Where lies thy carpet,
there is thine home.
Where lies thy carpet,
there is thine home.
That Mideastern saying may have carried weight in the old days, but now, with modern life all but forcing older societies to leave tradition behind, something is lost in the translation.
That comes across in the Fullerton Museum Center's "Textiles From Vanishing Cultures" exhibit. The show--featuring more than 40 rugs, shawls, serapes, blankets, saddlebags and other pieces from around the globe, especially the Third World--documents weaving craftsmanship while sadly pointing out that it's a dying art.
"The cultures from which these textiles come are fast vanishing," said curator Valerie Sharaf Justin. "Some have already been absorbed as the (modern) pressure on semi-nomadic and nomadic people to settle increases. Most weaving stops when peoples move into faster-paced urban settings, where values differ vastly from those of tribal societies."
To underscore her point, Justin noted that all the displayed items were made during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in North Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North America. The cultures--including those in Afghanistan, Iran, Peru and Mexico, and the Navajos in this country--have already changed drastically, leaving doubts as to the future of their weaving.
The exhibit demonstrates how creating textiles was an integral part of these societies, both as an art form and a practical necessity. They needed carpets for the floors, shawls to keep warm and saddlebags to carry provisions. But within this utilitarian need, weavers found self-expression.
"The best of them have an intensity of design which expresses feelings and juxtaposes color and motifs to create artistic tension and a sense of genuine movement," Justin said.
She said that women did most of the work, with wives and daughters dutifully taking care of the home. But they were more than just household drudges--they were expected to be agile with the loom and make textiles both useful and pleasing.
The importance of the role is summed up, however wryly, in an old Turkish saying mentioned in the show's program: "No food for a woman who cannot weave a carpet."
A recent visitor to the exhibit, Martha Pender of Orange, was impressed by the role women played in textile-making: "It tells me that they were very influential (in the) creative side of these groups. They were in charge of the home and made art too."
Her husband, Joe, agreed but was more interested in the weavings' sophistication. "All the patterns and colors are really lovely," he said. "They also seem durable, which must have been important to them."
He particularly liked the saddlebags and the long, rectangular prayer rugs called \o7 kilims\f7 . A stand-out, he and his wife said, was a 6-by-11-foot \o7 kilim \f7 from Turkey's central Anatolia region.
As with most of the items, the rug features geometric patterns, this time arranged in zigzags in shades of brown, burgundy and blue. They surround three large multicolored diamond designs dominating the \o7 kilim's \f7 center.
"I'd love to take that and put it in our condo," said Martha Pender.
* What: The Fullerton Museum Center's "Textiles From Vanishing Cultures" exhibit.
* When: Noon to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays. Through April 30.
* Where: The Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave., Fullerton.
* Whereabouts: Take the Riverside (91) Freeway to Harbor Boulevard and head north to Chapman Avenue. Go east to Pomona Avenue and then head south.
* Wherewithal: $2.50 for adults, $2 for senior citizens and $1.50 for students. Free to children younger than 12.
* Where to call: (714) 738-6545.
IN ORANGE: CANVAS RECONSIDERED
"Fabrication: formal, found and funky," at Chapman University's Guggenheim Gallery through April 20, offers works by emerging and established artists who find new uses for the canvas or inventively replace it with other materials. Artists include Kim Dingle and Carole Caroompas. (714) 997-6729.
IN LOS ANGELES: AMERICAN FESTIVAL
Four American-themed shows are at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this month. Best of all is "The Figure in American Sculpture," which reveals the inventiveness, wit and pathos conveyed by numerous famous and obscure artists in the first four decades of this century. (213) 857-6111.
IN RIVERSIDE: WESTON & MAPPLETHORPE
"The Garden of Earthly Delights: Photographs by Edward Weston and Robert Mapplethorpe," at the California Museum of Photography at UC Riverside through April 30, investigates intriguing parallels and contrasts among the nudes, still lifes and portraits by the two photographers. (909) 784-3686.