Artist Profiles


Farzana Sharshembieva


South and Central Asia






Apparel, Textiles

Medium of Work:

Silk and wool apparel

Year(s) Attended:

Santa Fe: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019


Farzana Sharshenbieva creates a range of textiles, from scarves to coats, using an ala kiyiz—or wet—felting technique. From a technical standpoint, the work is difficult, with the creation of a single garment requiring many individual steps. The laborious process yields beautifully unique items, however, whose organic, freeform designs are made without stitches or seams. For decades, Sharshenbieva has been inspired artistically by the lush countryside of her Kyrgyzstan homeland.

Just as she is inspired by her natural surroundings, she also must approach felting from a pragmatic standpoint; after all, Sharshenbieva depends upon her environment for raw materials to create natural dyes, and on local sheep’s wool spun into thread for her textiles.

Sharshenbieva’s family has been called a “dynasty of artisans;” indeed, she comes from a long line of creative experts, and also works with her six younger sisters. Along with her father and other master artisans, Sharshenbieva is dedicated to maintaining and preserving traditional Kyrgyzstan felt and silk making techniques, many of which are passed down from one generation to the next, for hundreds of years. A ten-time UNESCO Seal of Excellence winner, Sharshenbieva has won numerous additional accolades, including the Silver Prize trophy from China International Folk Crafts & Cultural Products Expo.