The tradition of weaving textiles with four finished edges—selvages—characterizes the creative process of the ancient weavers of Peru, known for their mastery of color, technique, and design. Without cutting a thread, each textile was woven to be what it was intended, whether a daily garment, royal mantle, or ritual cloth. This approach to weaving required the highest level of skill—even for the simplest of plain undecorated cloth—and reflects a cultural value in the integrity of cloth, not only in its design and function but in the way in which it was made.
This exhibition highlights selections from the Fowler Museum’s noteworthy collection of Precolumbian textiles and includes masterworks that demonstrate the high level of artistic achievement of Peruvian weavers. These range from the ancient ritual textiles from the early Chavin and Paracas cultures (500–100 B.C.E.) to the extraordinary garments of the Inca empire (1485–1532). While exploring the origins and development of this approach to weaving, the exhibition will also examine its influence on three contemporary artists―Shelia Hicks, James Bassler, and John Cohen—each of whom through his or her own artistic path has considered and transformed ancient weavers’ knowledge and processes into new directions.
This exhibition was curated by Elena Phipps, Independent Scholar and Curator.