Global Artisans Initiative

women sitting making a basket
Tharu basket maker, Nepal

The 4W Global Artisans Initiative (GAI) is made up of nearly a dozen artisan groups located around the world including Ecuador, India, Nepal, Kenya, and Mexico. At these sites, leaders seek to empower artisans and their families through the promotion of their handicrafts, which supports community wellbeing and strengthens cultural heritage. Led by 4W Leaders Jennifer Angus, Carolyn Kallenborn, and Lesley Sager, GAI convenes UW-Madison students, scholars, and artisans for a horizontal learning exchange that brings about collaborative projects, unique undergraduate courses, and international internships. The program uses Design Thinking to promote empathy, understanding, enhanced design, and a road to wellbeing.

Artisans – often women who may have fewer opportunities to participate in income generation – use their increased earnings and newfound skills to pay for healthcare and education, and to meet other basic needs for their families. Artisans express a sense of pride, enthusiasm, and confidence as they continue to develop their skills and support their families and communities.

The videos below were created by students in the undergraduate course, Global Artisans 527, taught by 4W Leader and Design Studies Professor Jennifer Angus.

Tharu Basket Makers in Nepal

Video by Talia Abbe, Lily Bedell, and Taylor Lauri

Lacemakers of Presa de Barajas in Mexico

Video by Lauren Brahm, Dalia Gutierrez, & Olivia Scumaci

Kiondo Makers of Kenya

Video by Allie Banda, Dean Koleva, & Sofia Staehly

Artisans of Intag Sisal in Ecuador

Video by Gage Czuppa, Samuel Gold, & Erin Sullivan

Artisans of Sumak Muyo in Ecuador

Video by Jess Gomez & Gwyneth Allen

Co-Design Projects in India

Video by Jennifer Angus,  Tim Coursen, & Erica Hess

Learn more and shop!

Join the Global Artisans Initiative Coffee Hour and Trunk Sale at 9am on Saturday, April 10th to learn more and view products available for purchase. All proceeds are invested into artisan communities.

Join Coffee HourShop Artisan Goods

1 thought on “Global Artisans Initiative”

  1. I had just had the pleasure of going around the world with the 4W Global Artisan Initiative. The artistry and beauty and values of this project speak for itself. Again and again we see, in these short videos, a reflection of dedicated teacher-artists, students and student-artists, and artisans from around the world. They all share a desire to learn from each other, keep traditions, and have an impact on wellbeing. That impact comes in the making itself -materials, design, color, function, following patterns and expressing creativity – as well as in the freedom and choices that the related revenue gives. I have had the privilege of being with the women at many of these sites, and seeing their aspirations turn into realities. I am so in awe of what has been accomplished and lived because of this effort of faculty, student and mentors associated with this project. What is not covered here is the joy that comes from purchasing one of these products knowing that by doing so you because part of this whole beautiful chain of events. I hope those who see these videos will purchase something from GAI during the conference!

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