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Volume 3 Issue 5 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Cloth of The Mother Goddess
by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost

It was a Tuesday in March of 2004; I was walking a labyrinth and pondering my pursuit to research in India. I had never been to a third world country, but I felt as if India had a sacred contract with me. I came to realize that if I was going to honour my passion and my calling, I needed to not let fear prevent me from going to India. The apprehension about my finances and fear about India attempted to paralyze my ambition, but during my walk, I found the courage to do what I loved. I had been rejected from three grants and my funding for India seemed forlorn, but I proceeded to go to the travel agent and buy my ticket to my life's work. On Wednesday I had a ticket to India. On Thursday, I got a call from the Kansas City Artists' Coalition (KCAC) saying they loved my grant proposal and wanted to know more about my budget and my safety in India. On Friday, I received another call from KCAC awarding me a grant.

This story, my decision, and its impact may not seem critical, but to me it was an expression of overcoming fear to begin to accomplish what I feel I was born to do. There are so many people in the world who are not able to give themselves permission to do what they love and overcome the fear which is associated with the risk. This week of surmounting fears was the beginning of a tapestry of my goals to serving humanity and I honestly believe, if I did not make the choice to purchase my ticket to India, I would not have received the grant the next day.

Several months later, September 13, 2004 to be exact, I boarded a plan to India to research Mata Ni Pachedi - translated as Cloth of the Mother Goddess. Mata Ni Pachedi is a hand-printed, painted and dyed cotton textile using only vegetable dyes. Unaware of what would await me or what profound changes India was to imprint on me I began my journey into the unknown. My exploration began in the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, the northwestern state of India, with the Chitara community, the textile makers of Mata Ni Pachedi. During my first week with the community I used a translator, but after three or fours days of intense involvement with their work, filming their tradition, and beginning the children's project, the community began to open up to me and eventually I became their sister.

I dressed like them, in a Sari, I ate with them and played and worked with them. I was there 12 hours a day. Now that I look back, the children's project was the stepping-stone of my involvement. I named the project the "Toy for a Textile Project". The children of the community created small textiles in exchange for toys. I later used the textiles to create a sculptural fabric book about their lives called the "Illuminated Childrenscript: an ABC Experience". The book serves as a cross-cultural exchange, promotion for local learning, service and global literacy and was donated to the Kansas City Public Library. The "Toy for a Textile Project" became part of the "ABCD Education Project", which raised funds for eleven children to attend school for up to seven years of education for each child. In December 2005, I created the "ABCD Education Project" and provided funding for the ABC School, a free one-year long English class for the under and uneducated members of the community.

In addition to my unconditional love for the community which developed throughout my four months with them, I also extensively researched the 500-year-old tradition of Mata Ni Pachedi and created the film "Unconscious Eloquence: an Exploration of Textiles of the Mother Goddess". The film is a 26-minute documentary which introduces the textile tradition of the Gujarati culture and the Chitara community's process and long-standing history of tradition which has never before been seen in America.

"Unconscious Eloquence" is an experience in discovery and embarks the viewer on a journey through the labyrinth of spiritual and traditional offerings of the Mother Goddess, the textiles of Mata Ni Pachedi, and the Chitara community. The film examines the relationships between Mother Goddess in India, roles of women and men, and nature as a manifestation of the Mother Goddess. It also investigates the foundations of our collective identity and a transformation back to a basic form of interaction and the first form of religion, love.

During my time with the Chitaras, I was forced to access the deepest part of myself and communicate from the level of loving, the organic essence of who I am and who I want to be. It was only then I could navigate through the ongoing creation of my experience with life in India. I could transcend the boundaries of culture, using spirituality and love as an abode for connection between the community and myself. It would take years for me learn to speak Gujarati, the language of the Chitara community, but from the day I arrived, the language of love poured from my soul with unconscious eloquence. Through my experience and my communication with the Chitara community I began to realize generosity is the proof of abundance of goodness in the world and going to India filled my heart with something which I could have never received any other place.

Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost recently completed a funded research grant on Mata Ni Pachedi: Cloth of the Mother Goddess in India. Leidenfrost is a graduate of RISD with a focus in blending the boundaries between Video and textiles. Her work has been shown throughout the USA and India. Her filmmaking accolades include work filmed in India, France, England, Switzerland, Greece and Italy. To order a copy of her DVD "Unconscious Eloquence" click here. Please contact Isadora via email.

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