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.
Dec 27, 2011

KR Research Project on Rabari Ornaments

KALA RAKSHA MUSEUM PROJECT REPORT 25 AUGUST- 20 DECEMBER 2011
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. One aim is to revitalize traditions in contemporary ways through the museum’s inspiration.  

As artisans are inspired by the collections, they also contribute important information to make the collections much more valuable.  During this period, artisan involvement went both ways.

MAJOR RESEARCH PROJECT ON RABARI ORNAMENTS

Last year Thomas Seligman, Director of the Iris & B Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts in Stanford California, was so inspired by the ornament collection in the Kala Raksha Museum that he planned to return to Kutch to work with Kala Raksha in documenting Rabari ornaments.  In November, he conducted research with assistance from Curator Judy Frater for two weeks.  Dr. Seligman's expertise is in the ornaments of nomadic Tuarag people of Africa.  He wanted to compare the relationship between ornament makers and users in India to try to trace common origins.  

It all began with a Rabari anklet, which struck Dr. Seligman as very similar to one worn by Tuareg women. When he saw the same anklet in the Kala Raksha museum, he requested assistance in a research project.  His museum approved funds and he arrived in November 2011.

Dr. Seligman interviewed goldsmiths and documented their working methodology.  Museum objects are fully useful only when documentation accompanies the object.  The research provided an opportunity to refine the documentation existing in the Kala Raksha collections.  But Dr. Seligman found no information on origins or relationships with Rabari clients, the topic of his research.

Finally, when he returned to the Kala Raksha museum, he met with some of the Kala Raksha Rabari artisans from Bhopani Vandh village.  He showed them his book from the Kala Raksha library, and that initiated relating of the origin stories he was seeking.  The direct link to authentic information has always been the strength of Kala Raksha's museum collections. The artisans were able to provide important ethnological information that will enrich Kala Raksha's collections as well as Dr. Seligman's research. 

ADDITIONS TO COLLECTIONS

Dr. Seligman's research project provided another important benefit to the Kala Raksha Museum.  In thanks for the assistance we provided, he funded the accessioning of an important collection of Dhebaria Rabari ornaments.  Kala Raksha holdings include a complete set of Kachhi Rabari ornaments.  In 1995, Dhebaria elders banned all but a very few of the traditional Dhebaria Rabari ornaments.  Kala Raksha has wished to accession a companion complete collection of Dhebaria ornaments before the styles are forgotten.  With Dr. Seligman's support, we accessioned a major portion of the Dhebaria Rabari collection.  These in turn will be very useful for future research.  Some of the objects had previously been in use in the Kachhi Rabari community as well.  The Vandh artisans were so happy to see these traditional pieces that they each requested a portrait wearing the ornaments.

BOOK RESEARCH

Research for Kala Raksha's book on Kutch embroideries continues.  The book will highlight the Kala Raksha Museum collections. Research on Ahir embroidery is nearly complete. Work on eastern Kutch embroideries will resume early next year.

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA ARTISAN DESIGN INTERNS

The third group of Kala Raksha Artisan Designer interns has completed their term. Their collection of museum inspired bags was submitted in Kala Raksha's application to the 2012 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. Meanwhile, the collection has received a good response in the Indian domestic market.

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.  We have realized our first goal in expanding our collections and installing our second virtual exhibition!  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 Global giving website is easy to navigate. It makes giving so much easier,” Maryann Sadagopan, Global Giving donor.

THE NEXT PHASE

We look forward to adding to the Dhebaria Rabari ornament collection, which has finally been started.  We are also excited to complete the field work stage of our book on Kutch embroidery traditions and begin editing for publication with a highly respected publisher.  $795 would enable the final research to be carried out.
Two small collections of objects identified earlier:  an additional collection of Eastern Kutch embroidery, and a collection of women’s blouses are still on our wish list.  These are valued at RS 10,650 ($242) and RS 18,700 ($425) respectively.  

Having renovated our Museum Exhibition, we wish to revise our catalogue, which will make the exhibition information available to interested people throughout the world.  $1,000 would make publishing a new catalogue possible.

Dec 27, 2011

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA CELEBRATES ITS SIXTH WONDERFUL YEAR!

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA CELEBRATES ITS SIXTH WONDERFUL YEAR!

PROJECT REPORT 25 AUGUST- 20 DECEMBER 2011

The Convocation is always a time to look back and see what we all have achieved in the year. This was most certainly the Year of Co-Creation.

Lakshmi- "We took this course to be better prepared to serve the market. We learned to think in another way. Now we can do our own work, as per the market."

