A Diverse Continent: African Textiles in Context exhibition opening May

Kanga from Kenya typically have three design elements: central motif, border, and a proverb or saying usually in Swahili

The Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection is pleased to announce its latest exhibition, A Diverse Continent: African Textiles in Context. This free exhibition takes place May 9, 2019 to July 26, 2019 at the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1300 Linden Drive, Madison. A Diverse Continent showcases 36 textiles from 18 countries representing the diversity of African culture and textile-making traditions.

Basket 1997, Kenya, on loan from Sandy Winder.

Africa is, arguably, the most diverse continent in the world. Its 11.7 million square miles of land is rich in biodiversity, featuring forest, woodland, savannah, grassland, desert, wetland, and marine ecosystems. Its 54 countries and 11 territories are home to an estimated 3000 distinct ethnic groups speaking over 2000 languages. Its textiles are similarly diverse in terms of material and method. Materials ranging from raffia palm fiber to silk to recycled wire are expertly woven, knit, knotted, plaited, embroidered, beaded, stamped, painted, and dyed to create a staggering variety of textiles. A Diverse Continent will feature two dozen unique textile-making traditions from across Africa, encapsulating one facet of the continent’s staggering diversity.

A Diverse Continent, developed with the support of Sandy and Jack Winder, is the second exhibition planned for the newly opened Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. The Gallery is a permanent space dedicated to year-round, rotating displays of textiles and clothing from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.

The Gallery is open Wednesday-Friday, 10 am to 4 pm (Thursday until 7 pm) and Saturday-Sunday, 12 pm to 4 pm. Admission is free.

This first appeared on the School of Human Ecology website.