Art Speaks: Folk Embroideries of Kutch with Judy Frater

Thursday, May 18 , 2023 • 12 pm CT • Virtual, on Zoom

For decades, anthropologists have discussed the “great” and “little” traditions of India as a way to distinguish between established, mainstream cultural practices in urban areas (“the great”) and local customs and rituals found in rural spaces (“the little”).

In fact, the dynamic cultural flow between the city and village, elite and folk has invigorated India from ancient times until the present.

Drawing on 50 years of deep connection to India and its rich textile traditions, Judy Frater shows how folk embroidery traditions of Kutch in western India have absorbed and interpreted popular trends in urban culture to create distinctive, evolving languages of needle and thread from the 20th century to the present.

About Judy Frater:

Judy Frater is an Ashoka Fellow steeped in the world of contemporary textile artisans of Kutch, Gujarat, India.

Residing in Kutch for 30 years, she co-founded and operated Kala Raksha, a cooperative for women embroiderers; established the Kala Raksha Textile Museum; founded Kala Raksha Vidhyalaya, the first design school for traditional artisans; and reinvented the school as Somaiya Kala Vidya. She received the Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education, the Crafts Council of India Kamla award, the George B. Walter’36 Service to Society Award, the New Delhi Rotary Distinguished Service Award, and the Association of Designers of India Design Guru Award.

Prior to residing in India, Judy was Associate Curator of Eastern Hemisphere Collections at The Textile Museum. She authored the award-winning book Threads of Identity: Embroidery and Adornment of the Nomadic Rabaris (1995) and The Art of the Dyer in Kutch (2021). Her third book, on the development of design education for artisans, is currently in publication.

In 2022, Judy was the Interdisciplinary Artist in Residence at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and led an artisan tour in Kutch.

(Photo by Nevada Wier)

View the recording of the Art Speaks here: