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SU’s Lowe Art Gallery celebrates Turkish nomadic weavings in a unique exhibit
SU’s Lowe Art Gallery celebrates Turkishnomadic weavings in a unique exhibitSeptember 10, 2003Amy Schmitzaemehrin@syr.edu
What do nomads in Turkey, a collector in Iowa City and the Joe and Emily Lowe Art Gallery at Syracuse University have in common? Weaving, of course. Keith Achepohl, professor of the arts at the University of Iowa, is a leading collector of Turkish nomadic flat weaves. His collection will be on exhibit at the Lowe Gallery from Sept. 11-Oct. 5. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
“For the nomadic peoples of Turkey, dominated by herding, goat hair infiltrated every aspect of their daily lives – it was woven into tent coverings, made into modest shelters, fashioned into clothing and blankets,” says Achepohl. “This exhibit provides an opportunity to look at the utilitarian weavings made for the nomadic household.” The weavings were used for many different purposes from storing food to carrying children.
The weaving process used by the nomads was relatively simple by necessity. Large flat pieces were woven over wooden looms consisting of posts and horizontal bars, easily assembled and moved with the family. Smaller pieces were woven in panels and then stitched together. Because the front was intended to be seen, it carried the major design
“The weavings are not created by high-profile, recognizable artists,” says Edward A. Aiken, director of the Lowe Art Gallery and associate professor of art history and museum studies at SU. “In fact, they are anonymous, mostly made by women, telling the very personal stories of these people.” This is the first exhibition of work from a predominantly Muslim country at the Lowe Gallery.
The weavings were so much a part of the nomadic way of life that individual pieces can be linked to specific tribes and ethnic groups based on the designs and the dyes used. The weavings are from various locations across Turkey and represent 100 years of the art.
The traditional weaving process represented in the exhibition had been practically forgotten until it was re-taught to a group of weavers who formed a profit-sharing cooperative known as the Natural Dye Research and Development Project (DOBAG), which now supports about 400 families in western Turkey. Additionally, road building, new schools and reforestation have transformed the traditional influences on the nomadic way of life.
“Weaving has become obsolete as contemporary culture, commercial practices and synthetic dyes have intervened,” says Achepohl. “These same tribes don’t even own looms anymore. There is no longer the tradition of a daughter sitting next to her mother and grandmother at the loom to learn how to weave. The weavings are really an ode to the end of a way of life.”
“Family Holdings: Turkish Nomadic Flat Weaves” is supported by the Syracuse Symposium; U. Encounter; Division of Student Affairs; The Office of the Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts; the Fibers Program; Studio Arts Department; School of Art and Design; and Purcell’s Paint & Wallpaper Co., Inc.
The Joe and Emily Lowe Art Gallery is located in the Shaffer Art Building and is handicapped accessible. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Thursday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m., and Wednesday, noon-8 p.m. For further information call (315) 443-3127.