Wearable Works of Art

South Bay artists collaborate with specialty-accessory company Vismaya on beautiful, high-quality scarves and handbags.

By Maureen Kingsley

The advent of computing and digital technology has removed some of the historical barriers to owning art: cost, access, and feasibility of display, to name a few. Thanks to such developments as computer-aided design and digital image capture, artwork can be reproduced “on just about anything these days,” says Redondo Beach-based artist Alison Corteen (pictured at right), a South Bay Artist Collective member whose vibrant, colorful paintings are now available as stylish accessories at vismaya.com. Vismaya is a 15-year family business that has recently launched its direct-to-consumer e-commerce arm.

A number of Alison’s paintings, which are colorful abstract and impressionist works inspired by both urban and natural landscapes—including those familiar to South Bay residents—are now available at Vismaya as scarves and bandanas in silk, cashmere blend, and linen.

The artworks of both Alison and another South Bay artist and Vismaya collaborator, Wendy Stillman, “resonate with my own story,” says Shivani Mehrotra, co-founder of Vismaya, who manages its business operations in LA. “The colors in Alison’s and Wendy’s works are appealing, and they translate beautifully to scarves and other accessories,” Shivani adds.

Launched by Shivani and her brother (pictured together below) in India in 2007, Vismaya started out a business-to-business accessory brand that sold to boutiques around the world. The pair’s grandfather and father were very interested in textiles, antique shawls, and design, and had forged relationships with Indian artisans to create beautifully designed scarves and shawls themselves. Textiles and accessory design are part of the family DNA. Shivani and her brother have continued that legacy with the company’s new direct-to-consumer brand, seeking out independent artists with distinct and unique styles and collaborating with them on wearable, fabric versions of their artworks.

“When we find artists whose work we believe will fall beautifully on scarves,” Shivani explains, “we replicate the works exactly using computer-aided design, and we remain as true to the original artwork as possible.” Once the artworks are transferred to silk, linen, or a cashmere blend and sometimes embellished, then sold as accessories online to customers, the artists receive a commission.

Through Vismaya, some of Alison Corteen’s work has appeared on accessories sold as far afield as Hong Kong, in a department store, Alison says, and directly to various international consumers. Finding such a far-away clientele would be much more difficult and time-consuming without the wide reach of digital technology and e-commerce.

For their part, Vismaya customers can exercise their love of art despite financial and space limitations, Shivani says, by purchasing beautiful pieces as affordable, wearable accessories. “We reach out to those who love art but are limited,” she explains.

Looking forward, Shivani says Vismaya plans to expand into organic cotton and other sustainable fabrics, and it will continue its philanthropic efforts. “During the month of May,” Shivani says, “ten percent of Vismaya purchases went to the procurement of life-saving equipment for COVID-19 patients in India.” She’d like to continue that type of giving back and partner with artists who share similar values.

Alison’s work on Vismaya scarves

Alison Corteen painted our cover artwork this month. Visit her online at alisoncorteen.com. Shop Vismaya at vismaya.com.

This story appears in our June 2021 issue.

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