As an entryway to surrounding exhibits focused upon the African collection, “Centering on Cloth: The Art of African Textiles” highlights the global scope of interactions that surround the creation, use, and circulation of cloth in Africa. With fifteen examples of cloth from northern, southern, western, and central regions of the continent, and with materials, motifs, and techniques embedded in histories of global exchange, visitors will discover powerful works of art that attest to Africa’s global presence. A 20th-century embroidered robe from northern Nigeria and late 19th-century cotton appliqué panels from Egypt with Arabic inscriptions evoke Africa’s embrace of Islam. French-imported silk in a late 19th-century cloth from Tunisia evokes a history of trade borne through colonial presence, and American “Apollo 11” commemorative motifs in a “fancy” print from Liberia that imitates Javanese batik resist-dyed cloth. Abdoulaye Konaté’s Rouge kente et monde combines weaving techniques from Ghana, cloth dyed in Mali, and a minimalist composition that emphasizes the commemorative power of African cloth.

An installation shot of "Centering on Cloth," featuring a large yellow adinkra cloth.

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