Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fiber Artist Elsa Sreenivasam

I met Elsa last February. She was teaching a stencils and silk screens class immediately following the silk paper wall hanging class I was teaching in Green Valley. We had lunch in late February and I discovered that Elsa is an Indian textile scholar and collector. She has also taught fiber arts at the University of Kansas and Iowa State University as well as being one of the founders of the Surface Design Association. Elsa is a delight. We talked for several hours that afternoon.

She loaned me a video she and her husband photographed that documented dyeing in India and printing with intricately-cut , wooden blocks. The video was very informative. It showed how the blocks are use and also showed a master craftsman making a block using a hand driven drill.

We had lunch again last Monday. Before lunch I went to her house to see some of her collection of textiles from India and some of her extensive collection of wooden blocks. I was in heaven. It was as if I was in a textile museum. The embroidery was extraordinary and the dyeing was sumptuous. She has many examples of bandhani, a complex, tied resist dyeing technique used to create beautiful patterns on cloth. Of course, some of Elsa's work was also on display. Even though I brought my camera, I only had time to take a photo of a few of her wooden blocks.

She is leaving this week to go back for the summer to Minnesota and for an exhibition of the Indian textiles from her collection at the Textile Center in Minneapolis from May 1 - June 6, 2009. If you are in Minneapolis during this time or can easily travel there, the exhibition should not be missed. When she returns in the fall, we are planning to have some play days in the studio and I hope to have some time to photograph some of her collection.

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