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Kate-Pitner-Arzu-Studio-Hope-Rug-CompetitionI just received an email from the fabulous people at Arzu Studio Hope saying that the rug design I created entitled “Against All Odds” is now available as a part of their designer series. This is such a fabulous organization and I’m so excited to have been able to contribute to their efforts.  All profits will go to the support of Arzu Studio Hope and their honorable mission of empowering and supporting the talented Afghan women who so skillfully create their handcrafted rugs. Here’s a little more information about who they are.

ABOUT ARZU STUDIO HOPE:  ARZU, which means “hope” in Dari, is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship that helps Afghan women weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them steady income and access to education and healthcare by sourcing and selling the rugs they weave.

While structured as a 501(c)(3) in the United States and .an international NGO in Afghanistan, ARZU operates as a “for-benefit” corporation, using private sector practices .to create jobs in desperately poor rural villages where little opportunity exists.

ARZU STUDIO HOPE believes in a holistic approach to sustainable poverty alleviation achieved through artisan-based employment that empowers women.  Women, earning fair labor wages, weave exquisite hand-knotted rugs at home. Innovative social benefit practices drive transformational change by providing grassroots access to vital education, healthcare, clean water and sustainable community development programs.


My design for this series was voted the “Los Angeles Facebook Fan Favorite” back in 2012, and I’m so thankful to all of you who voted back then!  Below is my artist statement.  I am so proud of how this rug looks and how the design takes on a new life and appearance from different angles. The patterns and shapes in the image are deceiving from all directions and allow for a variety of impressions, however the core root of my design is the haunting shape of Sharbat Gula’s eye, which was inspired by Steve McCurry’s amazing 1985 National Geographic photograph. For this project it was important to me to honor the journey and struggle of these amazing artisans who craft Arzu’s rugs. Below is my Artist Statement.

Artist Statement: In 1985 I was a sophomore in High School when I first saw the cover of National Geographic Magazine and Steve McCurry’s haunting photograph of what is now knows as the “Afghan Girl”. At the time this picture was taken she looked to be only a few years younger than myself and I remember staring for hours at her paralyzing gaze. Those crystal green eyes seemed to be harnessing back an unimaginable amount of pain, anger, fear, and wonder, and I was mesmerized by her image and longing to know her story. Years later, in 2002, National Geographic set out to see if they could try and find this now thirty-some year old woman. The odds were against them. The chances of her surviving to adulthood during a time of such great war and hardship would have been unthinkable, however they set out with the hope of succeeding. Against all odds they found her, a Pashtun woman named Sharbat Gula, now a mother of three children living in the mountains near Tora Bora. Steve McCurry is said to have known it was her the moment she walked into the room – those eyes could not deceive her identity. For my design I chose to focus on the part of this infamous image that drew me in as a young girl – the intensity of her gaze. When National Geographic found Sharbat Gula they employed the verification method of Biometric Testing, in this case Iris Recognition Scanning, to confirm the link between the child and the woman. It is in this action where my design takes its form and flows into focus.


My personal goal for 2014 is to do more projects like this one. Even if it is one small act of sharing a skill, talent, or time, it is one step closer to the change in the world that I feel deep down inside we all strive to see for ourselves and our loved ones. 



(I really love this quote and it can be found on the homepage of another non-profit organization I do work for and believe whole-heartedly in:  The Raise Your Hand Foundation.)