Jivaben- "The difference is day and night."

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA'S 6TH CONVOCATION

About half way through the year, someone commented, "It's all very well for artisans to learn design, but who is going to do my work?"

Our mission is to change that attitude toward artisans, and the best way to do that is through experience. This year, we collaborated with NID apparel students. It required discussion, sharing knowledge, and resources. Whose design was the result? It was a process, a co-creation! Both designers had to learn from each other. For this to happen, each person must acknowledge and respect each other's strengths. And Kala Raksha's premise is that an artisan's greatest strength is knowledge, not simply skills. Anyone can learn skills. It takes generations to learn a tradition. We are here to value and strengthen traditions.So what we achieved this year was creating an opportunity for experience, to pave the way for increased appreciation for artisan designers-- in addition to stronger products! When this is realized, designers can work collaboratively for the best product and the question of who is going to do whose work vanishes.

November 25-27th marked this year's Convocation Mela. The program began with two days of jurying by experts in craft and design, including Priya Kishore- founder of Bombay Electric, Radhi Parekh- founder of Artisans Gallery, Subrata Bhowmick- internationally renowned designer, Anuradha Kumra- head buyer Fabindia, Krishna Patel-faculty National Institute of Design, and Alison Welsh-faculty Manchester Metropolitan University (UK)

The jurying culminated in a fashion show inaugurated by the dazzling actress and social activist Shabana Azmi. Drawing a record crowd, the show was in important statement about the value of art and artisan.

The following day, graduates received certificates and awards were conferred. Miraben Poonam, who had joined the course with trepidation, received the award for best collection for women, while Hansraj Devji, a weaver from Bhujodi village received the award for best collection for men. Ms. Geetha Narayanan, Founder and Director of Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology gave the keynote address, stressing the importance of working locally and with respect for the natural environment.

A public fair drew people from UK, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Korea, and the USA. The artisans had a chance to test new collections on a range of buyers, made direct sales and took orders. Local, national and international visitors examined the collections and learned the importance of good design.

Over 6,000 visitors enjoyed local craft demonstrations, folk music, and of course Kutchi food. This was a wonderful celebration of the culture of Kutch, and creators and Co-Creators, the Artisan Designers.

INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

In October 2011 KRV Project Director Judy Frater was given the Ojaswini Alankaran Award for work in Women's Empowerment. Simultaneously, the article Empowering the Artists, by Annie Waterman appeared in Hand Eye Magazine. http://www.handeyemagazine.com/content/empowering-artists

Launching its plan to become more financially self sustaining, KRV recently held a workshop for seven students from Oregon State University in December. The workshop built on last year's pilot programs, and will earn the students college credits in the USA! The students took a four day tour of Kutch, and then decided the theme "Transition" for their collections. They spent four days working with women embroidery and patchwork artisans, and four days working with men weavers, block printers, batik and bandhani artists. The American graphic design students co-created collections of innovative scarves with the KRV graduates. They all learned new processes.

Christin- "I enjoyed the creative energy of working in a group." Danielle-"This was the best experience of my life so far!" Tod-"We learned so much more than in a classroom at home."

Bhagvatiben- "Working together was a whole new experience."
Champaben- "They learned a lot, we learned a lot- new products, new aesthetics. If they learn, we learn."
Zuber- "At home I procrastinate. Here, I learned to put ideas into production!" Irfan- "I learned enough for a whole new collection."

ALUMNI AND OUTREACH

The KRV design community is growing. The enthusiasm with which they practice their traditionsisthebestinsurancethattheywillflourish. Excitingco-creationwasclearlyevidentin this year's alumni fashion show collections.

Last year we launched the KRV website. This year, The Victoria and Albert Museum in UK contacted KRV through the website and are choosing several graduates to participate in a international exhibition on Indian design.

KRV women graduates have created a series of narrative works depicting their memoires of traditional life, and the rapid changes they have experienced. The exhibition, Fabricated Memory will be shown along with the work of seventy Italian art students from the Art Institute of Trento from 10 February 2012 for three months. The third group of Kala Raksha Artisan Designer interns made their final collection of stunning Art to Wear jackets for the Mumbai market. The collection was launched in Mumbai in December 2011.

Artisan Design Online

Find Kala Raksha Artisan Designed work online at www.equalcraft.com

Articles on Artisan Design have 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.

Kala Raksha is now on Facebook. And join a discussion on issues of craft and design on our blog http://www.kala-raksha-blog.org/

THANKS TO GLOBAL GIVING!

