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'Binding the Clouds: The Art of Central Asian Ikat' Celebrates the Artistic Innovation of 19th-Century Uzbekistan

New Exhibition at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum Explores the Dyeing Technique Known as Binding the Clouds

March 8, 2018

Four visitors look at colorful artworks in gallery
Amelia Thompson: [email protected], 202-994-6461 
Maralee Csellar: [email protected], 202-994-6460
WASHINGTON (March 8, 2018)-"Binding the Clouds: The Art of Central Asian Ikat," at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, will explore the art of dyeing known in Central Asia as abrband, or binding the clouds. The exhibition, which features artworks recently donated to the museum, opens Saturday, March 10, and will be on view through July 9.
During the 19th century, the refuge towns of modern-day Uzbekistan were centers of high artistic innovation, most notably in the elegant art of creating ikat fabrics. These fabrics were given their name based on the technique used to decorate them, in which parts of the yarns are bound to resist dye permeation. The practice of binding, dyeing and unbinding is repeated for each color. The complexities of this process required craftspeople to be highly skilled in the art. In addition to their vibrant colors, these textiles are widely recognized for their bold, imaginative designs.
"The extraordinary ikats in this exhibition demonstrate the development and progression in the design and technique of this artistic phenomenon over the span of a century," senior curator Sumru Belger Krody said. "The varied designs are reminiscent of the line, form and color focus of abstract art and expressionist painting."
Central Asian ikat fabric was commercially manufactured for both urban and rural consumption and made into objects such as furnishing and clothing. It was considered valuable and prestigious due to the sophisticated production sequence and high cost of the silk used.
Guido Goldman's Ikat Collection
"Binding the Clouds" showcases 32 ikat hangings from the collection of 100 textiles donated to The Textile Museum's collections by Guido Goldman. A lifelong lover of the arts, Goldman became enchanted with Central Asian ikats through a chance sighting of a colorful ikat hanging in a New York gallery's window in 1975.
Goldman will be honored with the George Hewitt Myers Award on March 23, at the Night on the Silk Road Gala. The award recognizes Goldman's efforts to preserve, educate and generate international appreciation of the art of Central Asian ikat. Honorary chairs for the gala are Henry A. and Nancy Kissinger.
Support for the exhibition and related programs and events is generously provided by the Bruce P. and Olive W. Baganz Fund for The Textile Museum Exhibitions and Publications, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Guido Goldman, Roger and Claire Pratt, and Whiting-Turner.
Continuing Exhibitions at the Museum
"Vanishing Traditions: Textiles and Treasures from Southwest China" opened Feb. 24 and showcases the elaborate textiles, jewelry and accessories minority cultures made in southwest China for community celebrations. The festival costumes featured are new to the museum's collections and explore these traditions now endangered by modernization.
The recently opened "Textiles 101" is an ongoing interactive exhibition that allows visitors to explore the basic textile elements of fiber, structure and color, and the creative choices that influence textile design.
Visit the museum's website for the latest information on exhibitions and educational programs: