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Exhibitions Week: Echoes of the Rainforest: The Visual Arts of the Shipibo Indians

The MMWC has a huge amount of exhibition-related news. This week I devote a series of posts to highlighting some of these developments.

I sure wish I could have taken an anthropology course while in high school! Even better would have been an anthropology course that offered my classmates and I the chance to translate our studies into a public museum exhibition. Thankfully such a course is offered at the International School in Indianapolis, where a group of students have worked closely with faculty members Frédéric and Bernadette Allamel not only to develop their anthropological knowledge but to pursue specific studies of the culture and arts of the Shipibo people of the Peruvian Amazon. One culmination of these studies is the exhibition Echoes of the Rainforest: The Visual Arts of the Shipibo Indians. The exhibition opened to the public today (March 19, 2019) and will be on view at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures through December 22, 2019. The exhibition features ceramics, textiles and other remarkable objects and works of art reflective of Shipibo culture, history, and aesthetics. These works are contextualized with ethnographic photographs drawn from Bernadette and Frédéric’s fieldwork and a well-crafted exhibition script. The exhibition and the objects and images that it contains are visually stunning and the exhibition offers visitors a great deal of knowledge and insight.

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Echoes of the Rainforest: The Visual Arts of the Shipibo Indians on opening day.

I hope that everyone in Bloomington and Southern Indiana will come out for this exhibition. My quick iPhone images do not do the exhibition justice. It is a knock-out. Come see it and marvel at the work that this group of young museum anthropologists has accomplished.

Special thanks to Frédéric and Bernadette Allame and their wonderful students.

 

Exhibitions Week: Quilting Art and Tradition—People, Handcrafts, and Community Life (a.k.a. Quilts of Southwest China)

The MMWC has a huge amount of exhibition related news. This week I devote a series of posts to highlighting some of these developments.

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Huang Biyu introduces her work as a textile artist to visitors to the Yulin Museum, which is hosting the exhibition Quilting Art and Tradition–People, Handcrafts, and Community Life (the Chinese version of Quilts of Southwest China), March 16, 2019. (Photograph courtesy of the Anthropological Museum of Guangxi)

After a U.S. tour that saw the collaboratively curated exhibition Quilts of Southwest China move from the (1) Michigan State University Museum (East Lansing, Michigan, USA) to the (2) International Quilt Study Center and Museum (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA), (3) the Mathers Museum of World Cultures (Bloomington, Indiana, USA) and the (4) Museum of International Folk Art (Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA), the exhibition is now at its third stop in China. Titled in China Quilting Art and Tradition—People, Handcrafts, and Community Life, the exhibition has just opened at the (3) Yulin Museum (Yulin, Guangxi, PRC). It has previously been presented at the (1) Anthropological Museum of Guangxi (Nanning, Guangxi, PRC) and the (2) Yunnan Nationalities Museum (Kunming, Yunnan, PRC). The exhibition is one of several collaborative projects arising out of joint work supported generously by the Henry Luce Foundation and various other American and Chinese funding agencies. The American Folklore Society and the China Folklore Society are coordinating partners for the larger effort that includes the museum partnership linking the Mathers Museum of World Cultures to the MSU Museum, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Yunnan Nationalities Museum, the Anthropological Museum of Guangxi and the and the Guizhou Nationalities Museum (Guiyang, Guixzhou, PRC). The exhibition was jointly produced by the six museum partners and was co-curated by Lijun Zhang and Marsha MacDowell.

Colleagues from the three Chinese partner museums (AMGX, YNNM, GZMN) attended the exhibition opening in Yunlin as did featured textile artist Huang Biyu, who did an artist’s demonstration and worked with a large group of local students in an exploration of Chinese quilting design. Photographs from the opening events taken by Chu Chu and Li Jie of the AMGX are shared here.

