Organized by Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, DC
Curated by Bev Gibson, founder of Ubuhle Women and James Green, co-curator
Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence showcases a new form of bead art, the ndwango, developed by a community of women living and working together in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The six artists featured in the exhibition call their paintings in beads ndwangos, which translates as “cloth” or “rag”. The black fabric on which the Ubuhle women work is reminiscent of the Xhosa headscarves and skirts which many of them grew up wearing. By stretching this textile like a canvas, the artists transform the flat cloth into a contemporary art form colored with Czech glass beads.
Using skills handed down through generations, and working in their own unique style “directly from the soul,” according to artist Ntombephi Ntobela, the women create abstract as well as figurative subjects for their ndwangos.
Ubuhle means “beauty” in the Xhosa and Zulu languages and it describes the shimmering quality of light on glass that for the Xhosa people has a particular spiritual significance. From a distance each panel seems to be formed from a continuous surface, but as each tiny individual bead catches the light the viewer becomes aware of the meticulous skill that went into each work and the scale of ambition: a single panel can take more than 10 months to complete.
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Number of Works: 31 beaded mosaics, plus 6 photographs, and a video
Security: Moderate security
Shipping: IA&A makes all arrangements; exhibitors pay outgoing shipping costs within the contiguous US
Booking Period: 12 weeks
Past and Future Venues
Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH
June 24 - September 10, 2017
Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI
January 21 - March 31, 2018
National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, Cedar Rapids, IA
May 12 - September 16, 2018
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA
October 18, 2018 - February 24, 2019
Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH
March 23 - June 16, 2019
Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO
August 16 - November 10, 2019
Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, Melbourne FL
February 1 - April 25, 2020
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL
August 8 - October 18, 2020
Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, FL
November 14, 2020 - January 24, 2021
March - December 2021
*All tour dates can be customized to meet your scheduling needs. Please inquire for more information.