The Global Eco Artisan Awards for 2022 took place Wednesday morning, with a spotlight on indigenous craft.
The GEAA platform — put on by the Agaati Foundation — is designed to celebrate and champion the global artisan community and endangered craft. In the inaugural event held last year, designer Bibhu Mohapatra was among the judges. This year, sustainable fashion advocate Aditi Mayer, fashion designer Naeem Khan and Global Fashion Exchange founder Patrick Duffy were on the judging panel, which spanned categories of craft, textiles, jewelry and décor.
A keynote speech was delivered by journalist Bandana Tewari (who is also a mentor, ambassador and Agaati Foundation board member) for the second year in a row. Her keynote titled “The Humanity of Creativity” highlighted the importance of community.
“You give back. You give back to the community. You give back to the environment,” she summarized during the virtual awards ceremony.
Though their names and artisanal techniques may yet be unfamiliar to the global fashion industry, the participants know the access the GEAA stage provides thousands of viewers worldwide.
Even being among the finalists is important for bridging would-be partnerships with brands and designers, crucial to securing their economic livelihoods as well as crafts. The full list of finalists includes Esme Hofman, Julien Feller, Suresh Lawot Tuladhar and Nanasei Agyemang (for home décor); Verde Alfieri, Karim Oukid Ouksel, Kumiko Kihara, Nino Misriashvili and Ikramzhan Rafikov (for jewelry); Tejsi Marwada, Nana Addae Gyamera, Bholanath Karmakar and Chubako (for endangered craft); Firdose Ahmad Jan, Sanjar Nazarov, Pitchuka Srinivas, Gohar Sajid and Sufiyan Ismail Khatri (for surface décor); and Porfirio Gutierrez, Renny Manurung, Santosh Gupta and Sapna Vedula (for handwoven textiles).
Winners like Chuba Ko — a women-led project preserving indigenous wool-felting techniques in the village of Chuba in South Sikkim, India — offered their remarks on the importance of the awards ceremony to their community. Chuba Ko is funded by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, and seeks to engage, empower and enable women of Chuba. The weavers have preserved the indigenous wool-making practice that has been passed down for generations.
“Thank you Agaati Foundation for the recognition and the award to our growing efforts in sharing the wisdom of the mountains with the world,” Chuba Ko weavers wrote on Instagram. Today, their projects span cushion covers and rugs in a swath of charcoal hues in floral motifs.
Last year the Agaati Foundation received 400 artisan submissions across categories, of which 80 percent were from women showcasing the value of craft in gender equity. Along with mentorship, winners receive $2,000 to put toward their businesses. Judging decisions are based on three criteria: authenticity, adaptability and quality.