Did you miss the exhibition or would you like to do a deeper dive into the world of minority textiles in Southwest China? The bilingual catalogue edited by Marsha MacDowell and Lijun Zhang is available from Indiana University Press. Find it on the press website here: http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?products_id=808361

Thanks to our friends at the AMGX for managing the Chinese tour of the jointly produced exhibition and thanks to the staff of the Yulin Museum for hosting it. It is tremendous to think that a jointly produced exhibition that first opened at the MSUM in 2015 is still traveling and reaching new audiences.

 

 

Material Culture Journalism, 7

The Material Culture students do not know about Material Culture Journalism yet. Maybe this week I’ll mention it to them. Day one was surely an overload as it was…

“450-Year-Old Painting Contains Over 100 Proverbs We Still Use Today” by Jessica Stewart on My Modern Met. (HT/BKG) https://mymodernmet.com/dutch-proverbs-pieter-bruegel #paremiology

“The Era of Easy Recycling Coming to an End” by Maggie Koerth-Baker for FiveThirtyEight. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-era-of-easy-recycling-may-be-coming-to-an-end/ #waste

“China’s Destructive Laser Rifle has a Half-Mile Range” by Jefrey Lin and P.W. Singer for Popular Science. https://www.popsci.com/china-laser-rifle-energy-weapon #conflict

“Never mind killer robots—here are six real AI dangers to watch out for in 2019” by Will Knight and Karen Has for MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612689/never-mind-killer-robotshere-are-six-real-ai-dangers-to-watch-out-for-in-2019/ #threats

“Persian Traditional Crafts: Traditional Bookbinding” on YouTube (Seen First on on Facebook). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgQ-x-1hRQ4&vl=en #handcraft

“The Poor Can’t Afford Not to Wear Nice Clothes” by Tressie McMillan Cottom in Medium. (HT/RG) https://medium.com/s/story/the-poor-cant-afford-not-to-wear-nice-clothes-b015f6a79561 #racism #class #inequality

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Picturing Change, Seeing Continuity: Hmong Story Cloths

It is a new year and a new semester at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures and that means new exhibitions! There are new exhibitions still to open and other new exhibitions that are now open and worthy of discussion here, but I begin with a note on an small but colorful and (I hope) engaging exhibition that I curated. It is titled Picturing Change, Seeing Continuity: Hmong Story Cloths. In it, we present a new collection that colleagues and I made during October 2017 in St. Paul (Minnesota, USA).* The exhibition explores cultural history and the current state of Hmong American story cloths through the work of two Hmong textile artists living the in the Twin Cities.

The ten embroidered, dyed, and appliqué pieces in the collection and the exhibition were made by Sy Vang Lo or her sister Khang Vang Yang. Both are White Hmong and experienced the dramatic Hmong American history shaped by difficult moves from Laos through Thai refugee camps to the United States. We met and spoke with Mrs. Lo at her excellent shop in the Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul and I here express our thanks for the considerable amount of time that she spent with us educating us about Hmong life in Minnesota and in Southeast Asia as well as about her work as a textile artist and businesswoman.

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Thanks also go to all of the museum staff and students who worked on this exhibition and our other spring 2019 offerings. From registering and cataloging new collections to designing and installing exhibitions to promoting and programming them, there is a lot of behind the scenes work in everything that the museum does.

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If you are curious about the textiles, please come see the exhibition open through July 26, 2019. If you would like a food tour of Hmongtown Market, Saveur Magazine published one in 2015.

*The group that visited Hmongtown Market and met with Mrs. Lo were myself (Jason Jackson), Jon Kay, Lijun Zhang, and Carrie Hertz. We were in Minneapolis for the 2017 American Folklore Society meetings.

 

Material Culture Journalism, 6

The new year has promoted a lot of material culture journalism related to lifestyle changes and consumption habits. Some of the items here fit into this frame, including older stores being recirculated on social media.

