There are times when you come across a piece of artwork that reaches out and touches your soul in a way that makes you feel, “wow, I wish I could carry that with me all the time”. That is the beauty of Wearable Art. In our many travels to Haiti, we came across an artist whose work does exactly that. Sandra Russo’s collection of silk painted scarves, Sandilou, has the ability to put the wearer in a forever state of utopia.
We tracked down the traveling artist in her studio in Grenada. Between one of her meditation sessions, Sandra shared with us how she started painting fabric and the inspiration behind Sandilou scarves.
“My mother is an artist, so I grew up around colors, art books, and artist friends.” Is how she opens the conversation. Sandra Russo’s history with art stems over a twenty-five year period. Her husband and his partner were the owners of the company Fred Barnard in Haiti. Specializing in garments made of Haitian cotton. It was a trendy brand back during that time; unfortunately the embargo killed the business’ future. Russo worked in the creative department adding life to plain colored fabrics by experimenting with textile paint, bleach, and potato blotch techniques. It was exciting and it opened the doors to a passion that she would continue on her own.
The self-taught artist made a lot of mistakes in the beginning. But like most in that field, a mistake can be viewed as an opportunity to reach happiness with a work of art; which was exactly the case for Russo. Her inspirations come from everyday life, but mostly nature. She often finds herself gravitating to things she loves like birds and fish. It’s the sense of freedom that these objects represent that build the aura of her scarves. In addition, she is inspired by the elements of life that mean so much to her: her grandchildren, her mood of the moment, expressions on people she comes across, and Caribbean villages, to name a few.
The artwork of the Sandilou scarves go through quit a transformation process. “I prepare a first drawing and then I start painting with dyes. Most of the time what is on the first drawing is completely different, and then the next day I paint.” Sandra explains, “this time with textile paint, here again I make some changes and add details.” Each scarf is stretched out completely like a canvas prepared to convert, the finished products take on a soul of their own once they are complete.
Details that range from subject matter to color combinations are what keep this artist so true to herself. “I want to put art in other things aside from a painting.” Her seventy by twenty-eight inch scarves are made of 100% silk and can be wrapped up in numerous ways which make them the ideal accessory.
While creating each master piece, Sandra comes across the average challenges of finding work-family balance. But her moments of meditation combined with the feedback from clients or their smiling face when they have selected their statement of utopia makes all her hard work worth it, which brings her to wanting to expand the brand more.
Currently, Sandilou collection consists of colorful scarves and a tight vignette of apparel style. Russo produces all the pieces herself and is looking to add on additional artist. She wants it to be a “Caribbean brand”, to include numerous artists that work together and share the same soul, a complete artistic atmosphere.
For now clients can find Sandilou scarves online at www.sandilou.com . Shipping outside of Haiti and Grenada is available. For those looking to have an exclusive pieces of wearable art, Sandilou collection is the brand that will make you feel you are carrying around a master piece.
View the more images from Artist Sandra Russo of Sandilou