In January 2011, KRV held the pilot of a workshop program with international design students and faculty. Twenty three participants from Colorado State University, Kansas State University and Missouri State University participated. Fourteen Alumni taught day long workshops in their traditional crafts and the Vandh and Sumrasar campuses. As always, everyone learned. At the wrap up the students were impressed with the skill and knowledge that goes into each craft. Shakil Ahmed expressed his delight that urban Americans were so ready to get their hands dirty. The Colorado State University students wrote later that they felt their visit to Kala Raksha was the highlight of the trip. “We thoroughly enjoyed working with the artisans; it was a once in a lifetime experience!”– CSU students.
In February 2011, KRV held the second successful workshop with a group from Austria and Germany. The workshops take KRV a big step forward in becoming financially sustainable, and in addition open new markets for KRV alumni- teachers. It is a win-win proposition! We are ready to hold more workshops in the coming year. For information, please download our proposal http://www.kala-raksha.org/KalaRakshaWorkshops.pdf
YEAR SIX AT KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA
Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya’s sixth year began with a small but select group of students. For the women’s class, this is the first year that applications were open to artisans outside Kala Raksha membership. We were happy to receive three Rabari women who initiated application, and two more young suf artisans who are not yet Kala Raksha members. The Vidhyalaya enjoys a number of visitors while classes are in session. In the first men’s course, Mr. Paul Folmsbee, Honorable Consular General of the USA in Mumbai visited the class. He was pleased to learn about our unique design school.
KRV encourages visiting faculty to repeat courses as it helps to build the strength of our curriculum. Bishaka Shome has taught Colour: Sourcing from Heritage and Nature to the men’s section for the past four years. Drawing on her experience and her analytical abilities, Bishakha has improved the course each year. This year, she focused on understanding the difference between colour proportion and colour intensity, and added an exercise to demonstrate the effects of fibers and structures on colour absorption. She also contributed to our ongoing design dictionary project.
The men took a trip to Kala Raksha Center to study traditional textiles in the Kala Raksha Museum, and met with the KRV Advisor Master Artisans for a program discussing aspects of textile traditions. They visited Mandvi beach to observe the colours of nature. Colour theory inputs were tested practically in dyeing sessions. By the time the first course ended, the artisans themselves were impressed with what they had learned and done in two weeks.
Dhanjibhai- “If we learn this subject 5 years we will still want to learn.”
The women’s Colour course was taught by Stina Gardek, who had taught it in 2009. Stina also improved her syllabus. She added painting and coloured sketching to deepen comprehension, but focused on colour placement, which is the orientation of embroidery artists. The women also studied textiles in the Kala Raksha Museum, seeing traditions with new eyes. As time goes on, the younger generations of both men and women artisans have less grasp on traditions, making this exercise more important.
Then the group took inspiration from the colours of the Bhuj bazaar. The assignment of capturing colour combinations they liked made the use of digital cameras easy. During the final assessments, the artisans reflected on their initial KRV experience.
Jivaben- “We embroider at home. We come here to go forward.”
Jassiben- “I do traditional work but now I’ll do it for sale.”
Deviben- “I wanted to go ahead, to try. At first I wasn’t sure I would like it. I learned something and how I like it.”
For men and women alike, one key initial realization is the value of knowledge.
Hansraj- “Before, I knew red was red because my father told me and I believed it. Now I have knowledge why.”
Lakshmi- “I never saw colours before. I just saw a wall, a forest….I can see colours everywhere! We thought contrast looked good. Now we know why.”
Both the men’s and women’s sections of Course 2- Basic Design: Sourcing from Heritage and Nature were taught by Neha Puri, who had taken the men’s section in 2009. Neha’s exacting eye helped to instill in the artisan students the importance of seeing carefully and taking their work the extra mile. This understanding at an early stage will benefit the students the entire year. The men tackled principles of design in paper and paint. Finally, they examined traditional textiles to realize that most of the principles of good design were already used. The final exercise was to dissect a traditional layout and remix it, using what they had learned in the two week course. They left the class feeling full, but eager to translate some of their layouts into their own traditions.
This was Neha’s first experience with a women’s class at KRV. She learned the first day some of the nuances of the differences between men and women in learning styles. Surprisingly, the women work quickly, perhaps not worried about making the correct decisions, or tapping easily into intuition. Morning exercise and sketching classes were a welcome chance to exercise body and eyes.
