Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence
March 23–June 10, 2019
Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence showcases a new form of bead art, the ndwango (“cloth”), developed by a community of women living and working together in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Using skills passed down through generations and working “directly from the soul” (in the words of artist Ntombephi Ntobela), the Ubuhle women have created a multidimensional, contemporary art form by applying exquisite Czech glass beads onto plain black cloth, reminiscent of the Xhosa headscarves and skirts that many of the Ubuhle women wore growing up.
Ubuhle (pronounced Uh-Buk-lay) means “beauty” in the Xhosa and Zulu languages, and aptly describes the quality of light on glass that for the Xhosa people has a special spiritual significance. From every vantage point, the meticulous skill and labor that went into each work becomes strikingly apparent. A single panel can take more than 10 months to complete.
Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence was developed by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, D.C., in cooperation with Curators Bev Gibson, Ubuhle Beads, and James Green, and is organized for tour by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.
The Currier Museum’s presentation of this exhibition is generously supported by the Susan Strickler Exhibition Fund.
Additional support from Nixon Peabody | Julie and Phil Taub
Explore the exhibition brochure here, and a video about the artists below. Both were produced by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, D.C.
artist in residence
Our Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program invites artists to live and work at the museum. While in residence, artists consider the collection and community, and refresh our perspectives on the role of the museum. The program is central to the Currier Museum’s mission of connecting our audiences with art and creative thinking, whether of the past or the future. We hope to learn from our visiting artists – and be surprised by their perspectives.
Artists working in all media participate in the AIR program, which has three main components: 1) an open call to support emerging artists making socially engaged art; 2) an invitational through which artists are selected to develop special projects, commissions, or exhibitions; and 3) artist-led, community-centered public art projects in the city of Nashua, NH.
Open Call for Artist in Residence Applications
Our annual open call is currently live from October 1 – December 1, 2022. Artists who share the museum’s goal of positively impacting communities through the transformative power of art are encouraged to apply to this residency.