BY: JELANI GRANT
Fashion designer Lorena Santin-Andrade and artist David Kibuuka were teaching modern Batik Couture at the Oakdale Community Centre. For six weeks, youth at the Oakdale Community Centre were taught how to create original artwork using the technique of modern batik using wax, dyes and will experiment with the surprising results this technique offers.
They would then use Adobe Photoshop to create repeats of their work which were professionally photographed and digitally printed onto quality fashion upholstery fabric.
Students were shown how to create and cut cushion patterns, embellish their designs using embroidery techniques and finally, machine stitches them into finished keepsake cushions they designed and signed themselves. Santin-Andrade and David David Kibuuka met with fifteen kids Monday to Friday until their creations were ready to be held in a fashion show to present their creations to their family and community.
Santin-Andrade received one more grant from the Toronto Arts Council funding this summer to hold a Sustainable Textile Art class with Sonja Fijn at Chalkfarm Community Centre/Beverley Heights Middle School. The Ontario Arts Council also funded a workshop that provided funding to continue her program from last year at Oakdale Community Centre.
“I am so grateful to be able to offer quality art classes in this neighborhood which are desperately needed. The youth here are hungry to learn more, engage in creative projects and workshops and to be provided with quality programs”, she said.
Santin-Andrade said she is grateful to the Toronto Arts Council for funding she received this year. She said her partnership with David Kibuuka combined art and fashion in one exciting program. “The class which I partnered with David Kibuuka on in July gave youth at Jane and Finch the opportunity to learn the art of modern batik”, she said. “Then they were taught how to turn their artwork into digitally printed linen cotton which they were then taught how to embellish through embroidery and then sew into cushions”.
Kibuuka and Santin-Andrade taught fifteen students which allowed them to teach the kids while providing close hands-on assistance so they could properly understand techniques. She said the workshops allowed them to learn something their peers might never be exposed to, giving them an advantage. Due to the popularity of batik designs, many batik patterns are used in a wide variety of fabrics. Though it has become a generic term, “batik” is an Indonesian-Malay word referring to the process of dying fabric by covering areas of cloth with a dye-resistant substance to prevent them from absorbing colors. According to For Asian Art Appreciation, the technique is believed to be over a thousand years old. Historical evidence supports the theory that the resist technique was in use in the early A.D. centuries in parts of Africa and several areas in Asia. Kibuuka’s website said the growth of Modern Batik Style was in the 1970’s from its entry into East Africa in the early 60’s.
Santin-Andrade said she believes that the youth in the Jane-Finch area “want to experience art programs as much as in other parts of the city regardless of their circumstances”.
“They need something to do that engages their mind and creativity. Some kids come in and have big frowns on their face…a strong support system is so vital to youth, teenagers”, she said. “The pride that they walk away with at the end is the reason we do this”.
Santin-Andrade’s skills and experience allow her to offer a specialized workshop targeting in art-focused youth, who are learning techniques taught in private art classes or post-secondary fashion arts-based programs. “Not all youth are interested in just sports-oriented programming. The objective for me is to ensure quality art programs are offered in this neighborhood”, she said.
Her intent is to expose the students to techniques not typically offered to them anywhere else, allowing them to discover hidden talents and use them going forward in life. She said the program required focus, concentration, and attention to detail which can be then applied to their everyday work ethic. “Learning to become quiet so to focus and become inspired is a key component of the classes we teach”, she said.
“We expect to continue offering this workshop and versions of this workshop to high priority neighborhoods where artistically inclined youth are interested in learning new techniques and mastering ones already learned”, said Santin-Andrade.