Native Textiles of the Americas – Center for Design and Material Culture – UW – Madison

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Indigenous scholars Kendra Greendeer (Ho-Chunk) and Dakota Mace (Diné) are co-organizing an exhibition exploring the material interrelationships between cultures with a long history of exchanges across the Americas. From the Andes to the Great Lakes, textiles reflect the cultural narratives of community and tradition. This exhibition analyzes selected textiles from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection and the Little Eagle Arts Foundation, a Ho-Chunk arts organization, in order to better understand the lifestyles, movements and histories of these objects. It is through these intersections that researchers can trace Indigenous cultural practices and oral traditions across the Western Hemisphere.


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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 weaving textures.

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

Close-up view of a beaded shoulder bag with floral images.

Detailed photograph of a shoulder bag installed in “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas”. (Photo by Dakota Mace for the CDMC.)

seen from

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

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

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

Installation view of a textile exhibition showing beaded shoulder bags, installation panels with text and a textile hanging behind glass.

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

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

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

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

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

The man stands in the

A man looks at installation objects at the opening of “Intersections: Indigenous Textiles of the Americas”. September 19, 2019, at the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery. (Photo © Andy Manis.)

Groups of women standing in the

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

Installation view of Intersections showing a large display case containing a textile suspended vertically.

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

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

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

photograph of a smiling woman (Dakota Mace) standing on a podium talking and smiling.

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

Black and white portrait of a smiling woman wearing large earrings.

The portrait of co-curator Kendra Greendeer from the “Intersections” curatorial panels.

3 large textiles are installed vertically behind a window or between windows.

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

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

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


“As Indigenous curators, we felt it was important to create an exhibit that came from an Indigenous perspective. We wanted to offer a new window to recognize and recognize the complexity and interdependence of indigenous peoples through textiles.
–Co-commissioners Greendeer and Mace


“Intersections…” was initially installed in the Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery and exhibited from September 5December 6, 2019. With the closing of the COVID-19 galleries in the summer of 2020, the selections have been revamped as an online exhibition with the support of the Anonymous Fund. The exhibit has been developed with the generous support of honorary curators Jane and David Villa and is part of a series of exhibits celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Helen Louise Allen textile collection.


50th anniversary logo with golden waves

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


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