Posted by:  Cathy and Len

Cathy presented on the topic of “Kantha Reimagined” on October 9, 2020, at the virtual conference “Textiles on the Move”  based in Leiden, The Netherlands.  Jointly organized by the International Institute for Asian Studies, the Textile Research Center and the Tracing Patterns Foundation, the conference brought together scholars and curators from around the world to explore the theme of textiles transcending place and sharing inspirations across cultures.

Sandra Sardjono of Tracing Patterns first suggested doing a short video presentation on kantha, which encouraged us to review literature as well as our own notes and memories of discussions with artisans, scholars, curators and collectors about this art form native to Bengal.  Condensing years of scholarship into a short presentation was a challenge, but you can watch the result here (and on the IIAS website after October 15).  Tell us what you think.

It is hard to imagine, but kantha, with its centuries of tradition, was in danger of becoming a lost art by the mid-20th century.  The revival and reimagination of kantha was the result of inspiration and dedication of hundreds of people.  Artist Surayia Rahman and the embroiderers with whom she worked in the Skill Development Project for Underprivileged Women played a key role.  They tell their inspirational story in the documentary THREADS.

Of great importance to the revival of kantha was the effort of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to preserve the kantha collection of Stella Kramrisch, the groundbreaking art historian and curator, acquired during her years in India starting in the 1920s.  Photographs of kantha from the PMA inspired a new generation of Bangladeshi kantha-makers, who saw art to hang on a wall growing from what had once been considered a domestic craft.  The preservation of Bengali culture in an American museum, and its return to its homeland as inspiration for a new art form, is a great example of “textiles on the move.”

#WomenLead #Innovation #Artisan #Bangladesh #India #Textiles #Kantha

Kantha Reimagined

 

Posted by Cathy and Len

In this time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, watch an inspiring film.  The Bangla-dubbed version of THREADS is now available online for free for two weeks, until April 20.

You can see THREADS on Vimeo.com at this link.

সুরাইয়া রহমান ভারত বিভাগের পর তার পরিবার, শিল্পকর্ম, এবং প্রিয় কলকাতা থেকে বিচ্ছিন্ন হয়ে বাংলাদেশে গরিব মায়েদের গল্প বলার নকশা সেলাই শেখানোর মাঝে নতুন জীবন খুঁজে পান.

শিল্পের শক্তি আর সারা বিশ্বের নারী ও মেয়েদের ক্ষমতায়নের অনুপ্রেরণাদায়ক উদাহরণ, থ্রেডস আমাদেরকে একজন শিল্পী রিদয়ে ঘনিষ্ট এক যাত্রায় নিয়ে যায়, আর মর্যাদা ও স্বাধীনতার এক অগতানুগতিক পন্থার জয়গান করে.

Torn from her family, her paintings, and her beloved Calcutta after the partition of India, artist Surayia Rahman finds a new life in Bangladesh teaching impoverished mothers to embroider her story-telling designs.

An inspirational example of the power of art and the impact of empowering women and girls around the world, THREADS takes us on an intimate journey into the heart of an artist and celebrates an unconventional path to dignity and independence.

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The original version of THREADS, in English and Bangla with English subtitles, is available for rent on Vimeo On Demand at this link.

Many thanks to Tanveer Alam Shawjeeb and Dina Hossain for their work on the dubbed version, and to the Cosmos Foundation, the Mary Redman Foundation and many others for their support of this part of the THREADS project.