Peter Hristoff and Begum Kurkalkan, Summer of Service Lunch, NY, 2013

This Priene Hali Website was developed by Summer of Service interns supported by Artin Arts and GENBAND. We were inspired to meet founder of this project, Peter Hristoff, in New York in the summer of 2013 and in 2014 began contributing to another similar project located in Van, Turkey. We hope you enjoy this story and support the women of Turkey!

– Begum, Julia, Mira, Nina, Shannon, Shruthi, Victoria

Article From the School of Visual Arts Website

Carpets from Turkey have been prized the world over for centuries, and a group of students and faculty members at SVA is working on a project that engages directly with that illustrious weaving tradition. Turkish-born faculty member Peter Hristoff has a longstanding interest in traditional carpet making, and it has often inspired his prints and paintings. Two years ago he was invited to be an artist-in-residence at the Güllübahçe Rug Workshop, a fledgling cooperative of 20 women weavers in the small farming village Güllübahçe, located in the Meandros River valley near the western coast of Turkey. During his stay there he created a series of original motifs, inspired by the ancient Greek ruins in the neighboring city of Priene, which could be used to produce rugs that told the story of the region’s history and mythology. “I was asked to help the women return to a way of weaving that was much closer to the methods of generations ago,” says Hristoff. “Rug making as a type of personal journal, a record of the dreams, desires and routines of its creator.” 

Building on the kind of cultural exchange that he enjoyed at the workshop, Hristoff invited colleagues and students in the BFA Fine Arts Department and BFA Visual and Critical Studies Department to design small rugs to be produced by the weavers and displayed at the Meandros Festival, an annual summertime celebration of the cultural heritage of the region. More than 20 artists got involved with the project, and they came up with designs ranging from stylized landscapes and portraits to lighthearted text-based works like Michael Hansen’s colorful geometric abstract that reads, “randy was sad/his last lima bean washed down the sink.”

In exchange for donating their designs to the Güllübahçe Rug Workshop, the participating SVA artists will receive finished prototype rugs, and the rugs will be exhibited at the College November 15 – 27, at 133/141 West 21st Street. In the meantime, proceeds from the sale of the rugs will help the weavers build their business (a Web site is in development, but a computer, digital camera and other equipment are needed). Although the weavers now support themselves mostly on part-time seasonal work such as harvesting olives or raising honey bees, the hope is that the cooperative will one day become self-sustaining, through sales to local people and foreign tourists. 

Michael Grant