ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Officials of the Memorial Art Gallery announced a new exhibit Wednesday that showcased a new form of bead art developed in South Africa known as “ndwango” (“cloth”).
The exhibit — titled “Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence” — was developed with this form of bead art by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in Washington D.C., along with curators Bev Gibson, Ubuhle Beads, and James Green.
Officials from the Memorial Art Gallery said the event will be on view from July 17 to October 23, 2022.
According to officials from the Memorial Art Gallery, the art form was developed by a community of women living in the rural province of KwaZulu, South Africa. The black fabric on which the Ubuhle women work resembles the Xhosa headscarves and skirts that they grew up wearing.
Officials then said the artists would stretch the textile like a canvas and use colored Czech glass beads to turn the cloth into a contemporary art form.
Ubuhle was established in 1999 on a former sugar plantation north of the city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal when two friends — Ntombephi “Induna” Ntobela and Bev Gibson — shared a vision of combining skills to create employment for rural women. They created a means for women to use beading traditions to achieve financial independence.
Officials said the Ubuhle community lost five members to various illnesses, halving the number of active artists. Many of the pieces at the exhibit are meant to be memorials to the late Ubuhle artists.