“The Norwegian Art of the Packed Lunch” by Zaria Gorvett for BBC. http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20190103-the-norwegian-art-of-the-packed-lunch #foodways #work

“210-Foot Fatberg Blocks Sewers of English Seaside Town” by Iliana Magra in the New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/08/world/europe/uk-fatberg-sidmouth.html #infrastructure #consumption #habits

“The Mysterious, Stubborn Appeal of Mass-Produced Fried Chicken. Why do so many accomplished chefs call Popeyes their favorite fried chicken?” by Adam Clair for Vice. https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/8xppqv/the-mysterious-stubborn-appeal-of-mass-produced-fried-chicken #foodways #industrialprocess

“The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter. A cluttered home can be a stressful home, researchers are learning” by Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi for New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/03/well/mind/clutter-stress-procrastination-psychology.html #consumption #psychology

“The Economics of Tidying Up” by Bourree Lam for The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/05/an-economist-reads-marie-kondo/392921/ #consumption #economics

“What We Gain from Keeping Books – and why it Doesn’t Need to be ‘Joy’” by Anakana Schofield for The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/07/what-we-gain-from-keeping-books-and-why-it-doesnt-need-to-be-joy-marie-kondo #consumption #culture

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Shreds and Patches in 2018

Which Shreds and Patches posts were most popular in 2018? These were:

  1. What is the current status of confidentiality and non-disclosure policies at HAU?
  2. Coconut Rattles in Florida and Oklahoma
  3. What is the Museum Anthropology Review Business (Labor) Model?
  4. The IU Gateway Office and Tsinghua University Art Museum (12/8)
  5. The University of Tartu, Appreciated
  6. The Mallet: Making a Maul in a Baiku Yao Community
  7. Beijing’s 798 Art Zone, Revisited, Again (12/9)
  8. The Ethnic Costume Museum at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology (12/9)
  9. Workshop on Ethnographic Methods in Museum Folklore and Ethnology
  10. Pot Holders, Or William C. Sturtevant Collections Research, Day 1

Numbers 1 and 3 arose in the context of the systemic problems with Hau that became widely known and discussed beginning last summer. Numbers 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9 relate to collaborative work in China. Numbers 2 and 10 are retro posts that I wrote back in 2012 and relate to studies of the William C. Sturtevant Collection at the National Museum of Natural History. Number 5 is a post related to my 2019 travels in Estonia.

Shreds and Patches has featured 580 posts spread over about 4123 days since my first post, The site software reports 101,258 views from 30,545 visitors. The peak week for 2018 was June 11-17, when the Hau inspired posts appeared. That week saw 2076 views from 1675 visitors. Peak wordiness came in 2011 with 41,403 words. This year saw 22,681 words (prior to this post).

Thanks to everyone who reads and appreciates the posts and special appreciation goes to the those who wrote guest posts during 2018. Happy new year everyone.

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Material Culture Journalism, 5

Material culture journalism, continued. Thanks to those who share stories…

Gritty’s Evolution from Googly-eyed Hockey Mascot to Meme to Leftist Avatar, Explained | On our burning hunger for moral clarity and the unexplainable heart of the universe” by Todd VanDerWerff in Vox. (HT/AZ) #antisystemicmovements #mascots #costume

Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton to Step Down from Top Spot in June” by Peggy McGlone and Maura Judkis in The Washington Post #museums

Missouri Family Hand-makes Cookie Cutters in any Shape you can Imagine” by AOL/In The Know (HT/Missouri Folk Arts Program) #smallbusiness #foodways

The Juul Fad Is Far Bigger Than I Ever Would Have Guessed” by Kevin Drum in Mother Jones. #capitalism #publichealth

Year End Obituary: Charles Harrison, Inventor Of The Plastic Garbage Can” by NPR/All Things Considered. #AfricanAmericanHistory #Sears #IndustrialDesign

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Material Culture Journalism, 4

Five Siblings Run the U.S.’s Only Baijiu Distillery in Their Mom’s Backyard” by Anne Ewbank in Atlas Obscura. (HT/TL) #foodways

