News from the home front: Yoshiko just returned from a near month-long trip to Africa (Kenya, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire) with her husband, Herc, who was providing pro bono dental services as part of the Damazo Project/Clinic in Masai Mara (Kenya). Naturally, the trip was a combo of leisure-adventure and work (always an element of shibori teaching and research involved)!
In Côte d’Ivoire, in Abidjan, Yoshiko participated in the African Crafts Fair alongside Louise Meyer - the two representing and reporting on America's textile trends. Here is a brief excerpt from the formal report (scroll to bottom of post to download the full 1-page report).
A Cultural Report: by Yoshiko I. Wada and Louise Meyer
to Anna Maria Adamo, Deputy Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
American Day at the Crafts Fair in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Approximately 50 people from diverse backgrounds attended our presentations, which consisted of powerpoint slideshows on the American practice of resist dyeing techniques and hand weaving, and how they relate to African textile traditions. Y.I. Wada pointed out the parallels between Africa and Japan – of their ancient textile histories and how they each influence the worlds of design, fashion, and art especially in North America. Artists, craftspeople, and cultural historians in addition to the fashion industry and its consumers have been inspired by Africa’s aesthetics and traditions and want to learn more so they may incorporate African textiles into international art and fashion. Currently, there exists a Swiss cultural exchange initiative to bring annually two weavers from the Korhogo area of the Republique de Côte d'Ivoire (RCI) to teach in Switzerland and to send Swiss textile artists to RCI. Americans similarly are keen to participate in cultural and educational tourism in RCI, where the rich craft-music-dance traditions make for a worthwhile destination.
Wada also showed a film she co-produced on Japanese shibori dyers in a traditional center, a documentation of techniques practiced by aging artisans whose knowledge and skills may soon be lost. The film promotes the value of cultural capital while educating a global audience of designers and consumers of an oftentimes invisible / unrecognized / underappreciated value. The film also recognizes a trend towards sustainable practices in the design and textile industries, a movement seen across many sectors like energy, food, etc. Like Japan, America’s designers and many of its consumers are also keen to work/live with sustainable products. African craftspeople can position themselves to embrace the challenge.
Both presentations focused on making the audience aware of the important contributions Africa has made and continues to make in influencing world textile trends. L. Meyer elaborated on her professional involvement while under the employ of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in RCI. She was tasked with strengthening the artisan sector, especially in the north where cotton spinners (female) and weavers (male) have no other source of revenue other than through the production of woven cloth. ...
Both speakers emphasized the need for keeping traditions alive but at the same time creating new products, both of the highest quality. ...
Our presentation was arranged thanks to the initiative taken by Anna Maria Adamo, Deputy Public Affairs Officer of the US Embassy in Abidjan, and endorsed by Public Affairs Officer Sita Chakrawarti.
Download full report (1-page) from WSN website here
More on Louise Meyer: africancraft.com and solar cooking