Photos courtesy Khazana
For nearly three decades, the Uptown boutique and gallery Khazana (the Urdu word for “treasure”) has been sourcing vibrant textiles and artwork, clothing, and collectibles crafted by Indian artists. Owner Anju Kataria’s mission is to support traditional art forms, honor the history of Indian arts and crafts, and pay fair wages to artists and makers. Because COVID-19 has made travel a near impossibility, the tourism that often provides such artists with a steady income has decreased.
To support her makers, and foster connections between them and local collectors, Kataria is hosting a virtual gallery exhibition, “Tree of Life.” “An ancient symbol that represents nourishment, renewal, and human interdependence,” Kataria says, “it’s also the perfect metaphor for Khazana’s 29-year journey.” The event, she adds, showcases selected artisans working within and vitalizing heritage arts, while also “innovating to reflect the current moment.”
All of the works are available for purchase, with 100 percent of the profits going directly to the artists.
One of the makers, Rupa Trivedi, a former engineer, is the founder of Adiv Pure Nature in Mumbai. The company crafts luxurious garments, scarves, and table napkins using natural dyes (some from temple offerings such as roses, marigolds, and coconut, which would otherwise be thrown away) and natural materials. The pieces are also crafted via partnerships with handloom weavers and block printers across India.
Shamlu Dudeja founded SHE (Self-Help Enterprise) to revive the centuries-old kantha stitching technique. Today, the collective of more than 800 women artists receive income from their detailed work that takes shape as hand-embroidered silk and cotton scarves. Kantha evolved from the craft of recycling fabric into artworks depicting graphic motifs and scenes from everyday life. After kantha lost favor, Dudeja and Malika Varma and SHE infused the craft with renewed vitality.
Also in the virtual gallery are Kalighat paintings by Bhaskar Chitrakar, some featuring a Frida Kahlo likeness with cats; meditative kalamkari paintings on cloth by Kirit Chitara; and Warli paintings made from rice paste, charcoal, and black dirt by Anil Vangad. The exhibition closes June 30.
Left: Bhaskar Chitrakar
Below Left: ‘Justice for All,’ hand-painted watercolor, $395; Below Right: ‘Have No Fear, I Am Here,’ hand-painted watercolor