KRV succeeded in raising the funds to cover the academic year of 2010! The Indian financial year spans between April 2010 and March 2011, and our sixth year of classes is finished. To date we have received RS 2979,267 ($ 59,585), with two pledged grants yet to be cleared. This brings us close to balancing the budget for the current financial year.

KRV relies entirely on donations. 3% of 2011's funding so far is individual donations— equivalent to two scholarships. 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
Sustainability is still our challenge. Our program for entrepreneurial activities to enable

the institute to become more self supporting has begun.

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 expand its web of collaborators in Artisan Design!


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Aug 23, 2011

KRV Initiates Collaboration with NID

KRV and NID women
KRV and NID women's class

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA INITIATES COLLABORATION WITH THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF DESIGN KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA PROJECT REPORT 27 MAY- 25 AUGUST 2011

Since its inception, Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya has enjoyed inputs from the National Institute of Design. This year, we realized a small dream when for the first time NID students collaborated with KRV students in the fifth course, Finishing and Collection Development. This course is perhaps the most complex in our curriculum, as the artisan students collaborate with urban design students. The twist is that instead of the usual relationship of urban students getting artisans to do their work, at KRV the artisan designers "hire" the urban students to help them with product design. The course was unusual this year in that NID took it as a classroom project; so twelve NID students collaborated with the KRV students, on a one-to one basis. Athira: "It was a give and take relationship; we learned from each others' work."

YEAR SIX AT KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA

By now the students of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya’s 6th year have completed five of six courses. During this period, the women completed Course Four- Concept, Communication, Projects. LOkesh Ghai, KRV veteran, taught the course. He used a current fashion forecast as a Rorschach test, having the artisans each choose one they liked and interpret it with her own experience. RAW ENERGY was interpreted as the surprise of a solar eclipse. SOUL became local toys. SENSING MATTER became understanding manner (in making things) And MANIFESTO was reinterpreted as the art of the traditional line.

LOkesh made imaginative use of local field trips, taking the artisans to see potters working, ship building, and toy making. The trips infused the themes with meaning and enthused the artisans. As an added bonus, Miraben, a patchwork artisan, visited KRV graduate Shakil's batik workshop and chose the fabrics for her theme. This was an important step in encouraging the women to fully responsible for their work.

The fifth class, Finishing and Collection Development, was held in July. LOkesh Ghai taught this class as well. The NID and KRV students became acquainted by learning finishing techniques, including hand detailing taught by KRV women graduates. Then they paired in teams of KRV-NID students, and brainstormed about KRV final collections. In the second half of the course, the NID and KRV teams of students developed concepts. The NID students provided a range of possible products and the KRV students made final choices. With the help of Kala Raksha master tailor Rameshbhai, and input from NID Faculty Sanjay Guria they produced test fits and patterns. Surprisingly, home furnishings proved to be more challenging than garments. A trip to the nearby Rabari village Tunda Vandh yielded inspirations for some exciting new home ideas.

Dhanjibhai: "Sumegha made ten variations of a product, so I had more opportunity to play with motifs and layout."

Sumegha: "Dhanjibhai was very open to new products, and his knowledge of weaving helps us find solutions to what might be a craft limitation."

Hansrajbhai: "When I did not understand what Athira said, she showed me with drawing and I immediately understood."

The women's session was taught by Shweta Dhariwal, also a veteran KRV visiting faculty member. With President Miraben setting the example, this year's women's group was unprecedentedly diligent, working into the night on developing concepts, patterns, and layouts. Enjoying a one-to-one relationship did not ease the pace for the NID students either. Instead, they raised the bar for product development.

The final presentation was juried by Sonal Chauhan, faculty from NID, KRV visiting faculty LOkesh Ghai, and designer Ishan Khosla from Delhi. Critiques were aimed to bring the collections to excellence and additionally improve KRV education. Instilling responsibility for one's collection still remains a challenge, but it was interesting to note that this pertains to NID students as well as those of KRV!

Tulsiben- "Deviyani helped me a lot. I learned about pattern making."

Lakshmiben- "I really enjoyed working with Garima. I could not have dreamed of creating garments!"

INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The NID collaboration was an important pilot. It provided an opportunity to bring theory into practical application, and to experiment with how students can work together in new ways. Most important, it was a chance to experience how Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya can work with the National Institute of Design. The NID students were daunted at first by the rural campus. We realized too that they need more background on the craft traditions with which they will work, and next year, we will insure that the they make use of the Kala Raksha museum for inspiration. By the end, the urban students voluntarily stayed on the KRV campus an extra night. We trust this bodes well for our future and plan to meet with NID to discuss further collaborations in September.

