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A man inspects and touches a tapestry work in progress: a symmetric, abstract embroidery in orange with multicolored embellishments on a light blue fabric.

Kazakh tapestry artist Zeynelkhan Mukhamedjan

Photo courtesy of the Union of Artisans Kazakhstan

  • Center Issues Call for Craft-Based Artists for Virtual Workshop with Kazakhstan

    The Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage is seeking artists for our upcoming 2022 workshop series, Makerspace Expands! Artisan Exchange, a partnership with the Union of Artisans Kazakhstan, Chevron, and the US Embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This three-part virtual series will conclude with an in-person workshop in Kazakhstan in 2022.

    This series will support participating emerging artists to build relationships, expand their international network, and work collaboratively through craft. We are inviting artists who work in the following crafts fields to apply: embroidery, fashion design, woodworking, musical instrument building, metalsmithing, and jewelry making. Artists who explore social activism through their craft are strongly encouraged to apply.

    The three virtual workshops will be led by teams of two crafts-based artists—one from the United States, one from Kazakhstan. These two artists will work together to design and lead a workshop that combines creative exchange and storytelling with crafts-based, hands-on activities to engage youth from both regions in the power of craft. Each team will be led by workshop facilitator Lesli Robertson and a team from the Center and the Union of Artisans Kazakhstan. We will lead you through the collaborative process, making this a simple and engaging experience for you, as you meet your partner, learn about each other’s work, and explore how you would like to collaborate on a project that you will share virtually in your workshop.

    After the workshops, the three teams will compete for the opportunity to meet in person in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for a full itinerary of workshops, community art projects, and more. Each team will write a one-page proposal and produce a short social media video piece outlining their ideas for a one-week, in-person trip. The proposals will be shared online and with virtual workshop audiences who will vote to select the winning team.

    Each artist must be available to meet with the team in a series of three to four virtual development meetings leading up to the hour-long workshop. Dates and times for all meetings will be determined by artists’ availability. All planning meetings and the three virtual workshops will be held January and February 2022. To be selected to travel to Kazakhstan, artists must be able to travel, at their expense, to one of the three Kazakh consulates in the United States to obtain a visa: Washington D.C., San Francisco, or New York City. Details about the in-person workshop will be available at a later date.

    Each artist will receive a $300 honorarium for their participation in one virtual workshop. Those selected to travel to Kazakhstan will receive a $1,500 honorarium, and all travel expenses will be paid.

    The series is an extension of our first Storytelling Through Textiles workshops held in June 2021 that brought together a creative, cultural exchange of artists from the United States and Kazakhstan. Participating artist Katherine Duiguid said of her experience, “The virtual format allowed a global exchange of ideas that would not have been possible otherwise. It was pretty incredible to share my work from my studio with participants and colleagues halfway across the globe. Discovering the overlaps in our creative process and influences and sharing those concepts with workshop participants was very special.”

    Kazakh artist Gulmira Ualikhan shared about her U.S. partner Diana N’Diaye, “It was so interesting and useful to meet a fellow artist from the United States, who shares the same values and vision. If I have a chance to meet Diana offline, two hours will not be enough for discussion!”

    If you are interested in participating, email folklife@si.edu with a short description of your interest and a link to your portfolio of work (this can be your website or social media account). The submission deadline has been extended to December 23.


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