Exhibition: To Dye For – Ikats from Central Asia

Exhibition dates: 24 March – 29 July 2018, Washington DC


With their brilliant designs, ikats are among the most distinct fabrics produced in Central Asia. The name, derived from the Malaysian word for “to tie,” refers to the distinct technique of making these textiles: bundles of threads are painstakingly patterned by repeated binding and dyeing before being woven. In present-day Uzbekistan and the Fergana Valley, the fabric is known as abri (cloud) and the technique as abrbandi (tying clouds), referring to the fluid yet bold motifs in bright colors.

Not surprisingly, ikats caught the attention of contemporary designers, most notably Oscar de la Renta (died 2014). In 2005 de la Renta included ikat designs in his collections, an innovation that was soon followed by other designers in the United States and elsewhere. Since then ikat motifs have become ubiquitous—from couture gowns to jeans and T-shirts, and from carpets and sofa coverings to stationery and wallpapers.

This exhibition brings together about thirty of the finest historical Central Asian ikat hangings and coats from the Freer|Sackler collections, donated by Guido Goldman, as well as seven of Oscar de la Renta’s iconic creations. The aim is to explore the original use and function of these dazzling fabrics and the enduring appeal of their extraordinary designs.

This exhibition runs almost concurrently with Binding the Clouds: The Art of Central Asian Ikat at the Textile Museum, also in Washington DC

For more information visit the website of The Freer/Sackler


Exhibition: Stories of Migration – Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora

GW Textile Museum - Stories of Migration

Exhibition dates: until 4 September 2016

In Stories of Migration, artists use needle and thread to relate experiences of migration and diaspora. This timely exhibition includes works by forty-four artists, who share personal and universal stories of migration. From historic events that scattered communities across continents to today’s accounts of migrants and refugees adapting to a new homeland.

Invited artists include Hussein Chalayan, Shin-hee Chin, Aino Kajaniemi, Faith Ringgold, Consuelo Jiménez Underwood and William Adjété Wilson.

If you can’t see this exhibition in person, there is a short time-lapse video on the exhibition website, showing artist Consuelo Jiménez Underwood creating her site-specific installation, which recounts her personal experience crossing the US-Mexico border.

For more information, visit the website of the GW Textile Museum, Washington, DC, USA.

Event: Lecture – Change and Tradition in Soviet Central Asia

GW Textile Museum - Old Patterns- Lecture

Event date: 28 April 2016, 6pm

Textiles have been part of Central Asian identity for hundreds of years, peaking in the nineteenth century with the production of ikats that featured bold, original designs and vibrant colours. In the twentieth century, the Soviet Union came to power, bringing economic change and “modernization” to the region. Join the Textile Museum on 28 April for a lecture by expert Andrew Hale on the influence of revolutionary Russia on Central Asia’s textile and other traditions.

Hale is a collector, curator, and internationally recognised expert in the nomadic textiles and silk-weaving traditions of Central Asia, as well as the author of numerous articles and books on Central Asian art. During his talk, he will pull from his personal archive of over two thousand photographs documenting this region in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This lecture explores themes from the exhibition ‘Old Patterns, New Order: Socialist Realism in Central Asia’, open until 29 May.

For more information, visit the website of the GW Textile Museum, Washington DC, USA.