Ancient & Endangered Leaf Art. Rice straw art practiced by 100 artists around the world

Rice Straw Museum, Galveston, Texas.                                                  3-4-2002

     Rice straw Museum in Galveston, Texas is dedicated to Preserve, Promote & Protect
an ancient form of leaf art from extinction and to introduce this beautiful unique art to
America and the western world. Please visit the museum on the ebay URL and learn more about this ancient leaf

     I work with dried leaves of the rice plant. It is an ancient form of art/craft practiced by
less than 100 people around the globe at present. I learned this unique form of leaf
art/craft from my teacher in Kerala, the southern tip of India. I stayed with them for many
weeks and learned this ancient art. Now I practices this unique art in Galveston, Texas
and attempts to promote this beautiful art to America and the western world. I make
birds, tall ships, dogs, cats, portraits of movie stars etc. I have sold a few in Texas and I
would like to find out how to market this unique, beautiful leaf art through the web. I
request anyone to suggest some ways to promote this beautiful art to the world and save
this ancient leaf art from extinction. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Sincerely,
Ray Koshy, Rice Straw Museum, 1214 Church St, Galveston, Texas 77550.

PS. A copy of an article in Galveston magazine is enclosed for your review:

Arts & Entertainment

                                                                      by Jill Sokness

     Fine furniture fanatics know all about the Shakers and their simplistic yet beautiful,
furniture and accent pieces. Since there is a widely held admiration for Shaker-style
furniture, it will be around long after all the Shakers have gone.

     The United States is now home to another dyeing art that has been revitalized by a
local man. Straw art is unknown to most of the people--- even artists and art lovers. Its
history makes this artistic medium not only interesting to look at, but interesting to learn
about as well.

When people hear the term "straw art," they may think someone is making abstract
scarecrow figures or sticking pieces of red and white stripped straws from McDonald's on
paper and trying to sell it. But straw art goes farther back than America itself ---even
farther back than the Shakers.

     According to the man keeping this art alive, Rajan (Ray) Koshy, straw art is an ancient
art form that began before people had developed paint or dyes or had any knowledge of
color application. This art consist of using the natural colors of the leaves of the rice plant
to form a straw collage with intricate details and highlights.

     This unique art originated in a small town on the southern tip of India centuries ago.
Ray is from that area and grew up with the knowledge of and respect for straw art.
However it was four years ago that he decided to learn the art himself.

     "I had great appreciation for this art and wanted to learn how to do it. I found out
there are only a handful of people in the world who are carrying on this art form and that
is why I really wanted to learn about it..."

     Ray has been in the United States for 28 years and has made Galveston his home. He
originally came over on a student visa and studied in the University of Texas Medical
Branch. Now he is employed at UTMB as a registered nurse and puts in many hours to
keep his museum going and to support his family.

     Ray is a real family man, working hard to make sure his two children can participate in
all the extra curricular activities they are interested in.

     People in the other parts of the state are beginning to recognize this art form and
appreciate it too. Recently Ray was invited to demonstrate and show his work at the
Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio. He has also sent portraits to various politicians
and famous people, and he has a wall full of letters that thank him for gifts and efforts.

     Ray showed me a hand-written letter from George W Bush thanking him for a portrait
of Barbara Bush. He also has letters from Ted Turner, Ann Landers, Bella Shaw of CNN,
Dan Rather of CBS, Ann Richards etc.....

     Visitors can see the materials used as well as how they are used. Narrow strips of
differently-colored straw (dried leaves of the rice plant) are selected and sorted out. Then
each small individual piece is glued on to a cloth or paper base with gum arabic, which is
sap from a tree. Ray gets his rice straw from Alvin, Texas about 7 miles form Galveston.

     Ray keeps up all the hard work because he feels it is important just to let the people
know about straw art. Since this art form is in the list of endangered art, he feels it is
important to make people aware, spark interest and prevent the art from dying out.

     Ray is teaching the Bay area and is visitors about an ancient, unique and beautiful art
form that is struggling to stay alive. As in the case of Shaker furniture, outsiders are
needed to keep this art form becoming extinct. For more information, call (409) 762-5621

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