Let's Make Art Together

by AGNES PIERSCIENIAK, FOUNDER

 

I believe making art is social event. 

Every day since graduating from RISD, Art making and surrounding myself with an inspired art community have been essential fuels for my life. Making thing with my hands is necessary. It’s my form of mediation, being in the moment and focusing. I took new Art classes at a local college, taught design classes and traveled to India, Portuga, Japan and Mexico for craft workshops. Every class was an opportunity to learn something new and meet new friends. Everyone can make something and be empowered through creativity. I aim to create another context for making art, an art social club to get together, meet new people and create together. 

The trips I have taken around the world were amazing opportunities. The places were incredible, the artisans in India and Japan were beyond inspiring. But, a huge benefit of these art retreats was stepping away from daily life, meeting new people and building a community. The people came through all wakes of life. Most were not creatives. Most had not gone to art school. These are the people who need art. They are craving to be creative. And, this is the community I hope to reach out to and inspire with a process and way of seeing the world I was lucky enough to get at RISD.

I started Crave Workshops to add Creativity into the everyday. Inspired by several art retreats I participated in, I realized how essential it is to be creative for even non artists. 

I aim to erase the boundary of art and the preconceived notion that you have to be an artist to do art. Sometimes there’s a fear that “I’m Not creative” or “It’s too hard.” I take the crafts I learned in these amazing trips, with the teaching and studio practices I learned at RISD and combine them with a hospitality setting.  The workshops become local art retreats, and even for 3-4 hours, we build something together. 

 
 

Making Moments

Memories are funny. We tend to remember the highs and the lows, no matter how brief. What do I remember from my three week amazing journey though Rajasthan? I saw countless cities, all a different shade of the spectrum. We saw opulent palaces, holy cows, carved temples, and rainbow bazaars with intricate goods. I bought a few pieces, but I remember the bartering more than the other products. The one piece that I won’t forget is definitely not the prettiest, but I cherish it the most. I made it. In the dusty village two hours outside of Jaipur’s pink gates, I remember stamping traditional patterns with carved block in a sweltering Indian afternoon. I clearly picture the sari clad women helping me stamp with mud resist and the lean man mixing the indigo vat with his bare feet. I still have the scarves I made in India, now displayed proudly in my new studio. But, what I remember are the artisans who dipped them in the underground buckets of charcoal and indigo and the moment of surprise when we unwrapped the pieces. It was nothing like what I had imagined. It was pure delight, and I wanted more. 

Making something creates an unforgettable memory. The moments of my life that I cherish and remember center around making new stuff with my hands, exploring new places and meeting new people. I yearn to travel, yes, but not just to pass through a place. I want to savor it and participate with it. My first trip to India, where I got to block print with the master craftsmen on Bagru, left an unforgettable memory and hunger for more. When I went to Japan, I had the honor of learning new Shibori techniques from Indigo expert Bryan Whitehead, and his community of craftsmen. What a wonderful memory of dyeing in 3rd and 4th generation indigo vats. Staying in his centuries old house, eating home cooked meals together with his family, created a community that is unreplicable. Brian’s dogs - both Fukushima survivors - would saunter in and spy on our scarves blowing under the wooden eaves of the creaking farmhouse. Spending multiple days together, making, exploring, and talking created true connections. We spent nights participating in tea ceremonies, slurping rice porridge, and folding new patterns. Time stood still. We woke up, we started sewing. We went to bed when we got tired of our 10th indigo dip.  I wanted that again. I began planning how I could recreate the memory and that feeling back in LA. 

Combining travel to a foreign place and making something new became the magic potion. The crafts were incredible, the place was inspiring, and recreating them with my modern design sensibility would allow me to share what I love with a new community in LA. So whether it’s a 2 hour workshop, an all day retreat or a happy hour corporate pop up, I wanted people to leave with delight and joy at experiencing this moment of creation.

 
Our lives are measured in moments and defining moments are the ones that endure in our memories.
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Creative Travel: Japan 2016

In the fall of 2016, I, and ten other woman, traveled from Los Angeles to Fujino, a suburb outside of Tokyo to study indigo textiles with Bryan Whitehead. Most of our two weeks was spent seeing Japan through the textile arts. Days were spent waking up, coming down for our morning craft or history lesson, enjoying a communal lunch and then trying a new technique. We pleated and folded, twisting old fabrics around ropes and cutting stencils from handmade mulberry paper. We studied the art of Japanese Stencils Katazome under the watchful eye of a third generation Kimono master. By making rather than just touring, we learned to see the real Japan.

I call it "Creative Travel." It is traveling around the world to learn local crafts. People write about going abroad and experiencing local food, but pursuing and participating in local art is rarely explored. This has been a passion of mine for several years, first learning block printing in Jaipur, India, then studying under a master Kimono craftsman in Fujino, Japan. What motivates someone to travel to Japan, live in an almost 200 year old farmhouse, and learn an ancient craft technique spending hours sewing and dyeing pieces of fabric in large vats of Indigo? I wanted to go to learn and make, not just buy a handmade stuff. Whether getting my hands covered in mud and natural dyes or using 150 year old stencils in indigo vats, making is the experience that enriches and inspires. 

After pursuing this passion globally, I wanted to bring home my love for international crafts and share it locally. Crave Workshops was born. We now host monthly art workshops in Venice Beach. I share the skills I was taught globally, in the hopes of creating a local, inspired gathering one Shibori towel at a time.

Travel to the source to learn a local craft. Bring that craft home.