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Apr 24, 2023 / 21:08

Fabric scraps given new life by disabled artists

Dong Ho and Hang Trong's folk paintings, collaged from silk fabric scraps, bring a new unique beauty. Even more surprising is that these pieces are created by people with disabilities.

Nguyen Thuy Linh meticulously selects silk fabric scraps in complementary colors to complete her landscape collage. If painters paint with brushes, she paints with silk pieces, scissors and glue. The collage comes to life under her skilled hands".

Linh was a disabled and depressed woman before working at Vun Art, a cooperative for people with disabilities.

Scraps revived

While working as a kindergarten teacher, she suffered a bone ailment that rendered her unable to walk. Her marriage also ended at the same time. Becoming a disabled person and unable to continue with her old job, she felt bored. Her life was almost deadlocked as she had to raise a child alone while her parents were old and frail. She had locked herself at home for four years.

 Members of Vun Art are people with disabilities. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

Linh learned about Vun Art while watching Viec tu te (Good work) program on the VTV3 channel.

Vun Art Cooperative was founded in 2018 by Le Viet Cuong, a person with a mobility disability. The co-operative is located in Van Phuc silk Village, Ha Dong District, close to Linh’s house.

Vun Art was created to preserve and introduce traditional culture, create jobs for people with disabilities, and reuse spare materials in the production process to protect the environment. The silk scraps are revived and incorporated into the artworks. What Vun Art has done is so inspiring to Linh.

She applied for an apprenticeship there. At first, Linh was timid, lacked confidence, and needed help moving around. She thought she would be unable to integrate and work here. But the love, sharing, and dedication of the experienced workers at Vun Art changed her. Joy returned to her since she realized she was not useless and could still work and create.

 Nguyen Thuy Linh shares her story at the exhibition. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

As Linh's skill grows, she confidently helps newbies, accepting harder collages. She can even stand before the crowd and tell her story without fear.

"Just as scraps of fabric are revived on canvas, I find myself revived when I work at Vun Art. Each of our lives may be just small pieces of fabric, but when we work together, we can create a beautiful and useful picture for life," Linh said.

Inspirational work

Being a disabled person, director Le Viet Cuong met many painters to learn the art and establish the Vun Art Cooperative as he sympathizes with the difficulties of people like him, especially in finding a job. Therefore, Vun Art Cooperative is a loving home, creating jobs and stable income for vulnerable people.

 A collage entitled Dragon in the collection of 12 zodiac animals. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

In Vun Art products, Vietnamese folk paintings such as Hang Trong, Dong Ho, and Kim Hoang paintings; paintings by famous artists such as painter Bui Xuan Phai and painter Le Huy Van have been adapted to create works of art on silk fabrics. In addition, the Vun Art Cooperative has created new themes to decorate products such as tote bags, wallets, shirts, and postcards.

“This work is not easy even for normal people, so those unfortunate enough to have disabilities need much more patience. To make a product, they must go through a lot of meticulous stages, requiring the artisan to have all skills, techniques, good artistic eyes and skilled hands,” said Cuong.

The textile and garment industry in Vietnam is thriving with great economic benefits. However, the problem of handling industrial waste from textile factories has been limited in collection and burial, threatening the living environment.

Realizing the positive effects that Vun Art brings to the environment, many garment factories have begun sending scraps to Vun Art. Thus, artisans have a source of materials to recycle.

On the occasion of the Vietnam Day of Persons with Disabilities (April 18), the Hanoi Museum, in cooperation with the Vun Art Co-operative, organized an exhibition called Nhung Manh Vun (Fabric Scraps) with the desire to spread good values about perseverance, strong will to overcome difficulties among people with disabilities.

Sharing about the exhibition, Dang Minh Ve, Deputy Director of the Hanoi Museum, said that silk scrap collage is an art form that requires meticulousness, care, a delicate artistic eye, and the ability to mix the fabric pieces.

 Visitors at the exhibition. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

"The silk scraps seem to be revived and come to life through the hands of Vun Art craftsmen, making the canvas beautiful and unique works of art," said Dang Minh Ve.

Tran Thi Van Anh, Deputy Director of Hanoi's Department of Culture and Sports, noted that Vun Art's products are diverse and highly applicable in many areas of life.

"The exhibition will help spread good values, stimulate creative thinking and artistic creation among the public, contribute to the preservation and introduction of traditional culture, create jobs for people with disabilities, and use the waste from the fashion production process to protect the environment," she said.

Van Anh also had a message: "A scrap of fabric will contribute to an artistic picture if it is placed in the right place. A person with a disability can also create his own unique value to beautify his life if he finds the right place".

The Nhung Manh Vun exhibition will run at the Hanoi Museum until October 2023. During this time, the museum will hold a weekend workshop to give visitors the experience of making collages and souvenirs from silk scraps.