ExhibitionsSymmetry/Asymmetry: African Textiles, Dress, and Adornment
Past Exhibition

Symmetry/Asymmetry: African Textiles, Dress, and Adornment

March 23 – August 25, 2013


Man's Prestige Cloth by Shoowa Artists (Kasai Province)

Shoowa Artists (Kasai Province)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Man’s Prestige Cloth, first half of 20th century
Raffia palm fiber
26 x 14 inches (66 x 35 cm)
Collection of Michael Mack

Symmetry/Asymmetry draws attention to African textiles as abstract works of art to highlight their aesthetic dimension. At the same time the exhibition suggests a synaesthetic experience as these once kinetic works engaged multiple senses.

Over 40 works of African textiles, dress, and adornment – including objects from throughout the continent, from South Africa to the Sahara – are presented. A broad spectrum of art spanning more than 7,000 years of artistic innovation, from a Neolithic stone bracelet to twentieth and twenty-first century commemorative cloths emblazoned with the faces of Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, and President Obama, are included. A magnificent selection of indigo cloths from West Africa and Kuba textiles from Central Africa are also presented. The exhibition provides a surprisingly diverse range of symmetric and asymmetric designs.