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.
Mar 14, 2011

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA WORKSHOPS TO THE WORLD

Devalben gives thumbs up to workwshop student
Devalben gives thumbs up to workwshop student

KRV WORKSHOPS TO THE WORLD!

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!”

 INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

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. 

 OUTREACH

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/

HONOURS

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.

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 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.

Kari learns batik at KRV workshop
Kari learns batik at KRV workshop
Master Artisans share with KRV students
Master Artisans share with KRV students
Jivaben documents Bhuj bazaar
Jivaben documents Bhuj bazaar
Divya learns to see and sketch
Divya learns to see and sketch
Jasiben contemplates design in embroidery
Jasiben contemplates design in embroidery
Tulsi triumphs in first presentation
Tulsi triumphs in first presentation

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Dec 13, 2010

KALA RAKSHA VIDHYALAYA INAUGURATES ARTISAN DESIGN!

Monghiben at her final jury
Monghiben at her final jury

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.”

OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF ARTISAN DESIGN

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.

INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT

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.”

OUTREACH

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.

 E-Portfolios of KRV Alumni

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!!

THE NEXT PHASE

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.

Monghiben walks the fashion show ramp
Monghiben walks the fashion show ramp
Govindbhai triumphs
Govindbhai triumphs
Hinaben earns her certificate
Hinaben earns her certificate
Hariyaben addresses the audience
Hariyaben addresses the audience
Jayantibhai sells to Crafts Council President
Jayantibhai sells to Crafts Council President
article in Ahmedabad Mirror
article in Ahmedabad Mirror

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Dec 13, 2010

KR MUSEUM INSPIRED COLLECTIONS LAUNCHED

Artisans draw inspiration from collections
Artisans draw inspiration from collections

THE FRUITS OF KALA RAKSHA MUSEUM DESIGN WORKSHOPS

 

Since its inception, Kala Raksha has dovetailed the collection and preservation of traditional pieces our income generation work.  The Trust established an international quality Resource Center and 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.  Artisans utilize the collections to develop new collections with cultural integrity. 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 perpetuate and revitalize traditions in contemporary ways through the museum’s inspiration.  

During this period, sixteen senior design school students, ten professional curators from Scotland, and thirty women artisans actively utilized our collections to develop contemporary craft-based products.  In addition, numerous student and tourist groups visited the museum.  Although we do not yet have a way of tracking visitors to our online museum, we have received many compliments on the site.

KRV graduates regularly study the Kala Raksha Museum collections. Current KRV student Sajnuben Pachan was inspired by our ornament collection to create embroidered ornaments as her final collection.  She received the award for Most Marketable Collection and has already garnered numerous orders.

 In this period, 10 women Design Interns, sponsored with funds raised, developed new Heritage Collections pieces submitted in application for participation in the 2011 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.  The designs were developed using feedback from participation in the event this year, coupled with research in our collections. 

 In July 2010, Rutika Sheth, senior design student at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology began her diploma project with Kala Raksha to create a collection by combining Museum based garments with the developments of earlier Srishti students and KRV graduates. In November, she completed the project and presented it for her final jury.  The prototypes were then produced at Kala Raksha.  The collection will be launched, appropriately, at an exhibition at the premier Museum of Mumbai, the Chatrapati Shivaji Sangrahalaya  (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum) December 12-28, 2010.

Along with the contemporary collection, Kala Raksha is launching a new concept, Artisan Design, which will celebrate the individual’s heart, mind and hand. Artisan Design creates value for the integrated spirit of tradition.  This is the symbol of integration of concept and execution in craft—as is exemplified in the original objects in our Museum collection-- and of raising status of the contemporary artisan. It is a new fair trade idea—fair trade for the creative spirit.

VISITORS AND RESEARCHERS

Autum and winter are the peak seasons for visitors to Kala Raksha.  In November we welcomed a group of students from the National Institute of Fashion Technology. Curator Judy Frater introduced the group to craft traditions as well as our Museum.  Several students returned often in their two week stay to study our collection of Rabari ornaments, and use our library.  Later in the month, a group of curators from Scotland visited the museum under a new Cultural Connections Programme recently launched by the British Council to develop and foster links and cultural exchange with India.

 

As part of the Creative Scotland’s (formerly Scottish Arts Council) commitment through its Crafts and International departments to strengthening the network, knowledge and skills of curators in Scotland, and to stimulating international exchange and collaboration, CS enabled 10 curators from Scotland to visit India for approximately 10 days. The aim was to research craft practices in India within their cultural contexts, forge links with organizations and practitioners in India for future collaboration, and develop greater understanding of their work in an international context.

 The visit also intended to contribute to the development of Scottish Curators and institutions, and to encourage networks in Scotland with their understanding of diversity of cultures, adding value to existing programmes in Scotland seeking to broaden audiences.

 ADDITIONS TO COLLECTIONS

A group brought by Stephen Huyler, independent curator, writer and photographer, visited in November.  Stephen donated two books for the Museum library, and one member generously donated funds for a new library cabinet.  In December, scanned images from Judy Frater’s collection of archival black and white images from rural India were added to the image bank of the Museum.

RENOVATION OF EXHIBITION GALLERY

By June 2010 the structural alterations for our Museum Exhibition Gallery facelift were completed.  In October he exhibition script was finalized, and visual images were professionally scanned.  To create a sense of interaction and orient the viewer to embroidery traditions of Kutch, the exhibition script is structured as a series of questions:

 

1. What did the embroideries express?

2. Why Did women Embroider?

3. The Wedding Ceremony

4. How did they Use Embroidered Pieces?

5. What are Embroidery Styles?

6. How Else Did Women Decorate Themselves?

 

Mayank Loonker, a graduate and currently Faculty of the National Institute of Design, has mobilized a team to implement the exhibition design.  However, with the constant traffic of visitors, it was decided to postpone construction and to open the exhibition to the public after March. 

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 can not 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 raise funds for collections. 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

 Kala Raksha’s online Museum includes a virtual gallery for changing exhibitions.  Currently, Recent Acquisitions are displayed.  Plans for our second exhibition and underway.  Innovation: Re- Purpose, Re-Invent is scheduled to go live in February, coinciding with an exhibition at The Textile Museum in Washington D.C.: Second Lives: The Age Old Art of Recycling Textiles.  For this exhibition, and for the ongoing collection development, a small collection of objects to be acquired has been identified.  The total value of these objects is RS 16,800 or US$ 363.

new products developed from collections
new products developed from collections
Detail of suf embroidered jacket for Museum show
Detail of suf embroidered jacket for Museum show
Rabari hansadi from KR Museum collection
Rabari hansadi from KR Museum collection
Sajnuben
Sajnuben's embroidered hansadi in fashion show
Sajnuben with collection at jury
Sajnuben with collection at jury
article in Ahmedabad Mirror
article in Ahmedabad Mirror

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