Category: General

Upcoming Exhibition: Irresistible Resist: The Art of Indian Dyes and Design

Curators: Yael Rosenfield and Michael Schuster

Exhibition Dates: October 29, 2017—February 11, 2018

When people imagine India, they often envision a world of vibrant colorful textiles with rich and complex designs. This seemingly romantic fantasy is actually based upon reality. South Asia has been producing vibrant textiles with intricate patterns for millennia. Many of the patterns were originally social signifiers of status, community, tribe, occupation, religion, stage in life, or gender, while other patterns are enjoyed for their aesthetic quality. With the expansion of global trade from the 17th to 19th centuries, textiles from the sub-continent could be found throughout the Northern and Southern hemispheres. In the modern context, textile artisans from India readily borrow designs from thousands of years of diverse regional images. What then are the secrets of these dazzling textiles? What makes them so irresistible? This exhibition focuses on the resist dyeing processes that have made Indian textiles prized by people throughout the world. The textiles in this exhibition will be presented in four distinct categories: block-print, kalamkari, tie-dye, and ikat.

Until the late 19th century all dyes used on textiles were derived from natural sources – plant, mineral, and animal, requiring the use of mordants that bind and fix certain dyes to the cloth fiber. Resists, on the other hand, were used to block the dye from penetrating certain design elements on the textile. Used together on Indian block-printed, hand painted (kalamkari), tie-dyed and ikat woven both mordants and resists and natural dyes contributed to the creation of these popular textiles, adding to their rich coloring, wash-ability and fastness. Indian artisans were known as master dyers, and it is thanks to them that India became a leader in textile production. Block-printed and painted textiles share similar techniques used in their creation: the main difference is that for block-prints hand carved blocks are used to transfer mordants and resists to the cloth, whereas in kalamkari a ‘kalam’ or ‘pen’ is needed. Diverse regions in India have developed their own methodologies and styles, a heritage that has been handed down over generations. Each type of resist method is characterized by its own customs and iconography.

“The processes of resist dyeing allow for beautifully elaborate Indian textiles and more importantly result in manifestations of material culture reflecting the complexities of Indian traditions.” –Michael Schuster, East-West Gallery Curator

Click here to download the exhibition handout.

HPR Interview: Manjari Nirula and Edric Ong, co-curators, Tree of Life

Click on the link below to listen to Manjari Nirula and Edric Ong’s recent interview on Hawaii Public Radio (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the audio link).

Current Exhibit: Tree of Life

June 4 – September 10, 2017
East-West Center Gallery

The Tree of Life is an archetype, theme, motif, image, spiritual concept, and mythological story that is found through – out the world. The Tree of Life is often understood to connect all forms of creation and is a cosmic conception that connects the heavens, earth, and underworld. It has influenced art creation and visual representation for millennia. These diverse representations have taken influences from indigenous cultures and major religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, and other ancient religions.

The Tree of Life has diverse meaning across cultures in Asia. In Hindu mythology, it is the Cosmic Tree, for the Babylonians it was the tree with the divine fruit, for the Zoroastrians it is the Haoma Tree, while in Chinese mythology the one who eats its fruits becomes immortal.

This exhibition is beyond borders and the viewer will see diverse objects from 20 Asian countries. Although the emphasis is on textiles there are also examples of the tree of life image in a multitude of media including paintings, ceramics, basketry, metal work, jewelry, lacquer, stone, wood, and leather.

Handcrafted from natural and sustainable materials, the artwork focuses on traditional and contemporary interpretations of the Tree of Life. The aim of the exhibition is to create awareness about the importance of ecology to stimulate creativity as well as to highlight cultural sustainability. Manjari Nirula, co-curator from India states, “The aim of the exhibition is to create greater awareness about the importance of ecology to stimulate creativity and innovation while highlighting natural as well as cultural sustainability. Craft has the least carbon footprint and that comes through very strongly in this exhibition.”

There are many indigenous cultures in Sarawak, Malaysia that address the concepts of the sacred forest. According to co-curator Edric Ong from Sarawak, Malaysia, “The Tree of Life, known as pohon budi in Malaysian language, is talking about a tree of culture, a tree of civilization, a tree from which mankind evolved. The exhibition builds bridges and healing with its message of peace and love.”

Click here to download the exhibit handout.

East-West Center Gallery
John A. Burns Hall, 1601 East-West Road
(corner Dole St. & East-West Rd.)

Gallery admission is free.

Hours: Open Weekdays 8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. and Sundays Noon–4:00 p.m.
Closed Saturdays, Feb. 20, Apr. 16, May 29

Parking on the UH-Mānoa campus is normally free and ample on Sundays.

Free school & group tours available

For further information: 944-7177