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Past Exhibitions

Symmetry/Asymmetry: African Textiles, Dress, and Adornment

March 23–August 25, 2013

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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.

Organization and Support

The exhibition is generously funded by the Fred and Rita Richman Special Initiative Endowment Fund for African Art.

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