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Art teachers were STEAM-ing before STEAM was cool!

Monday, November 10, 2014

African Cloth Speaks--Now at the Silver Center in Plymouth, NH

I had the pleasure of attending the opening for a lovely show located at the Silver Center in Plymouth, NH called "African Cloth Speaks." I have long admired the beautiful and symbolic ceremonial cloth the people of Africa weave, print, and/or embroider and this was the perfect show to see all types of cloth from many different countries from Africa.


A close-up of Kente cloth
(image courtesy of Plymouth State University).
About the Show:
"Throughout the continent of Africa, people use cloth to speak for them. Whether the fabric represents religious affiliation, age, class status, ethnic membership, or political association, what one wears is one’s identity. Woven or dyed, imported or locally produced, wrapped, tied, or tailored—all clothing speaks clearly in the many African languages. Demonstrating ancient traditions or contemporary fads, African peoples use cloth to celebrate the vibrancy of life’s rituals from birth to death. Co-curated by Philip Peek, professor emeritus of anthropology at Drew University, and Anthropology of Religion, Ritual, and Myth students." (From www.plymouth.edu)

I was so thrilled to see real examples of Adinkra cloth and  Kente cloth since I have taught those lessons to my students in the past. For a modern take on Adinkra cloth (a great lesson on printmaking and symbolism), click here: Modern Day Adinkra Cloth. 

Project Idea:
This would be a lovely lesson to have each student create a symbol that has meaning for them, create a square, and then link them together as a class (or you could do this for your family). Children could them write about the symbol they created and what it means to them. What a wonderful group project this would make!

This close-up shows how each printed square of Adinkra fabric
is linked together using paper clips (a modern twist), traditionally,
they'd be sewn together using bright embroidery thread. 

"African Cloth Speaks" runs from November 5th-December 12th, 2014 at the Silver Center For the Performing Arts at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. For more info, visit: www.plymouth.edu.

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