September 6, 2009

Bellefonte--Images from Benin and Panama

Wow--I've just received some images representing the applique work that will be in the exhibit at the Bellefonte Museum (see yesterday's post). Above is an Mola from Panama, and below is a flag by Y. Brice from Benin. What fabulous work--now I really can't wait to go see the show!
Here's an updated press release with more information about the work done in Benin and Panama:
Bellefonte Museum for Centre County
133 N Allegheny, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Museum hours are 1 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday
and Sunday and by appointment

Announces the next exhibition:
“A World of Stitches”
September 27th to December 20th, 2009
Opening reception- September 27th, from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
(Free and open to the public)

“A World of Stitches: appliqué art from Benin, Panama and Pennsylvania” is a show of the particular craft of appliqué with examples from three very different cultures. The variety of design, motif and theme afford contrast while the basic craft demonstrates the universality of appliqué. The works in the exhibition are original creations by the artists and include images from the natural world, cultural themes and symbols from holidays and celebrations.

Appliqué needlework is an international craft; from American homes to tribal ceremonies, appliqué has been around a long time and continues to be popular. Remnants of clothing decorated with pieces of fabric to form designs have been found in the tombs of persons from ancient cultures. The technique has been used to create colorful flags for royalty throughout Europe and Africa. Appliqué designs on quilts and dance costumes were very popular in the Americas during the 18th and 19th Centuries. It is assumed that appliqué owes part of its origin to supply. When fabrics were all made by hand on simple looms or imported at great expense every scrap of material was valuable.

This exhibition includes examples of appliqué used to create decorative pieces and useful objects including coverlets, wall hangings, patches for quilt making, flags and clothing. Appliqué', which is a French term, is a type of decorative needlework that involves cutting pieces of one fabric and sewing or otherwise applying them to the surface of another. An image or design is obtained by superposing patches of colored material on a basic cloth.

In our country, women have been the appliqué artists and quilters but in other cultures men created the textiles and made the textile crafts. This continues to be true in Benin (West Africa), one of the three countries featured in this exhibition. In the Kuna culture of Panama women are the textile artists. Their designs are made using many layers of fabric.

The Kuna people live on the San Blas Islands off the northern coast of Panama. Kuna women make a unique kind of appliqué work called Molas. Images in the Molas are very detailed and depict every aspect of their lives. The fabric designs are done in bright colors on dark (usually red) background. Molas range in sizes but are usually made to fit on a shirt or dress bodice.

Works in this show by Brice Abraham Yemadie are done in rich colors using fabrics and sequins. These pieces demonstrate the appliqué tradition as it has evolved in Benin, West Africa. Y. Brice was born in Benin to a family of textile artisans whose roots go back to the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin). The French artist Matisse admired this appliqué tradition and the influence can be seen in some of his works. Fon artists sold into slavery brought the appliqué tradition to the Americas.

By exhibiting examples from Benin (West Africa), Panama and our own community, we display contrasts and similarities and suggest possible origins of craftwork. Most importantly, the show demonstrates shared creativity of people from a wide variety of cultures and traditions. The exhibition curator is Patricia House.

Works in the exhibition:

Pennsylvania and environs appliqué artists,
Bonnie Buckwalter, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Aldeth Spence Christy, 1939- 2001, Maryland
Kimberly Davis, State College, Pennsylvania
Sue Reno, Columbia, (Lancaster), Pennsylvania
(Biographies of the American artists will be available at the exhibition)

Panama, Kuna Indians appliqué work by several Kuna community members

Benin (West Africa), Brice Abraham Yemadje, textile artist, Fon Community

Special appreciation is extended to Peggy Sloves and Maya Spence for lending art to the show and to the artists who loaned their works.

The exhibition is partially funded by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Borough of Bellefonte.

Accompanying programs will include craft classes for children and adults and on site activities for families visiting the show.

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