KRV has developed a plan to become more financially self sustaining. Included are an annual major fund raising event abroad, workshops for international students and visitors, and the development and sale of educational materials, publications and films. Happily, during this period we received positive responses for all of these activities.

Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya has been booked for an exhibition at the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising, Colorado State University, USA for autumn 2013. This will give us ample time to develop a plan that includes sales of Artisan Designed products along with the exhibition.

Workshops are scheduled for a class of students from Oregon State University in December, a group from Austria in February, and two individuals in November.

In July we were informed that a long time funder will support the development of educational materials, which we plan to sell for revenue, and in addition will fund a pilot program to develop a system of offering royalties for artisan designs.

ALUMNI AND OUTREACH

This year, two KRV graduates, Sohel Khatri (2008) and Chaman Siju (2006) were accepted into the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. Very unfortunately, neither artisan was granted a visa to attend the show. However, the Market accommodated them by providing staff to operate their booths, so KRV alumni had a presence at the show, and the public response was very good.

Several gradates recently attended an exhibition held in Surat, where their design development was specifically commended.

KRV women graduates have been involved in several design projects. A group of Rabari women have created a series of narrative works depicting their memories of traditional life, and the rapid changes they have experienced. This will be shown along with the work of seventy Italian art students from the Art Institute of Trento from January 2012 for three months.

The Sumrasar suf and patchwork graduates are developing products to supplement their lively exhibition of textile illustrations of Gujarati sayings, which will be shown at the Artists Center, Mumbai from 19-25 September. Kala Raksha plans to publish a book of the works. Work on the project has taken longer than expected, so the first edition should be ready early next year. In addition, this group of artisans recently developed samples for an international company, and succeeded in earning the increased wages that they desired.

In May, the third group of Kala Raksha Artisan Designer interns made a collection of stunning Art to Wear jackets for the American market. The collection was purchased by the Peabody Essex Museum shop in Salem, Massachusetts in June.

In August, the interns studied the Kala Raksha Museum collections and began creating a collection of museum inspired purses, bags, cushion covers and table runners for application to the 2012 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. We anticipate a super collection.

Also in August, three young suf embroidery graduates began a collection of garments for the November KRV Convocation fashion show. Their designs will be the basis of the Kala Raksha fall-winter collection. Thus, our dream of artisans driving Kala Raksha design has taken another major step forward.

Artisan Design Online Find Kala Raksha Artisan Designed work online at www.equalcraft.com

Articles on Artisan Design have 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.

Kala Raksha is now on Facebook. And join a discussion on issues of craft and design on our blog http://www.kala-raksha-blog.org/

VISITORS

Through heat and rain, and despite our rural location, visitors reach Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya. During this period, we enjoyed useful inputs from NID faculty Sanjay Guria, and Sonal Chauhan, Delhi designer Ishan Khosla, and Christine De Baan, Programme Director, and Jeanne Tan, Project Manager of Dutch Design Fashion and Architecture.

THANKS TO GLOBAL GIVING!

KRV succeeded in raising the funds to cover the academic year of 2010! The Indian financial year spans between April 2010 and March 2011, and our sixth year of classes is nearly halfway done. To date we have received RS 737,233 ($ 17,145) with pledges for RS 462,500 ($ 10,755) This is nearly half of our need for the current financial year. KRV relies entirely on donations. 9% of 2010’s funding was individual donations—equivalent to over four scholarships. 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!!

Miraben- "When we go outside, look, pick the materials ourselves, we can express any theme."

Aziz- "What I knew before was 10%. What I learned at KRV was 90%!"

Dayalalbhai- "I have worked with designers for 20 years, but when you do your own designs, it is something altogether different."

THE NEXT PHASE

Sustainability is still our challenge. In just the last three months we have begun to meet it. Our program for entrepreneurial activities to enable the institute to become more self supporting is taking form. Response has been encouraging, and activities have reached to planning stage.

Financial sustainability is always a huge challenge for an educational institution. We welcome any entrepreneurial ideas –and ideas for increasing visibility-from our supporters.

Hansraj consults with Athira
Hansraj consults with Athira
Tulsi consults with Deviyani
Tulsi consults with Deviyani
Varsha and Nayan present their collection
Varsha and Nayan present their collection
Babra
Babra's prized collection to be exhibited in USA
Artisan Designs will support KRV
Artisan Designs will support KRV

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