Distributed by Collective Eye Films, 2305 SE Yamhill Street, Suite 101, Portland OR 97214; 503-232-5345
Directed by Cathy Stevulak
DVD, color, 88 min.
Art, Biography, Cloth, Fabrics, Needlework, Sewing, Teachers, Textiles
Date Entered: 03/27/2018Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
Kantha is a style and tradition of needlework, especially popular in the Bengal region of India and Bangladesh. Most often seen in quilts and fabric panels, kantha pieces are distinct for their intricate border stitching and storytelling motifs. Originally made by poor rural women for family members, nakshi kantha is now a sought-after art form that is displayed and distributed around the world.
In this short biography, the Canadian filmmaker profiles Suriya Rahman, a woman artist who designed kantha panels and taught the technique to hundreds of Bengali women over the past 30 years. Although she received little formal education, Rahman’s designs and teaching first at the Skill Development for Underprivileged Women (SDUW) and later at her own enterprise known as Arshi provided an economic livelihood for the artisans who produced the intricate and colorful tapestries.
The film combines interviews with the now-elderly teacher and some of her students, along with detailed photographs of kantha work each produced. The film introduces a fascinating domestic art form and an interesting personality to viewers. Recommended for art and textile studies programs.