STITCHING OUR STORIES
The Stitching our Stories project, implemented in collaboration with the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, combines photography and traditional embroidery to reveal the lives, stories, and faces behind the painstaking textile art created by women in Laos. Students are documenting the lives and work of women in their communities and those photographs will be printed on fabric, which they will then embroider using traditional techniques and symbols. All of our students are accomplished embroiderers ranging from 35 years old to the youngest at 9 years old.
WOMEN AT WORK
Participants were asked to document the daily lives of women and girls in their communities by photographing them at work. As illustrated by their photos, women and girls in Northern Laos play many roles (often all at one time) including, cooking, weaving, construction work, farming, teaching, studying, taking care of children, cleaning, dancing, selling at the market, making incense, and of course, embroidery.
Click here to view the Women at Work Gallery
Over the course of five weeks, the participants were introduced to the basics of digital photography and used these skills to make portraits and self-portraits and that tell their stories and reveal the lives of Lao women in pictures. They also had the opportunity to connect photography with their visual story-telling tradition of embroidery, and--through the contribution of the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) staff--to learn about the variety and importance of textile art in communities throughout the country.
For the final exhibition, each artist created a collection of their most successful photos and selected one photo that they printed on fabric and embroidered using their traditional techniques and styles.
BEHIND THE LENS
The Stitching Our Stories program was a great opportunity to understand how arts and education programs can connect Lao women and girls to the important work of local organizations such as TAEC and international programs like PhotoForward.
Our students taught us at least as much as we taught them, and we are grateful to them for their generosity, hard work, and commitment and for the opportunity to share stories, ideas, talents, and experiences across communities, cultures, and countries.
Click here to visit the Behind the Lens Photo Gallery