Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles

August 19, 2017 - December 17, 2017
The Carlos Museum will showcase its remarkable textile collection in Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles. The exhibition explores the staggering breadth and depth of indigenous American fiber arts ranging from weavings in cotton and camelid hair, to feather work and items made from plants. The museum’s permanent collection contains over 700 examples, of which 149 will be on display, many for the first time. View the e-catalogue for the exhibition here.
 
Fiber arts were of the highest importance among the First Nations, or indigenous peoples of the Americas. Ancient Andean as well as modern Andean, Panamanian, and Guatemalan cultures will be featured in the exhibition, including a wide range of techniques such as three-dimensional embroidery, tie-dye, brocade, and tapestry. The exhibition will explore how these beautiful and complex textiles embody the traditional values, materials, and ideas of their respective indigenous cultures, while also embracing new techniques, imagery, and types of objects as they change during colonial and modern times. 
 
The Andean coastal desert preserves very ancient fibers--one piece in the exhibition is nearly 2000 years old--which will allow visitors to appreciate the world’s longest continuous textile record. Values embedded in the Quechua language, spoken by the Inka and millions of their descendants, can be traced even as guitars, horses, and other Western elements enterd the artistic vocabulary. The Guna of coastal and island Panama maintain a link to age-old indigenous design in their cut-cloth blouse panels (dulemola), yet they incorporate contemporary imagery such as the Trix Rabbit. The Maya of Guatemala have always created extraordinary garments for themselves, and more recently for sculptures of Catholic saints. The large selection of Maya textiles in the exhibition includes brocaded blouses from the town of Chichicastenango as they transformed during the 20th century, as well as examples of the varying degrees of Spanish influence in wedding dress, male clothing, and altar cloths. 
 
The exhibition is curated by award-winning writer, Emory Professor of Art History, and Carlos Museum Faculty Curator of the Art of the Americas, Dr. Rebecca Stone. 

Exhibition sponsors:
Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles has been made possible through generous support from Bank of America and the Bank of America Art Conservation Project. Funding for the digital catalogue provided by the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship.