Tunic, Mask, and Headdress, Tunic: Indigo-dyed cotton weave; Headdress: fiber, palm stems and glass beads, Mask: Cotton and glass beads, Marcel & Zaira Mis Collection.

LACMA’S AFRICAN TEXTILES
By Naomi Barling

Los Angeles County Museum of Art is putting on a new show dedicated to African Textiles and Adornment from April 5, 2015–October 12, 2015. It will feature over 35 dynamic textiles and impressive headdresses and will present the thoughtful visual impact of African textiles. Produced to show a variety of techniques and a broad range of natural materials used in African dress, the show aims to give an in depth look into these century old traditions.

African body adornment uses the human body as a canvas to express an individual’s status, spiritual beliefs, or ethnic affiliation. Brilliant color, bold patterns, and captivating symbols illustrate the traditional dress of many societies throughout the African continent. Not only are garments visually compelling, they are also overloaded with emblems of power that signify the wealth, status, prestige, or even divinity of the bearer.

African body art changes the wearer into an object shaped by these bold colors, movement, textures, patterns and designs. For centuries, African dress isolated the African people; Westerners’ prejudices about Africans long poisoned the relationship between Africa and the Western world, and lead to many Africans abandoning their own distinct attire in favor of Western dress.

Let’s celebrate these exquisite traditions, and embrace each culture as it is. The show should be a reminder of the beauty of being different.

Tunic, Mask, and Headdress, Tunic: Indigo-dyed cotton weave; Headdress: fiber, palm stems and glass beads, Mask: Cotton and glass beads, Marcel & Zaira Mis Collection.
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