Artist Profiles

Artist:

Kanchana Yakkala

Region:

South and Central Asia

Country:

India

Organization:

DWARAKA PLUS

Media/General:

Textiles

Medium of Work:

Naturally dyed Kalamkari stoles, shawls, accessories and home decor

Year(s) Attended:

Santa Fe: 2018

About:

The not-for-profit venture DWARAKA PLUS (Development of Weavers and Rural Artisans in Kalamkari Art) was founded nearly twenty years ago in 1999 by artist and Bangaluru, India resident Anita Reddy. Along with her father, Dwaraknath, Anita founded DWARAKA as a means of providing training, funding, and visibility for regional artisans.

DWARAKA PLUS’s members are experts in the ancient tradition of Kalamkari, a medium native to both Iran and India by which fabric is patterned entirely by hand Historically, textiles are covered with patterns from the simple—stylized floral motifs and embellished bands or stripes of color—to the highly complex, which might include deities or mythological characters and elements. Other popular subjects are animals, like wall hangings which feature gorgeously hued peacocks surrounded by blooming flowers. This process uses organically derived dyes gathered from leaves and flower petals, among many other indigenous natural resources, to create the deep, complex colors used in Kalamkari. The artists of DWARAKA PLUS are also skilled in the art of book-binding, with hand-crafted journals and unique stationary among their most popular offerings.

In the early 2000s, Dwaraknath set up the Ramanarpanam Trust, which joined together primarily female local artists to organize and establish a community-based organization that would become DWARAKA PLUS. Intriguingly, Kalamkari artwork was traditionally done by men, so the opening up of the practice to not only include but also encourage female participants has been hugely empowering to the group’s members.