South Dakota Art Museum features Nigerian textiles exhibit through May 27

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

For art lovers or those interested in cloth and clothing, the “Cloth is the Center of the World: Nigerian Textiles, Global Perspectives” exhibition at the South Dakota Art Museum may be a must-see collection.

The exhibit, which will on display until May 27, is a unique display.

John Rychtarik, Curator of Exhibits for the museum, explained, “It’s one person’s collection — Joanne Eicher’s collection of Nigerian textiles that she collected while she was over there.” An interesting tidbit about the textiles is that Eicher did not buy them with the intent of creating a collection. Rychtarik said, “She started liking the fabric and buying it and realized later that she was getting quite a bit, started collecting it and decided to put it together into an exhibit.”

Though Eicher’s entire collection tops 500 textiles, only 75 to 100 of the cloths are in the museum. They are displayed in a number of ways: flat, folded, on walls and even wrapped around mannequins to demonstrate the way the fabric would be worn in Africa. This art form is unique and valued for a number of reasons. “I think it’s special because it is from Nigeria, a different part of the world, a different dress,” Rychtarik said, encouraging others to come see the display. “They’re from a different culture, and I think it’s wise for local people to come and see the textiles and the art that differs from what is local,” he said.

Another draw of the display is the variety and beauty of the cloths, Rychtarik said. “It’s beautiful, the cloth is beautiful. Some of it is tie-dyed, some are wax-printed, like batiks.”

In addition, he said some have designs actually woven into them, and others have had threads pulled out to form a design or to make the textile more transparent. “There’s just a variety and a use of stencils ? there’s quite a bit to it,” he said. The exhibit would be of interest to many, Rychtarik said. “Especially if people are interested in textiles or clothing or people interested in Africa, I think they would really enjoy seeing this exhibit.”

Admittance to the museum is free and several free events are being offered to accompany the display. Jan. 31 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. will be a gallery reception where Eicher will present a slide lecture.

Eicher will also be doing a briefing/gallery talk on Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. There will be a slide lecture by the Dr. Susan J. Torntore at 7 p.m. on Feb. 7.