From 2016-2016 Lalitha Shankar and Shamala Nandesha began to search for a handloom weaving community to work with in the state of Karnataka, where there is a long history of handloom production and design.
Khadi and handloom weaving are major skills in Karnataka. As artists, we are interested in the sustainable economies that the handloom weaving communities have established as a model – where design and innovation are honed within the geographical and cultural ecosystems of the given area. The handloom process has become an important design component of the process of weaving with the individual leaving their mark on the materials based on their own esthetic practice and process through working the threads as they weave. However, these ancient skills are being lost to technology and machines that are more viable in terms of time and money. Today, with the onset of the power looms, handloom traditions in cotton and silk are slowing disappearing, owing to the economics of the power loom over the handloom. As U.S. and Indian contemporary artists, we believed we could learn a lot from the handloom weavers, their process, how this craft fits into their way of life, the histories of their families and how pieces they weave tell their own individual stories. This project is about immersing ourselves collectively and culturally into a new and different world; to learn from each other, share our ideas and stories, and create an authentic exchange through a creative collaboration.
To see our photo documentation of our travels to various handloom communities in Karnataka – see our flickr stream Weaver Research.
After a year of research we finally located the in the village of Gajendragad, in north Karnataka, India, with two handloom weaving societies – Shri Adishakthi Kaimaga Nekarara Vividudeshada Sahakari Sangha Ltd., and Shri Banashankari Nekarara Sahakari Utpadak Sangha Ltd.
Weavers from both Banashankari and Adishakthi Societies, July 2016.