A&E Highlights – Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence

Courtesy of Currier Museum of Art.

Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence
Currier Museum of Art
Now through June 10

“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. The Currier Museum of Art’s “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. 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.

For more information, call (603) 669-6144 or visit Currier.org.

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