Posted by:  Cathy and Len

Threads has reached a major milestone, picture lock.  We’ve finished editing and changes to the film’s story line.  Now we’re moving to the final but crucial part of post-production:  final music, color correction, sound mix, and making the masters for future copies of the film.  So there is still a lot to do, but the time when we can begin showing the finished version of Threads to you and the world is in sight.

We are thankful to everyone who has supported Threads over nearly five years.  Your help and encouragement has carried us this far and will get us across the finish line!

You can find the film finishing campaign at this link. Some of the friends of Threads tell why they have supported the project.  Please share this link with people who are interested in a film that tells the stories of unconventional women who followed a different path to economic self-sufficiency and that challenges some common views of Bangladesh.  There will be more stories from friends of the film in future posts.

Posted by:  Cathy

I am very honored to be presenting “Threads: the Art and Life of Surayia Rahman” at the Maiwa Textile Symposium, September 25 at 7:45PM on Granville Island, Vancouver, BC!  The Maiwa Symposium is an amazing series of workshops, lectures and events hosted each year by Maiwa Handprints.  I have long admired the work of Maiwa’s Charlotte Kwon, and her devotion to textile art and artisans.

Registration for the Maiwa Symposium begins on June 23.  I’ll be sure to post a reminder, and would love to see friends there.

Also in September,  I will be jointly presenting a paper on “Surayia Rahman: The Refining of a Domestic Art”  at the Textile Society of America Symposium, “New Directions: Examining the Past, Creating the Future,”  in Los Angeles with Professor Niaz Zaman of Bangladesh, one of the foremost authorities on nakshi kantha.  Niaz has known Surayia for many years and has been a strong supporter of the documentary film project from the beginning.  Niaz will follow her TSA presentation with ones in Seattle and San Francisco on other topics related to nakshi kantha.

Posted by Cathy and Len

Here is our latest newsletter, a Mothers’ Day tribute.  You can subscribe to the quarterly updates from Threads by going to the website and adding your name to our mailing list.  We do not sell or share our information.

Guest post by:  Julia Brennan

Woman embroidering kantha.  Surayia Rahman design.  Photo used with permission.

Woman embroidering kantha. Surayia Rahman design. Photo used with permission.

SURAYIA AND BARBARA — CONNECTIONS PAST AND PRESENT

I was busy chatting at a conference in 2012, when I was tapped on the shoulder and   introduced to a woman who had recently lived in Bangladesh, and was making a film about Surayia Rahman.  Was it possible, that the woman spoke of our Surayia?  The painter, the embroiderer of poems, that elegant and stoic woman who became a dear friend of my mother’s in the 1970’s. Indeed, my mother’s Surayia.  Hamdullah.  How life works with small mysteries.  Surayia, now in her 80’s, was in fact sending me a message.

My mother Barbara, lived in Dhaka in the early 1970’s, just after independence and a tragic destructive cyclone. I’ve no idea where Barbara and Surayia met, but it was a powerful and committed relationship. My mother deeply admired Surayia’s strength and dignity to support her family.  Her struggle to affirm herself as an artist, and proudly display or show her paintings. Surely they discussed Surayia’s transition to stitching storytelling cloths and providing cooperative support for other Bengali women.  Surayia found in my mother a safe haven, an intellectual equal, and a sense of humor and the irreverent.  I know they spent many afternoons at Barbara’s house, and they shared a love of poetry, and music, with Surayia introducing Barbara to Jasim Uddin’s epic poems.  Barbara gave Surayia steady reliable support, courage to create her art, and was a best friend to relax and talk to about the artistic energy of Calcutta, the tradition of Bengali kantha cloths, the rollicking politics of the day, and surely their children.  In fact, Surayia’s daughter, Sophia, herself painted an alpona for my sister Adik, which she still has.

Alpona painted by Surayia Rahman.  Photo used with permission.

Alpona painted by Surayia Rahman. Photo used with permission.

They were soul mates, and my mother stayed in touch with Surayia over the following 30 years, as she moved to Nepal, Paris, Mali and Washington, DC.  Surayia came to visit Barbara several times, both in Nepal and Washington, DC.  While I didn’t know Surayia well, as I was away at school or working, I heard about Surayia my whole life. She was a giant figure in my mother’s pantheon of loved ones.

When Surayia visited Barbara in Washington, she brought with her several small elegant embroidered pictures as gifts for my sister and me. Seen in the photos, they are miniatures or vignettes from her full story-telling nakshi kanthas. My favorite is the young girl, sari pulled slightly over her head, arm raised as she pulls the embroidery thread of her kantha. It is a kantha within a kantha, and it hangs in my textile conservation studio in Washington, an affirmation of my career and daily handwork. The other two are typically Bengali; a mythical bird and the often seen wide-sailed boats on the river.

Mythical bird.  Surayia Rahman design.  Photo used with permission.

Mythical bird. Surayia Rahman design. Photo used with permission.

Traditional Boat.  Surayia Rahman design.  Photo used with permission.

Traditional Boat. Surayia Rahman design. Photo used with permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1995 Barbara and Surayia met in Toronto, enjoying the grand children, the freedom of walking anywhere anytime, and catching up. It would be the last visit, as my mother died in 2000.  But daily I am reminded of their relationship, the beauty of Surayia’s kanthas, and the courage of two women who were destined to meet each other. It is a testament to Surayia’s magnitude as a living artistic treasure of Bangladesh that this film is being made about her. 

Surayia and Barbara in Toronto.  Photo used with permission.

Surayia and Barbara in Toronto. Photo used with permission.

 

Posted by:  Cathy and Len

Celebrate International Women’s Day!

Surayia and women of "Arshi."  Photo copyright by Anil Advani and Kantha Productions LLC.

Surayia and women of “Arshi.” Photo copyright by Anil Advani and Kantha Productions LLC.

Inspiration. Determination. Liberation.

March 8th is international women’s day. To celebrate with us today, pass along the story of Surayia and women of Bangladesh by liking Threads on Facebook or sharing the Threads website with friends and colleagues.

There are so many incredible stories to share.  Who inspires you?
Please tell us about Women of Inspiration around the world.

"Rain Making Ladies."  Surayia Rahman design, used with permission of the owner.  Photo copyright Anil Advani andKkantha Productions LLC.

“Rain Making Ladies.” Surayia Rahman design, used with permission of the owner. Photo copyright Anil Advani and Kantha Productions LLC.