I stumbled upon a beautiful story about a Bangladeshi needle artist named Surayia Rahman who has spent her life helping hundreds of women escape from poverty in Bengal through needle and thread.
Nakshi Kantha, a traditional folk art quilt that is embroidered and passed down through generations. It was accidental. "I didn't plan to do it for women," she said. "They just started coming." And when they came, she gave them what they needed.
kantha tradition and elevated the embroidered quilt to a whole new level of artistry through her personal oversight regarding the quality of the designs, the embroidery and the materials used to create these amazing stories.
I first learned of her story through a wonderfully-woven story by Bianca DiBiase called The Accidental Saint on the HandEye blog. Go there and read this story when you have a few minutes -- it's worth your time.
Surayia is now in her late seventies and her health no longer allows her to embroider. There is an effort underway led by Cathy Stevulak and her husband Leonard Hill, friends of Surayia's, to locate and catologue Surayia's work and to produce a documentary of her life's story. You can read more about their efforts at their web site Kantha Threads. They need assistance in raising money and awareness so that this project will become a reality and Surayia's legacy will not be lost. They also have a mailing list for you to join if you are interesting in following and learning more of Surayia's story.
Anil Advani who I believe did a magical job of capturing images that told a story. As someone who struggles to capture my love for needle and thread with my images, I believe I have stumbled upon a master and I am grateful to her for allowing me to share her pictures with you.
Coincidentally for me, there is a current exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz and the Stella Kramrisch Collections through July 25, 2010. If you can't get there, there is an online gallery of the 43 kantha on their website for you to explore.
"Life gives the story." Surayia said to Bianca as she interviewed her.
Indeed it does.