navy and cream woven quilt detail

Exhibitions

Upcoming

Malkha | Madison

woman in a darkened room wearing a white cotton kurta
Saravanakumar/Ecotone

Launching (Online): Summer 2021
The Malkha | Madison project seeks to deepen our understanding of the value of artisan production in the contemporary post-industrial world. Indian artisan cotton textile production is a field that links the pre-industrial past to the post-industrial future. In keeping with the CDMC’s three pillars—the study of textiles, design thinking, and material culture—we hope to convey the vibrancy of the field by sharing the vision, process, and material culture of Malkha, a South India-based textiles commons. One person at a time, Malkha is rebuilding links among farmers, weavers, designers, and consumers to imagine a future for a cotton textile that is “democratic, equitable, sustainable, and restorative.”

Lace from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection

decorative lace form on a black background in the shape of a pair of gloves with the depiction of a woman holding a bird.Opening in the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery: Fall Semester 2021
Lace is the single largest category of objects in the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. How do we make sense of this ubiquitous yet enigmatic material? From fine art on the wall to intimate garments on the body, lace surrounds us yet often goes unnoticed. This exhibition will investigate the complex historical, cultural, technical, and aesthetic histories of lace, changing the ways visitors understand this strong, delicate, and beautiful material.

Politics at Home: Textiles as American History

quilt on a black background sewn in red, white, and blue fabric with a backwards U.S. flag at the center.Opening in the Ruth Davis Design Gallery: Fall Semester 2021
Featuring work from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection ranging from the 18th through the 21st centuries, this exhibition includes a range of domestic textiles that demonstrate how public discourses of American politics have always had a meaningful presence within the home. Through production, consumption, and conscious display of textiles, including quilts, pillowcases, furnishing fabric samples, handkerchiefs, and ornaments, objects in the home signal political beliefs and ideals. Join us in exploring participation and representation in American politics in the home through textiles.

Current Online Exhibitions

The Portal: A Step into the Past

graphic logo for the exhibition that includes a swirling blue door and the title Online Launch: June 2021
The Center for Design and Material Culture and the Design Studies Department present The Portal: A Step into the Past, a juried online exhibition featuring student-designed historic interiors. The virtual installation will be juried by Shana McCaw, Brent Budsberg, and Jonathan Prown and will showcase selected period rooms designed by students of the course “DS 422: History of Architecture.” The projects will represent a wide range of design styles and a variety of software and media.

Design 2021: Annual Juried Student Exhibition

Logo for the Design 2021 exhibition featuring cascading paint chipsOnline Launch: June 2021
The Center for Design and Material Culture and the Design Studies Department present Design 2021, a virtual edition of SoHE’s annual juried student exhibition. UW–Madison students of all majors were invited to submit their best design work generated through Design Studies courses over the past four semesters for consideration. Work is being juried by two design industry judges (textile and fashion designer Mary Jaeger and interior designer Maya Mockert).

2021 Design Studies Second Year MFA Exhibition: Henry Obeng and Nora Renick Rinehart

dark blue cyanotype image of a plant on red-pink paper.Online Launch: May 7, 2021
Featuring handmade paper and quilted flannel, Design Studies MFA students Henry Obeng and Nora Renick Rinehart present new works for the Design Studies Second Year MFA Exhibition. Obeng’s exhibit The Trail builds connections between his experiences as a surveilled non-citizen and plant specimens in the UW Herbarium through hundreds of cyanotype images presented on handmade paper using pulp produced from recycled Wisconsin Badger cotton T-shirts. Rinehart’s exhibit Flannel Futures features textile and printmaking work that operate within the fields of queer abstraction and queer futurism to explore the reflections and refractions between the past, present and future. By combining traditional quilting techniques with the language of queer fashion, the works engage the contradiction between the mundanity of the iconic lesbian flannel shirt and the gay bravado of fringe and piping.