Balance, texture, rhythm and movement were explored in paper, but the emphasis was always on bringing it back to fabric and thread. Exploration of texture led to an exciting realization of how simple variations can create new looks for the market. The artisans had to think and work, but in the end they realized that it was all there from the start.
Jasiben- “We did it, but we didn’t know it!”
Kala Raksha has launched its Artisan Design Concept in Mumbai in December and in Delhi in February. Both exhibitions proved that artisan designs are well appreciated. Products from all of the KRV graduates who participated sold well.
E-Portfolios of KRV Alumni
KRV’s a new website www.kala-vidhyalaya.org is growing. The portfolios are still under construction so visit with patience and anticipation.
Khalid Amin, recipient of the 2010 Best Collection award, enthusiastically responded to a suggestion to hold a solo show, and has developed an amazing collection of 95 stoles, each unique with his distinctive painterly block printing style. Look for further details.
Not to be outdone, the Sumrasar Sheikh women alumni have decided to begin now in planning a collection for next year’s KRV Fashion Show. This is very important first independent initiative from women graduates, and it underlines the importance this event has had in inspiring and motivating artisans to continue in design development.
KRV Films in an online Festival
Kala Raksha has submitted our films "Artisans Design! The Launch of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya" and “The Masters’ Voices” to Culture Unplugged online film festival. The festival will be live online til June 2011. See http://www.cultureunplugged.com/storyteller/Kala_Raksha
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. You can follow us at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=34302983925
And join a discussion on issues of craft and design on our blog http://www.kala-raksha-blog.org/
On 12 March, 2011, Project Director Judy Frater was presented with the Crafts Council of India’s annual Kamala Samman award, which honours outstanding merit in the handicraft field. At the meeting at the National Institute of Design, Ms. Frater gave a presentation on the achievements of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya.
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 begins. So we now must raise funds for the 2011 academic 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: “What was most difficult was making decisions. In two weeks I am more confident. When you climb stairs you see something new from each level”
THE NEXT PHASE
Sustainability is still our challenge. With the launch of Artisan Design we hope to develop new markets for our graduates’ work. This year, women graduates will produce an Art to Wear collection for the biannual Surface Design Association meetings in the USA in June.
We have submitted a proposal to a potential funder for holding the first of an annual fund raising event in the USA, and are circulating our proposal for workshops with KRV alumni. Initial response has been encouraging.
Financial sustainability is always a huge challenge for an educational institution. We welcome any entrepreneurial ideas –and ideas for increasing visibility-from our supporters.
CONVOCATION MELA AT KRV!
After completing the final course of the year, Merchandising, Presentation, our traditional artisan students prepared to launch their careers as Artisan Designers. Since beginning the institution, the infinite creativity of the individual has clearly emerged. When encouraged, each individual effortlessly finds his or her unique expressions. And they confidently articulated these to their juries. This year, Jury members included Subrata Bhowmick, world renowned designer, Shilpa Sharma, previously in charge of products at Fabindia, Amit Sinha, head of the Apparel Department, National Institute of Design, and Priya Kishore, designer entrepreneur and owner of the high fashion boutique Bombay Electric.
The new graduates walked the fashion show ramp with their collections, under the stars on our rural campus. It was a dream come true for many of them.
Monghiben: “My dream was to be in the fashion show.”
Govindbhai: “For years we have made prize winning pieces for others. This year, my father and I will submit an entry in our own name.”
Graduates received certificates and awards for Best Collection, Best Presentation, Most Marketable Collection, and Most Promising Artisan. Alumni Hariyaben Uttam (KRV 2009) and Shakil Khatri (2009) addressed the audience of several thousand with confidence and sincerity.
Sajnuben- “If we do something new we can advance.”
The Convocation ceremony was followed by a public Mela, in which artisans showed their work to local visitors and craft lovers from Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, the USA, France, Germany, Austria, Australia, Portugal, Italy, UK., and China. Over 5,000 people attended the two day event, and the graduates sold their new products. This year’s winner of Best Collection nearly earned the cost of his annual tuition! The winner of Most Marketable Collection recorded orders for domestic and international clients.
Bhagvatiben- “I couldn’t see the sea at night. I had to imagine—I used my mind.” And her husband said, “I am so proud of her, because she did not go to school, but she can think.”
The Mela included craft workshops and local music, with a grand finale of a concert of traditional music and the now customary “Sanedo,” which drew graduates, staff, friends and family onto the dance ground.
Hanifbhai- “When I came here, I wasn’t an artisan. Now, I am on my way.”
