Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rhythm and Hues: Cloth and Culture of Mali at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in SF

While little known in the West, the West African country of Mali is home to more fiber artists and designers than most other countries in the world. Examples of Mali's extraordinary legacy of textile arts, with its vibrant colors and complex graphic statements will be presented at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco from February 5-May 2, 2010.

The exhibit will give long overdue recognition to contemporary Malian fabric artisans and highlights the enduring significance of textiles as a major form of aesthetic in Mali. Featuring works beyond the mudcloth tradition, this exhibition seeks to showcase contemporary styles and techniques which have yet to be shown in the US. Due to the expository role of cloth in daily life, both hand-dyed and factory printed kinds of popular fabrics reveal current and constantly evolving cultural trends. The pictorial nature of the prints allows the wearer to express unique and equally critical messages, such as political attitudes, educational institutions and affiliations, or social views, and public health concerns. Although the shapes of the garments remain fairly constant, the colors, patterns, designs and messages of the cloth are constantly transforming.

The museum will also showcase other forms of traditional art and craft from Mali, such as wooden puppets, and the life-sized masked and costumed figures called “marionettes” which act out village legends. Unusual calabashes and baskets are also included to show the wide variety of Malian craft and folk art. They will also explore social issues such as empowerment of women, the status of dress, women’s identity, and current trends in fabric design.

Museum of Craft & Folk Art
51 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103

For more information, read: From Timbuktu to SF, By Kris Vagner

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