Opportunity to Grow / The Sari Project

Opportunity to Grow / The Sari Project

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I can’t believe a whole year has passed! I am honored to have the privilege of participating in the annual sari competition again.  This year, the competition centers around re-inventing our saris into zero-waste garments.  To be honest, initially, I was intimidated by this prompt.  However, I took the opportunity to challenge myself aesthetically, technically, and creatively, and I believe I am all the better for it.

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After talking with Beth Shorrock (my teacher and AMAZING mentor for this project), we came to the conclusion that I needed to really listen to my sari, and that I should begin by cutting it apart and piecing it back together.  Four days later, my sari had been reduced to hundreds of rectangles in varying sizes.  I re-organized the rectangles by color and pattern, pinned them, and sewed them back together to make an entirely new textile.  Then, I started digging into India’s textile history and thinking about India’s history.  I thought about the impact of English rule and Gandhi’s bloodless rebellion, which allowed India to regain its sovereignty as a country.  After my research, the garment began to take shape.  I crafted a romper out of organic cotton and embellished it with thread embroidery.  The tailored silhouette of the romper, with its high-neckline and short sleeves, draws a parallel to western European dress during the Elizabethan era.  My new sari textile became a draped skirt, paying homage to traditional Indian dress and the spirit of perseverance in the face of adversity.

Even though I was initially intimidated, I am thrilled to have participated in the annual Sari competition for the second year in a row.  Going forward, I am looking forward to learning even more about India’s rich history and culture through this year’s Eye on India Festival!

– Rachel Hentrich

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Eye on India is a young and dynamic organization whose role is to serve as a facilitator and integrator. Promoting appreciation for diverse programming in the cultural landscape of Chicago, the festival’s uniqueness lies in its ability to create and inspire collaboration among various cultural, community and business organizations across Chicago and other cities in the US and India.

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