In a country that is known for its traditions, rich cultural heritage and its exquisite handicrafts, artisans are deeply connected to the crafts that have been passed down in their families from generation to generation; truly being rooted in the past. In the 21st century market, there are several Indian crafts that have gained recognition all over the world but there are some that got left behind. With over 32 different crafts being practiced in the district of Kutch alone, beading is one that is often undermined. This presentation will discuss two communities that inherited beading as a craft tradition and how closely linked everyday life is to the craft. Craftswomen create pieces not only for themselves and their families to use but also to make a living. Unfortunately, beadwork has not been able to fare as well as some of the other crafts for the craftswomen of today to make a living, making it a craft that is slowly dying. How can it be brought back? How can it be encouraged? How can one spark an interest in the new generation to pick the craft up again? Maybe we can light that spark!
Anvi Shah is a textile artist from Pune, India whose creative playground is filled with colour and pattern. As a child, she spent a great deal of her time making strung bead jewellery but it wasn’t until her junior year at the Savannah College of Art and Design that beading became an integral part of her art practice. Her interest in beads as a material and the slow process of making is what drives her to explore whimsical organic textures and carefully constructed geometric forms. Her love and admiration for these fascinating glass orbs and for all things handmade brought her to Kutch where she is gathering a group of young beadwork artisans. She is working towards finding ways to promote the local craftswomen and to help revive the craft of beadwork in the region. She simultaneously continues to learn about the history of the craft and the relevance of beaded objects in the day to day lives of the craftswomen.