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Gallery features photos of women crafting home goods out of old saris



sari-bari-74. - Frank and Sarah Schweikhardt - Gather

A woman from Sari Bari, an organization that helps women in India leave the sex trafficking by training them as artisans, repurposes an old sari, which is an Indian female garment. Photographs from photographers Frank and Sarah Schweikhardt, who visited Sari Bari in Calcutta, India, will be displayed at Gather until Jan. 31. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Old saris are transformed into blankets, purses and home goods in a photography gallery that will be displayed at Gather, a Bloomington art gallery and gift shop, until Jan. 31.

Talia Halliday, owner of Gather, said featured photographers Frank and Sarah Schweikhardt used the photos to document their time at Sari Bari, a charity in Kolkata, India.

Photographers Frank and Sarah Schweikhardt stand in front of blankets made by women from Sari Bari, an organization that helps women in India leave the sex trafficking by training them as artisans. The photos documenting their time at Sari Bari will be displayed in downtown Bloomington at Gather until Jan. 31. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos


Halliday said the organization helps women escape sex trafficking by training them as seamstresses and artisans and giving them an income through their artwork.

“I hope visitors will learn the story behind the women that work and make Sari Bari a sustainable practice and appreciate the art they create,” Halliday said. “Of course, I hope they also appreciate the photographs of the process from the local photographers we call our friends.”

In addition to training seamstresses, Halliday said Sari Bari trains the women working for them to be strong, successful and empowered leaders in their communities.

The Sari Bari website explains the ancient Bengali tradition of sewing old saris into layers with a single stitch, called a kantha stitch. Bengali women have used this technique to upcycle old saris and keep their families warm for hundreds of years, according to the website.

Saris, which are a form of traditional Indian clothing, represent womanhood, according to the Sari Bari website.

Saris — in addition to the word "bari," which means "house or home" in Bengali — form the name and inspiration behind the organization, the website reads.

As the women at Sari Bari upcycle the saris, stitch by stitch, Halliday said the women feel pride in their work, respect for themselves and faith in their limitless abilities.

Women from Sari Bari, an organization that helps women in India leave sex trafficking by training them as artisans, make blankets like this one out of old saris. The technique is part of an old Bengali tradition that will be celebrated in a gallery in downtown Bloomington at Gather until Jan. 31. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos


Halliday said she was happy to invite the Schweikhardts as Gather's first gallery photographers this year.

Both photographers are Bloomington residents who together own a wedding photography business called Wandering Heart Photography. Frank Schweikhardt also owns Schweikhardt Photography, which does professional headshots.

The Schweikhardts love to travel and spend time each year exploring the world, according to a December press release.

“Their recent partnership with Sari Bari was an amazing intersection of the things they feel most passionate about: photography, travel and telling the stories of fellow humans,” the release read.

Halliday said meeting these photographers and hearing about their journey was her favorite part of organizing the gallery.

“It’s always a good choice to support local artists, especially ones acting on a global scale,” she said.

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