Ashburn’s Khadija Sareshwala bridges cultures and textile art
When textile artist Khadija Sareshwala moved to Ashburn four years ago, she built a bridge to her home in India in the form of beautiful wearable art.
Sareshwala, who grew up in the UK and Mumbai, is someone who moves easily from culture to culture. Now she is embracing her new home and mixing Loudoun’s flora and fauna in her work.
“I am very adaptable to different situations. I moved around a lot when I was younger, ”she said. “For me, it’s just a matter of seeing the people and absorbing the culture. I like to take what each place has in it and try to integrate it into my work.
Sareshwala was making inroads into the DMV juryed craft show scene when COVID hit, but she remains productive and is building an online presence for her ethereal hand-painted scarves and decorative textile work. For Sareshwala, her work is a way to stay connected to her home and to support the women artists who have inspired her during her career with two Indian nonprofits.
Sareshwala’s mother is a ceramist and his first inspiration.
“I always saw his work and his textures. Her work is very 3D, so it’s always been an inspiration – I grew up with it, ”she said.
When Sareshwala attended art school in Mumbai, she initially thought she would focus on digital art, but found herself drawn to the textures and practical nature of textile work. Her passion for textiles was cemented by her work with the non-profit organization Craftroots, which supports low-income urban and rural women in western India. Craftroots helps women generate income through traditional crafts by providing a platform for selling jewelry and textiles.
“Their whole mission was to empower women and revive dying art forms. It was a very telling thing for me, ”said Sareshwala. “I would just like to sit down with [craftswomen] trying to absorb everything I saw.
Sareshwala continued his work in the Indian non-profit sector, working for the trendy global clothing line Being Human, which supports the Being Human Foundation started by Bollywood star Salman Khan. When Sareshwala got married and moved to Ashburn four years ago, she focused on herself. art while continuing to support textile workers in India.
“I was like it was something interesting where I could bridge the gap between high fashion and my aesthetic as an artist and also collaborate with artisans,” she said.
Sareshwala uses silk and cotton fabrics from India, and many fabric ornaments, such as tassels and crochet, are made by artisans from his home country. Sareshwala creates patterns using traditional batik, block printing and tie-dyeing techniques, experimenting with wax, salt, rubbing alcohol and other materials to create texture , while hand painting whimsical elements like butterflies, dragonflies, plants and flowers.
“I just want to experiment and explore,” she said.
Before COVID hit, Sareshwala was stepping in the door of the local arts and crafts scene with a focus on jury shows. During her early years at Loudoun, her work was successful at shows in Richmond and Hyattsville, and she made her local debut at spring and vacation craft shows at the Ida Lee Recreation Center. Last spring, she secured a seat at the sprawling and popular Bizarre Bazaar in Richmond, but the show was canceled due to COVID.
Sareshwala slowly plunges his toes into the in-person craft show scene and has applied to the prestigious Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival in Reston, which has been pushed back to September 2021. For now, Sareshwala is focused on strengthening his presence online with an active Instagram page and new website.
For textile artists, in-person connection is essential, she says. But artists adapt to their time.
“I know everything is changing. I have to find a way to get my work online. But I want to be able to meet my clients, explain the story behind it all to them, ”said Sareshwala. “It’s a great feeling to see and show them what I’m working on.
With its new website up and running and in-person craft shows slowly coming back online as COVID restrictions are relaxed, Sareshwala is focused on creating beautiful work and connecting in Loudoun’s art community.
“It’s been a good creative journey,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what I can do with this next.”
Explore sartorial and decorative art by Ashburn artist Khadija Sareshwala on Instagram @khadijasareshwala and shop online at khadijabrand.com.