Central African Textiles: Art and Cultural Narrative

This weekend-long symposium brought The Textile Museum’s fall exhibition, Weaving Abstraction: Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa, to life. Join renowned scholars and authors as they shed light on why Kuba textiles are considered among the most beautiful and influential of African art forms.
Emerging in the early seventeenth century, the Kuba kingdom grew into a powerful and wealthy confederation of nearly twenty different ethnic groups located in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Kuba are renowned as masters of the textile arts and surface design. The improvisational, abstract aesthetic of Kuba textiles captivated the members of the European avant-garde movement between 1910 and 1930, and its influences can be seen through modernism, fashion, fabric design, and the decorative arts.
Six presenters placed this artistic tradition in the context of Central African culture and the world of ritual the textiles were created for, in addition to exploring the lasting influence of their striking designs. Speakers included: Patricia Darish, independent scholar; Ramona Austin, curator, Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries, Old Dominion University; Wendy Grossman, curatorial associate, the Phillips Collection; Elisabeth Cameron, Patricia & Rowland Rebele Chair in the history of art and visual culture; Enid Schildkrout, independent curator; Niangi Batulukisi, independentcurator and author.