Denison Art Gallery Showcases University's Permanent Collections
Posted: September 12, 2005
A new Denison University art exhibition, "Around the World and Back Again: Granville and Denison & Textiles of the Burma Hills," celebrates the Granville Bicentennial by linking the collections of the University and David and Barbara Fraser. Featuring a variety of textiles from the hill groups of Burma, the exhibition opens with a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Friday (Sept. 23) in the Burke Hall Art Gallery. The exhibit will be open daily from 1 to 4 p.m. through Dec. 11 (except the week of Thanksgiving) and is free and open to the public.
"Around the World and Back Again" displays objects gathered by people associated with Denison or the town of. The focus of the exhibition is on textiles, which are easily transported and thus were collected extensively by travelers. Denison's textile collection is particularly impressive in two main areas: South American textiles from the Kuna culture of the San Blas Islands, Panama, and textiles from Burma.
The exhibition uses these traditional textiles as a window onto the minority cultures of the hill groups in Burma and also will include historic photographs and photographs taken during field research. Baptist missionaries associated with the University,or the Fannie Doane home gathered many of Denison's Burmese textiles. When the University decided to form an art gallery in the 1960s, the missionaries participated by sending hundreds of objects to the gallery. They primarily worked with groups living in the mountainous regions of Burma, rather than with the lowland Buddhists who were hard to convert to Christianity. As a result, the collection has many artifacts from the highland cultures of the Karen, Kachin, Chin, and Lahu.
The most distinctive textile from the Kachin group is a wrapped skirt complexly decorated with supplementary weft figures. Textiles from the Lahu region emphasize applique and embroidery; the exhibit features a bold Lahu woman's coat and shoulder bag. The Karen textiles include women's bold, large tunics decorated with embroidery and Job's-tear seeds, tube skirts, and ornate headbands, illustrating a wide range of patterns. The Chin will be represented in the exhibit by an example of the highest status man's indigo blanket, a fine old silk shirt heavily decorated with figures, and a breast cloth.
In addition, Burmese silks, South American Kuna molas and Chinese rubbings will be featured in the show. Burmese silk is one of the most highly prized fabric for clothing in Burma and because of the complexity of the weave, it takes two people to weave an inch or two of the fabric per day. Due to the generosity of the missionaries to Burma, Denison has several of these silk tube skirts and cloth fragments, some of which date from the mid 19th century. The mola is a blouse worn by the women of the Kuna people, who live along the Atlantic coast of Panama. Molas are made using a very complex technique called reverse applique. Layers of different colors of cotton cloth are stacked and stitched together, and the design is cut through the layers. The art gallery also will display a small group of recently acquired Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) tomb pottery and some rubbings of Han images made by Denison graduate Daniel S. Dye (class of 1907) during his time in China (1908-1949).
CALENDAR INFORMATION: Denison University,A new Denison art exhibition featuring a variety of textiles from the hill groups of Burma "Around the World and Back Again: Granville and Denison & Textiles of the Burma Hills," opens 5:30-7:30 p.m., Friday (Sept. 23) in Burke Hall Art Gallery. It will run from 1-4 p.m. daily through Dec. 11 (except the week of Thanksgiving). Free and open to the public. Please call (740) 587- 5713 to confirm information.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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