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About

Storytelling with Saris is a collaborative printmaking and story project highlighting the achievement of literacy by women in the remote island community of Katakhali, Bangladesh, which is artist/activist Monica Jahan Bose’s ancestral village and part of an eco-empowerment program started by Samhati, a US-based non-profit group of Bangladeshi-American women. Katakhali is located on Barobaishdia Island (Patuakhali District) in the Bay of Bengal and is severely impacted by climate change. Monica and her mother Noorjahan Bose have been engaged with the Katakhali program since 2000. In Storytelling with Saris, Monica collaborates with 12 Katakhali women who have survived successive cyclones, learned to read, and rebuilt their lives. The project includes: conducting writing workshops for the women to keep and continue journaling their lives and changes in climate, creating large-scale (18-foot-long) woodblock prints on sari fabric using words and images, recording the women’s oral histories, taking their portrait photos, and documenting the project through photo and video. Each woman keeps some of the saris to wear as a statement of her achievements. The saris -- including the worn saris -- have been in installations and performances around the world. The project commenced in 2012 with conversations via mobile phone and research and planning. In January 2013, Monica went to the island to start work with the Katakhali women. A short film was made about this first stage with filmmaker Nandita Ahmed. The project continues with further writing in journals, sari printing, performances using the saris, and events around the world. Stage 2 of the project includes research and community education on climate change and adaptation, and continued advocacy for and documentation of this community. Through exhibitions, a book, lectures, workshops, performances, and panel discussions, Storytelling with Saris presents the stories of an inspiring community that is impacted by climate change and may well disappear unless urgent global action is taken. Funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. All images and text copyright © Monica Jahan Bose, 2012-2016. All rights reserved.