Beadwork Exhibit at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum

On Sunday May 11, Mother’s Day, I was part of a group of family and friends that ventured to The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, located at 1901 Fort Place, SE, Washington, DC. A fiber arts group that had recently visited the shop had told me about an incredible beaded artwork exhibit there, and I’m so glad they did!

excerpt of one of the master beaded artworks on display in Washington, DC

The exhibit is called: Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence, featuring the work of South African artists who are working to build a self-supporting community of artists, to empower local women, and to provide a strong future for their children.

From the museum website:

“Ndwango (means ‘cloth’) is a new form of bead art developed by a community of women living and working together in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The Ubuhle (means ‘beautiful’) artists’ community was established in 1999 by local resident Bev Gibson and master beader Ntombephi Ntombela to empower local women with the means to provide for their families through their art. Using black fabric as a canvas and different colored Czech glass beads as the medium of expression, the Ubuhle community has re-imagined the longstanding beading tradition as a contemporary art form.”

The exhibit will leave you speechless! These women mount a black fabric on a frame and fill every space with beaded pattern. Because the Ubuhle techique of stitching beads onto fabric is such a slow and meticulous process, it can take up to 10 months or even more than a year to compute a large ndwango.

In January of this year the Smithsonian magazine wrote an article about this exhibit and included some detailed photographs.

Below are some photos that I took (note that the exhibit room lighting is dim to protect the works of art. I can’t recommend enough that you visit yourself if at all possible to see them in real life! The exhibit will be open through September 21, 2014. Admission is free and the museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Photo Caption Winner

We promised the name of our caption winner for last week’s blog post, randomly selected: congratulation to Amalia Parra Morusiwicz. Amalia, please email us so we can get details on shipping you your Gelly Roll Metallic pens!

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