Creating opportunities with block printing
I have worked with artisans in rural India for 30 years. Their incredible skills and sharp sense of humor inspire me to produce work that brings a smile to people’s faces when they see it. I work in multiple media like textiles, paper, thread, wood and metal, but most intensively in natural dyed, hand printed textiles with Chaubundi Studio in Rajasthan, India. I work on fabrics, t-shirts, sarees, scarves, and more. I often tell stories with the images I create, which spurs me on to create art for museums and cultural spaces as well.
Creating contemporary prints has helped me decolonize my mind just a little, meaning that I represent on textiles the things that I see in my daily life rather than abstractions or ideas imposed on me from elsewhere.
I have consciously kept my work affordable so that it can be accessible to a wider market, and therefore generate more employment. We are one of the larger producers of block printed textiles in the area. These days there is little production of block printed textiles in our vicinity, since the market demands production in such a rush that mostly screen printed textiles are made.
Working together for such a long period -- over two generations of the Chaubundi family, the masters of our block printing atelier -- has meant that we have been windows into each other’s rural/urban worlds and have helped each other create distinct styles and techniques of printing. Our work has deeply impacted all our lives, and given both sides a very unusual sense of confidence and comfort in both rural and urban settings.
See Meeta Mastani’s work in textiles at The International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico from July 12-14, 2019. For more information please visit www.folkartmarket.org.