Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas

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Indigenous scholars Kendra Greendeer (Ho-Chunk) and Dakota Mace (Diné) co-curate an exhibition exploring material interrelationships among cultures with long histories of exchange throughout the Americas. 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.


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installation view of Intersections showing large text panel in foreground and students discussing a work in the background.

Students discuss an artwork installed in “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” (Photo by Dakota Mace for the CDMC.)

Close-up image of a brightly colored textile showing textures of weave.

Detail photograph of an installed textile in “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” (Photo by Dakota Mace for the CDMC.)

Close-up view of a beaded bandolier bag with floral imagery.

Detail photograph of an installed bandolier bag in “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” (Photo by Dakota Mace for the CDMC.)

cview of

Installation view of “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. (Photo © Andy Manis).

Photograph of textile installation showing wall didactic panels, mounted textiles, drawers, and covered display cases.

Installation view of “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. (Photo © Andy Manis).

installation view of a textile exhibition showing beaded bandolier bags, installation panels with text, and a hung textile behind glass.

Installation view of “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. (Photo © Andy Manis).

group of people stand between two galleries in Nancy Nicholas Hall near an empty podium.

Group conversing at the opening for “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Nancy Nicholas Hall. (Photo © Andy Manis.)

woman in a blue shirt and dine silver necklace (Jane Villa) speaks at a podium and smiles.

Jane Villa’s opening remarks at the opening for “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Nancy Nicholas Hall. (Photo © Andy Manis.)

Man stands within the

Man looking at installation objects at the opening for “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. (Photo © Andy Manis.)

Groups of women standing in the

People looking at installation objects at the opening for “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. (Photo © Andy Manis.)

Installation view of Intersections showing a large display case holding a vertically-hung textile.

Installation view of “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. (Photo © Andy Manis).

Close-up view of textiles hung on wall showing weave structure and knots.

Detail photograph of an installed textiles in “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” (Photo by Dakota Mace for the CDMC.)

photograph of a smiling woman (Dakota Mace) standing at a podium speaking and smiling.

Co-curator Dakota Mace speaks at the opening for “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019 in Nancy Nicholas Hall. (Photo © Andy Manis.)

closely-cropped B&W head shot of a woman smiling wearing large earrings.

Co-Curator Kendra Greendeer’s portrait from the curatorial panels of “Intersections.”

3 large textiles are installed vertically behind glass or between glass windows.

Installation view of “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. (Photo © Andy Manis).

photograph of a textile installation showing a large colorful wall text panel in foreground and mounted objects in the background.

Installation view of “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas.” Sept. 19, 2019, in Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. (Photo © Andy Manis).


“As Indigenous curators, we felt that it was important to create an exhibition that came from an Indigenous perspective. We wanted to provide a new window to recognize and acknowledge the complexity and interconnectedness of Indigenous peoples through textiles.”
–Co-curators Greendeer and Mace


“Intersections…” was originally installed in the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery and on view from September 5 – December 6, 2019. With COVID-19 gallery closures in the summer of 2020, selections were re-developed as an online exhibition with support from the Anonymous Fund. The exhibition was developed with the generous support of honorary curators Jane and David Villa and is part of a series of exhibitions in celebration of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection’s 50th Anniversary.


50th Anniversary logo with gold waves

In 2019, the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Human Ecology launched a yearlong anniversary celebration of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. Over the past half century, the collection has grown from an original 4,000-piece gift to more than 13,000 objects that have inspired and informed thousands of students, researchers, historians, and textile aficionados. The 50-year celebration began on January 27, 2019, with the opening of new Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery, a space dedicated to year-round displays of the collections. Activities continue into 2019 with a calendar of public exhibitions, symposia, lectures, and public workshops.