Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas

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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“Intersections…” was originally installed in the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery and on view from September 5December 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.

“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

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.