Super/Natural: Textiles of the Andes
Over the course of millennia, textiles were the primary form of aesthetic expression and communication for the diverse cultures that developed throughout the desert coasts and mountain highlands of the Andean region. Worn as garments, suspended on walls of temples and homes, and used in ritual settings, textiles functioned in multiple ontexts, yet, within each culture, the techniques, motifs, and messages remained consistent. This exhibition features over 60 textiles along with a small selection of ceramics from the museum’s collection that together explore the ways select Andean cultures developed distinct textile technologies and approaches to design. Despite their distinctive designs and techniques, these objects speak to shared ideas concerning everyday life, the natural world, the supernatural realm, and the afterlife, demonstrating a unified visual language that spans the Andes region from its ancient past to modern communities.
Music and Movement: Rhythm in Textile Design
From diverse cultures and eras, the textiles in this exhibition illuminated the varied ways in which designers and producers have engaged with, interpreted, and expressed rhythm. Understood here as an arrangement or repeated pattern of aural, kinetic, or visual elements, rhythm has informed a wide range of designs, both illusionistic and abstract.
Making Memories: Quilts as Souvenirs
The technically masterful and visually captivating quilts featured in this exhibition attest to the varied ways memory operates in the lives of individuals and in culture more broadly. Whether quilts serve as souvenirs of real or imaginary travels, record abstract ideas in visual form, commemorate historical events, or remember family members or friends, they construct memories even as they document them. Although many of the makers remain unknown or little known, in looking at their works it is possible to read, in part, their understandings of the world, which at times complicate contemporary notions of quilts as comforting and pleasant objects. Indeed, quilt making, which involves the choosing, piecing, layering, and stitching of disparate materials, mirrors the construction of memory, which is pieced together from diverse experiences and often edited or embellished.
Modern Velvet: A Sense of Luxury in the Age of Industry
With their plush, inviting, and often varied textures, the velvets featured in this exhibition showcased the diversity of modern velvet as well as the effects of industry on its production. From the Renaissance until the Industrial Revolution, the weaving of velvet required significant time, labor, and material investments. Industrial innovations of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, such as the Jacquard loom, allowed for faster production and encouraged the use of less costly materials, such as cotton and rayon, which made velvet available to a wider range of consumers. Despite this broader accessibility, designers and manufacturers of velvet sought to maintain its association with luxury.
The Main Dish
One of the most pervasive assumptions about the kitchen perpetuated in visual and material culture is that it is a woman’s space. The Main Dish examined the ways in which tableware and cookware produced from the 1920s to the present day reifies characteristics of the ideal homemaker. Like these objects, the homemaker is expected to be pleasing to look at while handling kitchen tasks with ease. She exists as another object adorning the kitchen, and, as such, must keep pace with changing fashions and concepts of modernity.