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For a film trailer and more in-depth information please visit our page at Grantmakers in Film + Electronic Media:
For a fun and colorful site where you can find hand-dyed and creative wax resist print fashions from Mali and Senegal, available in the U.S.,
see Queen Sheba Village at: http://www.freewebs.com/queenshebavillage/
For beautiful photographs of Malian people by Eric Condominas, see:
New Film in Development
In Mali, as in other West African countries, cloth has served as social-capital, equity, wealth, inheritance and articles of beauty for hundreds of years. In the early 1970s a group of Malian women dyers helped to re-invigorate the hand-dyed cloth industry throughout West Africa by producing a wider palate of vibrant colors and innovative designs, which continue to evolve even today. Their creative use of bright color-fast dyes and intricate patterns have turned hand-dyed bazin (an imported polished cotton) into popular fashion, sought after by rich and poor alike. Now a lucrative industry, hand-dyed cloth provides a sustainable source of asset building for many women. This is occurring in the context of trends towards "Cheap Chic" and disposable clothing, and the out-sourcing of garment industries through globalization that has made Western clothing all the more ubiquitous. By following the daily challenges of several Malian cloth dyers at different levels of economic attainment, we witness the power that women¹s artistry and entrepreneurial skills have to express the universal human need for beauty, identity, and indeed, survival.
Maxine Downs, a PhD candidate at the University of Florida at Gainesville in economic anthropology, has been working and traveling to West Africa for twenty years. She became interested in anthropology while worked as a art buyer for galleries in NYC, as an art buyer, helping local artisan communities perfect their merchandise for the Western market. Her research interests include international development/poverty alleviation and women's health.