At the Convocation, we took the benefit of the presence of our Chief Guest, Ms. Kasturi Gupta Menon, Honorary President of the Crafts Council of India, to officially launch our trademarked logo, Artisan Design.
Innovation has always been an integral part of tradition. In traditional arts or crafts the artisan both conceived the product and created it. When the old relationships between maker and user broke down, design emerged as a separate entity. At its best, design- like art- is understood as the work of an individual, whose creative efforts are the most highly valued aspect of the product. But when concept is separated from execution, the execution becomes “labour.”
In order to reverse the trend of artisans becoming laborers, Kala Raksha started Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya. Here, we value the unique concepts of each artisan designer, consciousness and confidence increase, and the art aspect of craft re-emerges. Artisan Design emphasizes the aspect of the artisan’s thought. The Artisan Design logo will create visibility and value for the individual’s creative effort.
Artisan Design certifies that a product is an artisan’s own creative innovation. It celebrates the individual’s heart, mind and hand. Artisan Design also creates value for the integrated spirit of tradition. This is the symbol of re-integration of concept and execution in craft, and of raising status of the artisan. It is a new fair trade idea—fair trade for the creative spirit.
Continuing in its linkages with premier Indian institutes of Design, Kala Raksha is currently hosting two National Institute of Fashion Technology students for their diploma projects. Richika Pallavi is working on sourcing raw materials. This is a timely project, since one important feedback of the KRV jury this year was the need to have a good materials bank to encourage students to experiment with new materials. Smita Srivastava is creating a recycle collection, in line with our focus on sustainability.
Two of the KRV graduates who worked with the Srishti interns in the summer, Abdulla Khatri, and Zuber Khatri have submitted new collections for an exhibition in Mumbai December 12-18. The fabrics developed by Dayalal Kudecha and Ramji Maheshwari in the same workshop have been used for Kala Raksha’s current collection. All four of these graduates have now firmly established their independent businesses.
Shyamji Vishramji, KRV Advisor: “No one who has graduated from KRV has not gotten orders for his work.”
An Exhibition of Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya at the National Institute of Design
As NID celebrates completion of 50 years of design education, KRV has been given the honour to exhibit our five years of work for the NID Convocation, December 14-15th . KRV graduates will be present to discuss their work on display.
KRV will initiate a separate website which will host e-portfolios of the Artisan Designers who have graduated from Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya. Through the e-portfolios, Kala Raksha will facilitate contact to world markets for each of these artists. The contemporary market has a critical role to play in recognizing and honoring the spirit of the creator. With information technology, emerging artisan designers can be discovered by people who can value their work. The portfolios will be maintained on www.kala-raksha-vidhyalaya.org to be launched in January 2011.
Collaboration for Online Marketing
Another initiative is live in time for the holiday season. Through collaboration with Equal Craft, a socially conscious marketplace that provides world citizens with excellent world art, and artisans with true global market value and recognition, KRV graduates are able to sell their designs at www.equalcraft.com
The collaboration was developed through the Ashoka network. Combining age old tradition and the latest technology, Kala Raksha and Equal Craft are breaking social barriers. E-commerce makes it possible for rural artisans to directly connect with long distance markets. The fact that one can ask what is the difference between a quilter in Vermont selling her quilts on Etsy.com and Lachhuben Rabari selling her embroidered bags on Equalcraft.com says it all. The venture is leveling the playing field. In the way that Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya offers design education to artisans with no formal education, Equalcraft.com makes social networking possible for artisan designers who may not read and write.
THANKS TO GLOBAL GIVING!
KRV has made great strides in narrowing the gap between the budget and the coffers, and Global Giving has made a substantial contribution. In the second Matching Campaign, Kala Raksha received $2,850- more than three times the previous campaign. This almost equals two scholarships for our artisan students. We utilized these funds to balance the budget for the year. One person, YOU, can make a difference in the lives of our very creative constituency!!
Sustainability! That is our challenge. Our students are working toward their own sustainability. At the dress rehearsal for the jury, KRV alumni gave sophisticated feedback that proved Artisan Design is sustainable.
Anwarbhai Khatri, president of the men’s class of 2010: “KRV was the chance of my life. I know I will keep going with what I learned.”
Kala Raksha has submitted ides for becoming self sustaining to one of our major funders for feedback. This is a huge challenge for an educational institution. We welcome any entrepreneurial ideas –and ideas for gaining increasing visibility-from our supporters.
COURSES AT KRV
From April through August KRV held Courses 3, 4 and 5 of our six course year. Traditional Artisan students studied Market Orientation, Concept & Communication, and Collection Development. They have learned for whom to create, and how to shape their creations into collections of dynamic products.
