Rugs that make a difference: Afghan women take a stand...

By Whitney Radley, CultureMap Houston |  Feb 03, 2013

Culture Map

High design, quality craftsmanship and philanthropy collide in a recent collaboration for ARZU Studio Hope, a nonprofit aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty and bringing empowerment to Afghan women weavers.

It all began when Chicago architects Stanley Tigerman and Margaret McCurry enlisted the help of other internationally-renowned designers to create custom pieces for the organization's Masters Collection.

A marriage of modern architecture and age-old craft techniques, Afghan weavers worked Tigerman's tribal prints, McCurry's geometric symbols, Frank Gehry's exaggerated puzzle pieces, Robert A.M. Stern's scrolls, Zaha Hadid's spidery lines and Michael Graves' fluid abstractions into hand-woven rugs made from 100 percent hand-dyed sheep's wool.

U.S. Trust — a company that similarly believes in art, philanthropy and the empowerment of women — sponsored the Houston run of the exhibition, which is on public display in the lobby of the Bank of America Center through Feb. 15.

A reception for the exhibition drew local notables and even Karen Hughes, former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, to speak about the initiative.

"Her involvement in Afghan issues, especially those relating to women, drew her to this organization," explained Samantha Kennedy, a private client advisor for U.S. Trust.

A limited number of rugs from ARZU's Masters Collection are available for order. Proceeds will benefit Afghan women with fair wages and social benefits.

This article originally appeared in the CultureMap Houston publication. Content was produced by outside parties not affiliated with Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust or Bank of America Merrill Lynch, nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. These materials are for informational purposes only. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust and Bank of America Merrill Lynch do not assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone's reliance on the information provided.

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