Global Patterns: Dress and Textiles in Africa
April 13, 2011–January 8, 2012
This exhibition focuses on the accomplishments of African weavers, dyers, bead embroiderers, and tailors, and highlights continuities, innovation, and the exchange of ideas from within and without that mark dress and textile production in Africa. More than any other artistic expression, dress and textile production in Africa demonstrates the continuous links of the Continent with the outside world. Throughout centuries, African textile artists seamlessly and joyfully integrated into their visual vocabulary new design elements and new materials such as glass beads, buttons, and fabrics that arrived as the result of trade with Europe and places as far away as India and Indonesia. They added to or transformed existing traditions, and at times created new types of textiles and garments. Beadwork among the Ndebele peoples of South Africa and the Yoruba peoples of Nigeria, Kente cloth in Ghana and Togo, and Yoruba indigo-dyed cloths called Adire are among the highlights of the display.