Lace from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection
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.
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.
Installed in Gallery: February 5 – April 3, 2020. Online Launch: Summer 2020. “UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage” 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. HLATC pieces were placed in dialogue with UNPACKED.
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. It uses a “rapid response” collecting model to select masks for the HLATC which mark this contemporary moment as historic.
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 HLATC and the Little Eagle Arts Foundation to provide a deeper understanding of the lifeways, movement, and stories of these objects.
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 digital technology during a residency at UW–Madison, Hagström Møller’s art travels through time and space.
NOTE: The gallery is currently closed due to COVID-19 recommendations.
About the Textile Gallery
In 2019, the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery was established as a place to host rotating exhibits with work from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection. Exhibitions can also include contemporary textiles by national and international makers, as well as non-textile objects presented in conversation with the textile collection.
Exhibitions at the textile gallery are curated by the Center for Design and Material Culture staff, faculty, and guest curators and are mounted throughout the academic year. This space features LED lighting and an intimate setting.
The gallery was made possible through generous donor support. Their philanthropy advances Professor Helen Louise Allen’s life work of promoting the knowledge and understanding of cultures through engagement with textiles and other material artifacts.
History of the Textile Gallery
Anticipating the 50th anniversary celebration of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection (HLATC) in 2019, Lynn Mecklenburg, Susan Engstrom and Jane Villa, three members of the HLATC Development Committee, provided the philanthropic leadership for a fundraising effort to create a dedicated textile gallery. Loyal HLATC donors, Sandra and Jack Winder, soon joined this effort. With additional funds from the estate of Kathleen “Katie” Orea Sweeney, the renovation of the Lynn Mecklenburg Reading Room to the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery commenced. Their collective dream for a space dedicated to featuring pieces from the HLATC stemmed from their love of textiles and the belief that textiles have a universal appeal, the power to tell stories of a shared humanity and cultural experiences.