To link Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya to the Trust, and extend KRV education, in April Kala Raksha began a series of day long design workshops for Kala Raksha staff. Our premise is that design is useful for everyone! Permanent Faculty members Dayalalbhai and Harishbhai taught the first workshop: color theory and practical application.
To link to other educational institutions, Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya hosted interns from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, The Institute for Rural Management, and the National Institute of Fashion Technology.
In May, KRV graduates Abdulla Khatri, Mohamed Hussain Khatri, Zuber Khatri, Dayalal Kudecha, and Ramji Maheshwari began a design project with Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology interns Malovika, Sunayana and Kimberly. Two of the graduates were on a financial aid program wherein they will partially pay their fees in kind. The project is important because it pilots our in-kind aid program. All will work together to design products for this year’s Kala Raksha collections. This will insure that the graduates utilize their education in creating new collections, and benefit Kala Raksha with additions to our existing product line- a win-win proposition!
Abdullabhai- “This was the first time I could really use what I learned all together. I made my own collection!”
In June and July, Deepali Gupta, a student of the Institute for Rural Management carried out a feasibility study for developing KRV post graduate studies. She interviewed many of the 90 KRV graduates extensively about their needs and desires, and worked with the top of the line IRMA faculty to create a curriculum for a KRV course in business management.
In June and July, Radhika Agarwal and Devanshi Sanghvi, two students from the National Institute for Fashion Technology worked with this year’s KRV students to develop the apparel for their final collections. The lived with the artisan students for a month, listened to their dreams, and helped them forge them into realities by creating sketches, patterns and prototypes.
Radhika, NIFT student: “It was an amazing experience for me to work at Kala Raksha! I learned a lot. I’m looking forward for more of such opportunities.”
A New Film From Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya!
This year, Kala Raksha completed a documentary Film Project entitled “The Masters’ Voices”. Funded by Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Seagate and directed by Nilosree Biswas, “The Master’s Voices” comprises six short films portraying the understanding of design though the voices of embroiderers of Kala Raksha, and KRV artisan advisers. The project holds important archival material. For a more widespread audience, the material was edited into one forty-five minute film of the same title.
Artisan Design Logo
KRV has developed a new brand, Artisan Design, to be launched this year. A logo was designed by the National Institute of Design as a classroom project. The brand is intended to raise awareness and value for the artisan’s complete involvement in creation.
Kala Raksha Vidhyalayaa Graduates Teach and Learn in the USA
For the month of July, KRV Graduate Harkhuben Bhojraj Rabari and her colleague artisan Meghiben Meriya taught Kutch embroidery traditions and marketed their designs in six cities of the USA. They represented the work of 90 graduates of KRV and 1,000 women artisans. Beginning with the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, they visited museums, college campuses, and textile centers. Sales totaled to over US$ 37,000.
Harkhuben: “I learned the value of our traditional work. People appreciate it and they like it most when it is made by our own hands!” (see attached report)
THANKS TO GLOBAL GIVING!
KRV has a long way to go before raising the funds we need to operate our school this year, but in just a few months since joining Global Giving, we have raised almost $950, including the generous match from Global Giving on Matching Day. We utilized the funds to complete our film, “The Masters’ Voices,” and toward the institution operational expenses. One person, YOU, can make a difference in the lives of our very creative constituency.
THE NEXT PHASE
Sustainability! That is our challenge. Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya would like to never have to search for donations again. To make that possible we are thinking of ways to become self sustaining. It is a huge challenge for an educational institution. We welcome any entrepreneurial ideas –and ideas for gaining increasing visibility-from our supporters.
Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya has interviewed 50 or 78 graduates. Analysis shows an overwhelmingly positive impact of the program on artisan participants.
• 100% of the students are of the opinion that they have learned something new in their craft and are completely satisfied.
• Nearly 34% have gotten employment have become independent because of Kala Raksha and the learning they received at Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya.
• 14% have increased their income by 50%.
• 20% have doubled their income.
• 4% have raised their income by five times.
• 4% have raised their income by ten times.
• 1% has raised their earning by twenty times.
• 28% of students are recent graduates from Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya and are hopeful for the future and about to start something new soon.
• 20% to 25% have started working on their own instead of doing job work.
• Nearly 50% to 60% have come in contact with and begun collaboration with other NGOs and Clients through Kala Raksha
Read the attachment for excellent quotes by graduates
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.
Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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