Baroda, Gujarat- The Chakali Project

The Gujarati word for sparrow is chakali. This is a linoleum block print of a chakali:
I made 100 of these prints while I was an Artist-in-Residence at Chhaap Foundation for Printmaking Trust.
I dyed them in turmeric,
then had them stuffed and sewn up.vrijeshchakali
Meanwhile, through an introduction by the organization Koshish Milap, I was conducting art workshops at a nearby school.collageclass
This extraordinary little one-room school was also a clinic in the evening.
The mission of Koshish Milap, headed by Drs. Kishor and Varsha Mistry, is to educate and provide healthcare to the ‘slum’ community of Muj Mahuda.
There are over 750 families in Muj Mahuda that use these medical and educational services.
The children loved making collages.
The word spread about their talent and enthusiasm, and the Times of India wrote an article about their good work!
I thought we could collaborate on the subject of chakalis…
They made some excellent collage birds,
I mean, really excellent…
and loaned them to me for an exhibit at Chhaap.
In exchange, all 50 students received one Chakali.
You can have one, too!

photo credits: Shannon Holman


Scrap Potential- Scavenging in India

scrap potential
Many folks ask where I find my materials to make collages.
Here are some scraps, sources and experiences from my last trip to India.
While an Artist-In-residence at Chhaap Foundation for Printmaking Trust in Baroda, Gujarat, I used a batter of coffee grounds and tea leaves, bindi powder, turmeric, and Celluclay (a dried paper pulp) to experiment with paper sculpture. The texture was made with a fork.

turmeric paper
Some of this paper I’ve paired with old portraits:


agni sati
These were found at the exquisite ‘Friday Market’ on the outskirts of Baroda.
friday market
This is a sprawling maze of live goats, tin charms, chai carts, torn saris, wooden game pieces, broken toys and, most lovely for me, old photographs.
friday market photos

tea cartfearfully
bombay red
love marriage
Scavenging for mid-century photographic ephemera outside of The States is quite challenging, our Kodachrome generation being unparalleled, so this particular market was really a gem. (On a side note however, it seems India’s snapshot culture of today is certainly catching up).

The upcycling at Friday Market also deserves some attention. Here are some wonderful hand-stitched oil-can cozies:
oil cans
I experimented with using some of the found objects as stamps, such as these keys:
Moving South, in Fort Cochi, Kerala, I picked out some paper goods at Junk Junction (Kumbarramukku, if memory serves).. Looking through newspapers, game cards, old books and ledgers, this passerby wanted to document a dusty picture of a famous 70’s movie star:
junk junction
The language there, Malayalam, has a beautiful alphabet, and I was quite inspired by it.
Malayalam ana
I was in India for a number of teaching projects, as well as dumpster diving, and the scraps came in handy for those, too. In this bookmaking workshop at Chhaap, students rummaged through a rag bag donated by a local fashion designer, Rupali. They used the pieces to customize their book covers.

It was an honor to have Jyoti Bhatt, one of India’s most renowned artists and photographer of Indian ephemeral art, among my students.
book making
In a nearby school run by the organization Koshish Milap, I brought in scraps of handmade paper and fabric in all colors and shapes. It was a great ice-breaker for them to teach me the colors in Gujarati (new to me), and having a full-spectrum palette easily accessible helped them to jump right in and start collaging (new to them).
The kids were overjoyed and seemingly not intimidated at the process of building their own beautiful compositions out of scraps.
collage birds

Thanks again, India, for all the inspiration and generosity. See you next time.