Programs & Services

Beadwork Adorns the World Opening in April

January 18th, 2018

(Santa Fe, NM) – The ultimate migrants, small glass beads travel the world and end up entering the cultural lives of people far away to be worked into a garment or an object of art.  This spring, the Museum of International Folk Art opens the exhibition, Beadwork Adorns the World, opening April 22, 2018 and running through February 3, 2019.

Whether these extraordinary glass beads come from the island of Murano (Venice, Italy) or the mountains of Bohemia (Czech Republic), where they start out is seldom where they end up.  No matter where they originate, the locale that uses them makes them into something specific to their own world view. 

This exhibition is about what happens to these beads when they arrive at their final destination, whether it be the African continent (Botswana, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa), to Borneo, to Burma, to India, Native North America to Latin America (Mexico, Bolivia to Ecuador). 

“Even though it’s titled Beadwork Adorns the World, this exhibit is not actually about beads,” said Khristaan Villela, Ph.D, Director of the Museum of International Folk Art.

According to Guest Curator, Dr. Marsha Bol, “It is about working beads resulting in beadwork, and what a collective of beads in a garment or an object reveals about the intentions of its makers or users.”

In most parts of the world, beads, having value, are used at peak moments in life.  With their luster and sparkle, used as an adornment or surface additive, they help to heighten the effect, the impact, the meaning.  These special moments in the life of the community tend to revolve around: life stages and passages - such as birth, becoming an adult, marriage, and death; power, position, or status in the community; the high meaning of the occasion - as seen in fine dress, house and animal decoration; and, communication with the spirits.

Very few cultures have ever lived in total isolation from other peoples.  Contact with others beyond the village allows for new markets and new uses for beadwork, as well as opportunities to survive creatively.

Not all beads used in the beadwork in this exhibit are made of glass.  Beads made from metal, cloth, shell, stone, and other materials worked into objects served equally well to distinguish their wearer.     

While beadwork has a lengthy history, it is truly a living art.  Although the majority of the art works in this exhibit date from the 19th – 20st centuries, there are many 21st century examples.  Beadwork today comes in many forms – it may be a continuation of an unbroken tradition, perhaps with contemporary innovations, or it may be a revival of a lost form or something entirely new.

 

About the Museum of International Folk Art: http://www.internationalfolkart.org/

Founded in 1953 by Florence Dibell Bartlett, the Museum of International Folk Art’s mission is to foster understanding of the traditional arts to illuminate human creativity and shape a humane world. The museum holds the world’s largest international folk art collection of more than 150,000 objects from six continents and over 150 nations, representing a broad range of global artists whose artistic expressions make Santa Fe an international crossroads of culture. For many visitors, fascination with folk art begins upon seeing the whimsical toys and traditional objects within the Girard Collection. For others, the international textiles, ceramics, carvings and other cultural treasures in the Neutrogena Collection provide the allure.  The museum’s historic and contemporary Latino and Hispano folk art collections, spanning the Spanish Colonial period to modern-day New Mexico, reflect how artists respond to their time and place in ways both delightful and sobering. In 2010, the museum opened the Mark Naylor and Dale Gunn Gallery of Conscience, where exhibitions encourage visitors to exchange ideas on complex issues of human rights and social justice. A division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. 706 Camino Lejo, on Museum Hill in Santa Fe, NM 87505. (505) 476-1200. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm daily, May through October; closed Mondays November through April, closed Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Events, news releases and images about activities at the Museum of International Folk Art and other divisions in the Department of Cultural Affairs can be accessed at www.media.newmexicoculture.org

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“ndn girlz / rez girlz,” 2009  Teri Greeves (b. 1970, Kiowa nation)  High-heeled canvas sneakers, glass beads  10 x 9 x 3.5 in. (25.4 x 22.9 x 8.9 cm.)  New Mexico Arts, Art in Public Places Permanent Collection  Photograph by Dan Barsotti

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