Chanel Shoes, but no Salary: How One Woman [Anthropologist] Exposed the Scandal of the French Fashion Industry” by Stefanie Marsh in The Guardian. (HT/MB) #exploitation #precarity #fashion

New App Uses Indigenous Basketry Patterns to Teach Math Concepts” by Diane Luckow in Simon Fraser University News. (HT/KH?) #basketry #technology #ethnomathematics

The Dollar Store Backlash Has Begun” by Tanvi Misra in Citylab. #inequality #retail

Dollar Stores Are Targeting Struggling Urban Neighborhoods and Small Towns. One Community Is Showing How to Fight Back” by Marie Donahue and Stacy Mitchell at Institute for Local Self-Reliance. #inequality #retail #urban&rural

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Reviews for Material Vernaculars Titles

The Material Vernaculars book series, published by the Indiana University Press in partnership with the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, is maturing. Four titles have now appeared and one more (Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community) is in production. Additional potential titles are under consideration or being finalized. The works already published have now begun being reviewed. Here are some of those reviews. Thanks as always to the journals that seek reviews of scholarly books. It is hard work soliciting, securing, editing and publishing such reviews, but they are of great value and are appreciated.

Folk Art and Aging by Jon Kay

Bronner, Simon. 2017. “Review of Folk Art and Aging: Life Story Objects and Their Makers by Jon Kay.” Journal of Folklore Research Reviews. http://www.jfr.indiana.edu/review.php?id=2104

Haymond, Raven. 2018. “Review of Folk Art and Aging: Life Story Objects and Their Makers by Jon Kay.” Western Folklore 77 (3-4): 350-352.

Mundell, Kathleen. 2018. “Review of Folk Art and Aging: Life Story Objects and Their Makers by Jon Kay.” Journal of American Folklore 131 (520): 222-223.

Stephens, David P. 2016. “Review of Folk Art and Aging: Life Story Objects and Their Makers by Jon Kay.” Material Culture Review 82-83. https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/MCR/article/view/25633/29754

Framing Sukkot by Gabrielle Berlinger

Carter, Thomas. 2018. “Review of Framing Sukkot: Tradition and Transformation in Jewish Vernacular Architecture by Gabrielle Berlinger.” Journal of Folklore Research Reviews. http://www.jfr.indiana.edu/review.php?id=2236

Material Vernaculars edited by Jason Baird Jackson

Deutsch, James I. 2018. “Review of Material Vernaculars: Objects, Images, and Their Social Worlds edited by Jason Baird Jackson.” Western Folklore 77 (1): 94-96.

Yohe, Jill Ahlberg. 2018. “Review of Material Vernaculars: Objects, Images, nd Their Social Worlds edited by Jason Baird Jackson.” Journal of Anthropological Research 74 (1): 132-133. https://doi.org/10.1086/696164

It is too new for reviews yet, but don’t miss The Expressive Lives of Elders edited by Jon Kay.

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Material Culture Journalism, 3

Thanks to all the friends sharing the material culture journalism. Here is a new batch. The passing of Shan Goshorn is particularly sad to note.

The making of the Finnish First Lady’s tree-based eco dress. A guide to the creation of Jenni Haukio’s Independence Gala gown, from a forest in Joensuu to the red carpet at the Independence Day reception in Helsinki” by YLE/UUTISET (HT/HV) #craft #innovation

Shan Goshorn, Whose Cherokee Art Was Political, Dies at 61” by Alex Lemonides in the New York Times. (HT/JL) #loss #indigenous #art

Creating Tradition” [A Profile of Florida Seminole Artist Brian Zepeda] by Tina Marie Osceola in Life in Naples Magazine. [HT/Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Museum] #indigenous #craft #art

Why We Cover High Fashion” [“The Times’s fashion director and chief fashion critic reflects on what makes haute couture relevant'”] by Vanessa Friedman at the New York Times. #elitism #dress

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