If you were to take a walk around the streets of Bochum, a city once noted for its coal mining in western Germany, you would come across small bronze plaques slightly protruding from the sidewalk in front of many houses….
Now On View at SUArt Galleries: ‘It’s A Wrap!: West African Textiles’
The Syracuse University Art Galleries presents “It’s A Wrap! West African Textiles,” an exhibition featuring over 40 examples of textiles and their accompanying tools. Drawn from geographically proximate locales in West Africa, including Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, the textiles on display exemplify woven, stamped, appliqued and resist-dyed techniques.
Organized by Professor Michelle Gilbert, Department of Fine Arts at Trinity College, Connecticut, and featuring objects on loan from the collections of Gilbert and the Amyas Naegele and Eve Glasberg Collection in New York, this exhibition is sponsored in part by the Maxwell African Scholars Union, in the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs.
The exhibition is on view from through Dec. 23 in the Shaffer Art Building. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; and Thursdays 11 a.m.-8 p.m. The galleries will be closed for University holidays; please visit the website for updated information.
In all cultures, clothing does more than simply cover the body. It communicates subtle visual messages about the owner. What is worn and how it is worn can be interpreted as a statement of flamboyant ostentation or modest conservatism. It may signal the prominence of a wealthy and powerful king, the presence of a deity or the existence of a mad man.
The textile culture in West African is very old—weaving is documented at Igbo Ukwu, Nigeria in the 9th and 10th centuries, and by the 11th century weaving flourished in Mali. Used in a variety of ways, African textiles can be presented as gifts to the living and the dead; used in a bride’s dowry; displayed at weddings and funerals; used as blankets for protection from the cold and mosquitoes; spread on the ground for a chief to walk over or placed in layers to cover his palanquin or funeral bed. Textiles are worn to flatter or flirt, to display power or express silent insults, or to show common group identity. The artists’ aesthetic sensibility is revealed in the cloth’s intricate patterns, textures and technical flair.
Select programming associated with the exhibition includes a special gallery talk with Gilbert, on Thursday, Nov. 10, at 6 p.m. The exhibition and programs are free and open to the public. Complete information and related programming is available by visiting the website at http://suart.syr.edu/.