaugurated a series of discussions of issues in contemporary crafts at Dastkar Andhra in Hyderabad in January. 2010 graduate Khalid Amin Khatri held the first solo exhibition of a KRV graduate in the prestigious Artisans Gallery, Mumbai, from 9-11 April. The show was highly successful for several reasons. Khalid's work was acclaimed by the press and visitors, he earned well in his first solo experience, and most important, the show was a landmark as it succeeded in crossing the boundary between "craft" and "art."

The KRV website is progressing! Nearly all of the men graduate portfolios are uploaded. We now look for active interaction with the market. Under the able leadership of current president Juned I Khatri, , KARVADA, the Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya Artitsan Designers Association, is seeking appropriate market venues, defining policies, and planning workshops. The fourth group of KRV design interns, sponsored by the COMO Foundation, got off to a great start with products for a recent exhibition in Mumbai. New design enabled good sales despite the dates being soon after the previous show at the venue. The interns will now focus on work for a trip to the USA in July. A beautiful colour feature on Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya has been published in the March 2012 Marg Magazine In October 2011, Annie Waterman published "Empowering the Artisans" an article about KRV in Hand/Ey Articles on Artisan Design have also been published in three important online craft journals: Hand/Eye www.handeyemagazine.com 3 February 2010; Craft Unbound www.craftunbound.net 27 January 2011, and the Craft Revival Trust Newsletter www.craftrevival.org vol 110, issue 2 Winter-Spring 2011. Artisan Design Online Find Kala Raksha Artisan Designed work online at www.equalcraft.com Kala Raksha is now on Facebook.

THANKS TO GLOBAL GIVING! The Indian financial year spans between April 2012 and March 2013, and our seventh year of classes has begun. KRV succeeded in raising the funds to cover the academic year of 2011! We raised $72,309. Of this, 5% was earned through the sustainability program, and 7% was raised through individual donations- the equivalent of four scholarships. This year, we have the challenge of raising almost $75,000 to operate our program. KRV relies entirely on donations. Global Giving has made a substantial contribution. As one donor wrote, "The Global giving website is easy to navigate. It makes giving so much easier." Your generous contribution can help! You can make a difference in the lives of our very creative constituency!!

THE NEXT PHASE As KRV has focused on becoming more self sustaining, opportunities are coming our way. In the next year we will institute the sale of educational materials to raise funds, in addition to workshops for which we steadily receive inquiries. We are also planning a major fund raising event in the fall. Financial sustainability is always a huge challenge for an educational institution. We welcome any entrepreneurial ideas -and ideas for increasing visibility-from our supporters. And again we thank you, our supporters. With your support, KRV will realize its mission of relevant, genuine education for traditional artisans!

Sangita observes in morning sketching
Sangita observes in morning sketching
Hansuben and Chandrika work together on a project
Hansuben and Chandrika work together on a project
Hansuben final presentation course 2
Hansuben final presentation course 2
Miraben and Champaben address SURE women
Miraben and Champaben address SURE women
Khalid
Khalid's e- portfolio

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Apr 16, 2012

KR MUSEUM ADDS COLLECTIONS THANKS TO GLOBAL GIVING

New accession Ahir ghodiyun
New accession Ahir ghodiyun

KALA RAKSHA MUSEUM ACCESSIONS COLLECTIONS

PURCHASED WITH SUPPORT FROM GLOBAL GIVING

"The Kala Raksha Museum has shown me my tradition!" Soyabbhai, class of 2011

 KALA RAKSHA MUSEUM

PROJECT REPORT 21 DECEMBER 2011- 14 APRIL 2012

Since its inception, Kala Raksha has dovetailed the collection and preservation of traditional pieces with income generation.  The Trust established an international quality Museum of textiles and related materials in 1997. Two features of this Museum make it unique.  First, the Museum is based in the village itself. Artisans have access to and responsibility for it.  Second, artisans were involved in all phases of the development of the Museum.  They assisted in collection, were engaged in documentation, and consulted in the permanent exhibition.  The Kala Raksha Museum successfully proves the mutual benefits of involving communities in presenting and utilizing their own cultures.

The Museum is intended as a resource base for artisans, designers and researchers. Traditions embody the identity and heritage of a people. Increased appropriation of design intellectual property across cultures has resulted in a generic commercial ethnic look, as well as loss of knowledge of textile traditions.   Kala Raksha's challenge increasingly is to innovate within traditions, and to tell the story that makes cultural integrity more valuable. 

As the museum expands its collection into newer areas, and reaches out to new audiences, it extends its ability to do so.

ACCESSION OF NEW COLLECTIONS

This report coincides with closure of the Indian financial year. Thus we find an opportunity to reflect and examine the value in what we do.  Receiving funds ear marked for the Museum, since the posting of our project on Global Giving, has enabled us to focus on the Museum.  Consequently, the Museum has grown in the last year and a half.  Growth brings more opportunity and we look forward to using our rich new resources.

Two small collections of objects were identified after the last major accession, in March 2011: a collection of Eastern Kutch embroidery, and a collection of women’s blouses These were valued at RS 10,650 ($242) and RS 18,700 ($425) respectively.  With the Global Giving December disbursement, which was received in February, we were able to purchase fourteen Eastern Kutch embroideries valued at RS 20,500 ($ 418). In addition, with funds received from Kandla Port Trust for use of museum images, we were also able to purchase thirteen blouses and two additional objects, valued at RS 20,250 ($ 413). 

