Design Studies 527: Presentations by students from Global Artisans – Isthmus

press release: This spring semester, Judy Frater is the Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence for the Arts Division at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Judy Frater is a curator, author and school principal who has lived for 30 years in the Kutch region of northwestern India. An award-winning Ashoka Scholar, she founded a design school for artisans currently operating as Somaiya Kala Vidya and co-founded the Kala Raksha Trust and Museum. The residency is hosted by the Department of Design Studies with Professor Jenny Angus as head teacher.

During the spring semester, Frater teaches a 3-credit course “Cultural Diversity, Connection, Value, Sustainability – The Role of Craftsmanship” (Design Studies 527: Global Artisans). Students in the course, who specialize in textiles and fashion design, interior architecture, agricultural and life sciences, biomedical engineering and industrial engineering, learn important issues concerning small-scale craft production. scale, value and sustainability. By working with artisan partners, they develop valuable skills in craft techniques, design, quality control, branding, collaboration, empathy and storytelling. Artisan designers Kutch Adil Mustak Khatri, Zakiya Adil Khatri, Irfan Anwar Khatri and Prakash Naran Siju virtually co-taught studio craft sessions on weaving, block printing and natural dyes, bandhani (Shibori) and Suf embroidery and coordinated artisans in partnership with students in the co-design segment.

Throughout the residency, the Center for Design and Material Culture (CDMC) at UW-Madison was a key support. Students explored the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection (HLATC) and referenced certain textiles from the collection as inspiration for their co-designs. HLATC’s textiles and co-designed products will be on display in the “Coming Together: Culturally Inspired Creation” exhibition at April 20-May 27, 2022 at CDMC’s Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery (1235 Nancy Nicholas Hall). The next residencies and partner events are in progress April 14, April 30 and May 3. See below for more information.

Coming Together: Culturally Inspirational Creation is a collaboration between traditional textile designers from the Kutch region in northwestern India and the group of 15 students of the course. Students learned about Indian textile traditions through the co-faculty of craft designers and through the Helen Louise Allen textile collection. They developed concepts collaboratively through a co-design process that involved learning from their partners and their businesses. In addition to design skills, the process required excellent communication, empathy and respect, which made it possible to appreciate everyone’s strengths and knowledge. The co-designed textile collection reflects the approaches of all the co-designers. There will be around 45 textiles on display in the exhibition.

“It was a pleasure to explore the challenge of valuing craftsmanship in the contemporary world, and the importance of respect and collaboration with this group of thoughtful students, our insightful co-faculty of artisan designers and the CDMC team. In some ways, it’s an exploration of the value of humanity in a world where that seems to be eroding. I can’t wait to see this rich semester Come together in our exhibition! says Judy Frater.

Here are additional quotes from some Indian artisans:

“I was able to try a difficult double-sided tapestry weave (using three shuttles) that I had always wanted to do. I will take advantage of this technique in the future. – Bharat Vershi Jepar, weaver

“My co-design partner came from a background unfamiliar with textiles and crafts. I learned how people from other walks of life look at craftsmanship. – Adil Mustak Khatri, Bandhani artist

“In co-design, two different minds and personalities work together to create something new. It’s always interesting to see how your partner creates different ideas from the same inspiration. – Zakiya Adil Khatri, Bandhani artist

Events to come:

All of these events are open to the public and take place on the UW-Madison campus. Events are subject to change. Please check in advance.

Thursday April 14 | noon-1 p.m., 206 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Dr.

Coming Together: Culturally Inspired Creation talk by Judy Frater

Judy Frater, interdisciplinary artist in residence in the spring of 2022, will talk about the residency and the upcoming exhibition “Coming Together: Culturally Inspired Creation”. During the residency, students learned the value and importance of craftsmanship and sustainability. In India, the sustainable livelihoods of handicrafts are threatened by undervaluation. Every year artisans leave craftsmanship because it does not provide adequate income or recognition. On the strength of their experiences in the course, the students create an exhibition that presents their co-designed textiles inspired by textiles from the HLATC collections. Can they attract an audience to the craft by creating value for it and encouraging more sustainable lifestyles? This conference is organized by the Center for South Asia, a sponsor of the residency.

Saturday April 30 | 1-4 p.m., The Link, First Floor, Nancy Nicholas Hall, 1300 Linden Dr.

Trunk Show & Exhibition Reception: Co-design teams of UW-Madison students and traditional artisans from Kutch, India worked together this semester to present a public trunk show. The works sold will consist of limited editions of the co-designed pieces featured in the exhibition, as well as pieces designed and produced by the artisans. During this time the exhibition will be open and there will also be a reception. The textiles will be offered for sale through the Global Artisans Initiative.

Tuesday May 3 | 5:30-7:30 p.m., Wisconsin Idea Room (1199), Nancy Nicholas Hall, 1300 Linden Dr.

Public Presentations by Students of Design Studies 527: Global Artisans: This semester, students of the Design Studies 527: Global Artisans course collaborated with traditional weaving, embroidery, block printing, and bandhani artists from the district of Kutch in India. The students, in collaboration with the Center for Design and Material Culture, planned, designed and mounted an exhibition of their work co-created with their designer artisan partners. Students look forward to sharing their collaborative experiences throughout this class in a public presentation. This event will also be available via Zoom – register here.

Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery Hours: Monday–Tuesday: closed; Wednesday: 10am-4pm; Thursday: 10am-7pm; Friday: 10am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday: 12 p.m.-4 p.m.


The Judy Frater Interdisciplinary Art Residency is presented by the UW-Madison Division of Arts and hosted by the Department of Design Studies with Professor Jenny Angus as lead instructor. Supporters of the residency include the Department of Art, the Department of Art History, the Bolz Center for Arts Administration, the Center for Culture, History and Environment (CHE), the Center for Design and Material Culture, the Center for South Asia and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

The UW-Madison Arts Division has hosted interdisciplinary artists in residence since 1995 and officially launched the Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program (IARP) in 1999. This program brings innovative artists to UW-Madison to teach interdisciplinary courses from a semester with hosting public events. The program is made possible through funding from the University Provost’s Office.

Abdul J. Gaspar