2021 Design Studies Master in Fine Arts Exhibition: Amanda Thatch and Han-ah Yoo

installation image of hung textiles and projections on a mannequinOnline Launch: April 16, 2021
In the culmination of three years of intensive work, Design Studies MFA candidates Amanda Thatch and Han-ah Yoo present their thesis work in two exhibitions. “Tromp as Writ,” Thatch’s body of work, explores the interaction of text and pattern through hand-woven images derived from observations while walking, an activity the artist found solace in during the pandemic. Yoo’s “Relationships: Invisible, but Extant” brings together expressive textile and video artworks, inspired by nature and the body, that are designed to provoke awareness of the adverse ecological impacts of the fashion industry.

Woven Together: Hello Loom at Copenhagen Contemporary

Photograph of a miniature wooden hand-held loom with words

Online Launch: Fall 2020. This exhibition explores themes of materiality, process and international collaboration. In 2019, University of Wisconsin-Madison associate professor Marianne Fairbanks and textile artist Sofia Hagström Møller invited a group of professional Danish weavers to contribute pieces produced on Fairbanks’s hand-held Hello Looms for a show at Copenhagen Contemporary. The resulting 37 weavings use a wide variety of materials and explore a multitude of compositions.

Rapid Response Mask Collecting Project

Color photograph of a face mask mounted on a glass head form. Mask is made of a olive green cloth material with printed pink two-fingered hand designs with the words “one of us” also appearing in pink text inside the hand shapes.

Online Launch: Fall 2020. Since March of 2020 face masks have become our central tool in the fight against COVID-19. This exhibition seeks to understand the new ways in which textiles play a critical role in our daily lives as protective face coverings. To do so, it uses a “rapid response” collecting model to select masks for the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection which mark this contemporary moment as historic.

Sofia Hagström Møller: Weaving Threads Through Time and Space

Color photograph for exhibition

Online Launch: Fall 2020. This exhibition of Danish fiber artist Sofia Hagström Møller’s work investigates the roots of Scandinavian textile design and celebrates the legacy that American weaving owes to these traditions. By translating her grandmother’s patterns through the digital technology available to her during a recent residency at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hagström Møller’s work transcends language and travels through time and space.

What Would a Microbe Say?

crocheted versions of hands, arms, legs, and feet on a backlit light board.Intended to be Installed in Gallery: April 29, 2020 – June 7, 2020. Online Launch: Summer 2020. In this exhibition, artist Sonja Bäumel, collaborating with Helen Blackwell of the UW–Madison Department of Chemistry, explores the perception of what bodies are made of through microbes and the body’s surface. Bäumel reimagines skin as a fictional layer of communication, a multi-being landscape linked to the discovery of the human microbiome, which established the body as a walking biotope. Through the works in this exhibition, Bäumel examines how scientific knowledge has influenced the way we have perceived and interpreted the human body historically, and how this impacts our current society and the cultural contexts in which we act.

Harmony and Evolution: An Exhibition of the Chinese American Art Faculty Association

crop of Installed in Gallery: February 26, 2020 – April 5, 2020. Online Launch: Summer 2020. This exhibition showcases the work of art and design faculty from across the country to address the issue of how art and design express cultural integration and creativity. The Chinese-American Art Faculty Association (CAAFA) is a national organization with over 130 members representing art and design in the U.S. and China. This iteration of the CAAFA’s biennial exhibition represents the first time the association has exhibited in the Midwest and draws from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s focus on diversity, inclusion, and creativity.

UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage

Image of a sculpture of a miniature bombed interior installed inside a suitcase.

Installed in Gallery: February 5 – April 3, 2020. Online Launch: Summer 2020. This exhibition seeks to humanize the word “refugee.” This multimedia exhibit features the sculptures of Mohamad Hafez, a Syrian-born, Connecticut-based artist and architect who re-creates war-torn domestic interiors within suitcases. Pieces from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection were placed in dialogue with UNPACKED, providing a unique opportunity to reinterpret the School of Human Ecology holdings.

Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas

Promo image for

Installed in Gallery: September 5 – December 6, 2019. Online Launch: Summer 2020. From the Andes to the Great Lakes, textiles reflect cultural narratives of community and tradition. This exhibit analyzes select textiles from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection and the Little Eagle Arts Foundation, a Ho-Chunk arts organization, to provide a deeper understanding of the lifeways, movement, and stories of these objects. It is through these intersections that scholars may trace Native cultural practices and oral traditions throughout the western hemisphere.