           

KALA RAKSHA MUSEUM FEATURED

ON THE KANDLA PORT 2012 CALENDAR

Kala Raksha's collections already enjoy exposure with our on-line facility.  This year, Kala Raksha was contacted by the Kandla Port, a Government of India undertaking in Kutch, to showcase twelve selected objects on their annual calendar.  Anticipating the book on Kutch embroideries on which we are working, we chose objects that illustrate the breadth of Kutch embroidery traditions. The large format calendar was released in January, and fees for the images extended our ability to accession new objects. 

 

VISITORS AND RESEARCHERS

One of the primary users of the Kala Raksha collections is the artisan student population of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya- as we originally envisioned!  This year's seven male weavers, block printers and bandhani artists, and eleven women embroiderers visited the museum during their colour course in January-February.  As always, the artisans were eager to see work from their own traditions in the context of a museum, where they were encouraged to examine and question.  Among the men we have observed in just six years a steady distancing of younger artisans from their traditions, largely resulting from focus on commercial markets.  Kala Raksha aims to re-introduce artisans with a new consciousness to the range and nuances of colour, pattern, and texture in traditional work.  During the men's session, Master Artisan advisors joined the program, sparking a lively discussion in which many questions could be immediately answered, and others remain as philosophical navigators.

Winter is our high visitation season.  During this period a number of individuals and groups visited the museum, including a group of curators and trustees from the Metropolitan Museum, the Rubin Museum, the Museum of American History, New York, led by Amy Poster and Graeme Hardy; a group of UK Professionals researching the "Cotton Story" under the guidance of Barney Hare Duke; Nevada Wier, National Geographic photographer.  Visitors came from Switzerland, UK, USA, Italy, France and all over India. 

Students and faculty from Pearl Academy of Fashion, Delhi, and interns from the Indian Institute of Craft and Design, Mumal Rathod and Shivranjani  Shekhawat, and volunteers from UK Bella Leonard, Sophie Gleeson and Lora Avedian utilized the museum for research.

 

BOOK RESEARCH

Research for Kala Raksha's book on Kutch embroideries, which will highlight the Kala Raksha Museum collections, will resume in May, when two contributors will be in Kutch.  We are firming deadlines for January 2013.

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA ARTISAN DESIGN INTERNS

The fourth group of Kala Raksha Artisan Designer interns began their term in March.  The interns comprise Damyantiben Shankar (2008) suf embroiderer, Sajnuben Pachan (2010) Devalben Pachan (2008), and Jivaben Rana (2011), all Dhebaria Rabari embroiderers, and Hariyaben Uttam (2009) patchwork and applique artist. The women will do art to wear jackets for the USA market.  Damyantiben and Hariyaben created new work for the March Mumbai exhibition, based on museum holdings.

The Mumbai exhibition, Comforters, highlighted tradition as one realm from which we derive comfort.  Kuvarben's cushion cover based on a museum piece, was used for the invitation and, as predicted, the heritage collections did very well.  In spite of having recently shown in Mumbai, Kala Raksha enjoyed brisk sales.  Good design based in timeless traditions is our simple, solid formula.

THANKS TO GLOBAL GIVING!

Kala Raksha Trust is self sustaining in its income generation work- a feat not even attempted by many non-profits.  However, the earnings from our income generation cannot cover the costs of expansion of The Kala Raksha Museum, which is the core of our sustainable, authentic work.  Generous donations from our supporters enable us to add to our collections, and host projects that utilize our rich resource. 

Global Giving has enabled us to reactivate our museum work. In the past year and a half, we have been able to focus on the Museum.  It has paid off, and we are grateful.  We thank Global Giving donors for your support, and welcome financial contributions as well as ideas for ways to reach out and share our holdings with interested people.

THE NEXT PHASE: GEE'S BEND IN INDIA?

Along with our Mumbai show, Kala Raksha held a special event: Art to Heart, the first professionally curated sale of contemporary artisans' home quilts. To raise capital for a new Medical relief fund, Kala Raksha drew on traditional and scholarly knowledge of Kutch textile traditions, and requested our artisans to return to their hearts and homes.  Art to Heart was the ultimate self-help project, in which artisans gave their most intimate household possessions: the quintessential comforters, made from memories of family and home.  Fortunately, enough quilts sold to raise the capital required.  Perhaps even more fortunate, Kala Raksha still has the majority of the collection.  Reflecting on the Gee's Bend story, we began to realize the value of the collection.  The quilts are an anomaly in the known textile traditions of Kutch. Made purely for the family, they reflect the artisan's spontaneous sensibility: simple, bold and intuitive in design, but with the finest workmanship invested in the quilting-- the hand, which artisans highly value. 

 These humble quilts were easily available.  But the way that our artisans hesitated to sell them now speaks volumes.  Today there is no time, and little patience for such work.  Artisans doubt whether they can do these quilts again.  So, we will keep this wonderful collection as an inspiration.  It still needs to be purchased.  RS 45,000 ($ 918) would fulfill this wish list item!  

Museum visit w Master Advisors
Museum visit w Master Advisors
Kuvarben
Kuvarben's cushion
R-60 Rabari gharanu from KR Museum
R-60 Rabari gharanu from KR Museum
Hasuben with home quilts
Hasuben with home quilts
Babraben
Babraben's home quilt

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