Ritu Agnihotri from India
is the artisan in the spotlight this week
"I'm Ritu Agnihotri, and to me, to have the ability to create is something I treasure dearly. I so enjoyed the drawing classes I used to take during my free time. I would sit quietly making my own sketches and paintings.
"I was born on September 6, 1961, which makes me part of a generation when fashion design was new to India. You could say I was one of the pioneers in fashion design, and what a struggle it was at the time! After graduating from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, I pursued my dreams with earnest. Now I specialize in textile design featuring a blend of embroidered work with strong print lines.
"What I enjoy doing most are textured prints, which are not the regular flat prints you find in the markets. I use traditional motifs from different regions in India, but I make them slightly different. It's not contrived, as I intentionally avoid drawing it out too perfectly.
"When I exhibited my designs in Calcutta, all who came appreciated what they saw. Through their comments I was aware they could tell my designs are somewhat different from what they usually see in the market. I also had an exhibition in Kenya with my prints and embroideries, and I realized I felt a connection with the rustic prints they make there. I am familiar with historic patterns, and believe the vibrant compositions in their woven baskets and fabrics can be related to the way we Indians use our colors.
"Just like I connect with the past, I have a deep bond with the prints I make, which are all done with linoleum cuts. I make the designs on a rubber plate and etch out my patterns, then take a paper impression. During those moments of creation, I am just quiet and at peace with everything around me, while inside I am vibrant with energy that gets transferred into my designs. It's an incredible exploratory moment. All the prints you see come from my initial explorations, which I transform into something you can relate to.
"I've made my prints and designed my clothes with a lot of passion and delight; I hope you enjoy wearing them."