Published: May 20, 2003
WASHINGTON, D.C. – “The Fabric of Moroccan Life,” featuring some of the finest and most important North African weavings in existence, opens at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art on June 6 and continues through September 21.
This is the first large-scale exhibit of one of the more important collections of Moroccan textiles in the United States, showcasing 67 rare, brightly colored textiles that are used in a variety of contexts — rugs, tent hangings, saddlebags and clothing. Included are woven masterworks that reflect the broad range of traditions used by the diverse cultures that were and continue to be active in Morocco during the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.
“‘The Fabric of Moroccan Life’ advances the museum’s goal to promote the arts of the entire African continent,” said museum Director Sharon Patton. “It not only reflects our commitment to present the visual arts of North Africa, but also builds on the success of past exhibitions of textiles at the museum. Just as previous exhibitions of textiles and other objects relating to daily life struck a chord with the public, this vibrant exhibition — from one of the world’s great centers of textile arts — is sure to draw in visitors.”
The brightly colored pieces, featuring lively geometric and floral designs, are from the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s world-renowned textile collection. Admiral Albert Niblack from Indiana acquired many of these works when he was stationed in Gibralter with the US Navy in the early Twentieth Century.
The exhibit explores the artistic importance of these superb weavings as well as their central role in Morocco’s urban and rural cultures. Part of an oral and creative tradition passed down through generations, the handcrafted works reflect the diversity of this North African nation’s landscape, culture and society.
To enrich this evocative picture of Moroccan life, the exhibition will also feature striking pieces of Moroccan jewelry and costumes from the same periods. Photographs, many of which were taken in the 1930s, accompany the exhibition and show how the works were used in daily Moroccan life.
“The Fabric of Moroccan Life” is organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and is under the high patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco.
The exhibit is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog. The 304-page hardbound publication features new research and field discoveries from preeminent international scholars on topics ranging from the history, geography, culture and peoples of Morocco to weaving techniques and clothing types — information never before available in one volume. Approximately 150 rdf_Descriptions — including furnishing fabrics, embroideries, costumes and clothing, and animal and tent trappings — are illustrated in color.
The museum is open 10 am to 5:30 pm daily and admission is free. The museum is at 950 Independence Avenue SW. For information, 202-357-4600 or visit nmafa.si.edu.
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