April 18 – June 7, 2023 • Mary Giles Gallery
Featuring the work of Asif Shaikh and his artisan studio
Textile Center is honored to host this special exhibit of work by Asif Shaikh, from Ahmedabad, India. As one of India’s most accomplished and acclaimed embroidery and textile artists and experts, Asif’s incredible embroideries, research, and writing create a bridge between East and West, old and new, tradition and innovation. His intricate and labor intensive artisan stitching “mends” a historic gap in Indian craft through his revival of Mughal (court) embroidery.
This collection of work from his studio highlights his leadership and influence in the revival of India’s textile heritage, focused on hand embroidery. Throughout his life, Asif’s work has developed with a highly refined and deeply held sense of aesthetics, steeped in detailed design and technical tradition. His dedication to the making of the ornate embroideries featured in the exhibition serves is testament to the social and cultural value of embroidery.
Born in Ahmedabad, a city renowned for its rich culture and textile heritage, Asif took up embroidery when he was about ten years old. At an age when embroidery was rarely pursued by young boys, Asif chose needle, thread and fabric over other interests. He explored a spectrum of traditional Indian embroidery techniques from different regions of India by learning the stitch himself, to build a sound technical foundation and fundamental understanding of stitch. Currently, his studio employs artisans who produce a range of embroidered yardage, which is transformed into garments and textiles. Showcasing a sophisticated juxtaposition of contemporary style and traditional textile techniques in stitch, motif, composition, and color palette, these textiles recreate the grandeur and fineness of India’s fabled royal textiles and attire, while reviving and preserving the tradition of Indian embroideries and supporting local artisans.
Reflecting on his sought-after works, Asif says, “Embroidery is what I live for. I will always immerse myself into this mesmerizing world because it gives me utmost satisfaction and happiness. No matter how fanciful, I love to give shape to an idea and bring it to life using timeless techniques with an innovative twist.”
Thanks to Mary Anne Wise for introducing us to Asif’s work and to Shelley Wells for delivering, curating, and installing this exhibition.