Works from the Permanent Collection is the twelfth exhibition in the Nancy and Edwin Marks Collection Gallery series devoted to showcasing the museum’s collections. London-based architect David Adjaye is of Ghanaian descent and has traveled extensively across Africa.
He has been deeply impacted by African textiles, and their geometries and abstractions are often reflect- ed in his buildings. For this installation, he has mined the museum’s little-known collection of West African textiles to create a “collective form” of vibrant patterns.
Textiles are powerful sources of exploration and citation. Inherent in their production and design is a narrative about culture that I consider absolutely critical to the practice of architecture. This exhibition presents fourteen West and Cen-tral African textiles from the museum’s permanent collection. The concept explores how the abstraction and range of techniques associated with African textiles can offer an exciting moment of engagement with in the context of the practice’s architectural work. The textiles offer a fascinating narrative that references history, community, spirituality and op- portunity. These textiles also tell a human story. They reveal the narrative of human experience behind wide-sweeping changes that have touched the conti- nent. They are inspirational, not only for their cultural content, but also for their geometry and form. The textures and patterns have powerful effect on perception in ways that alter our relationship with space and surroundings.
Through the combination of color, scale, and repeat- ed geometries, these textiles convey depth and par- tition space in very specific ways. Displaying these fabrics upright in the exhibition as opposed to the more common method of laying them flat offers the chance to appreciate them as architectural elements, particularly as they contrast with more traditional, European-inspired features of their housing gallery.