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Sarong (lower body wrapper) Java, North Coast. Ann Dunham Collection No. 17A

WASHINGTON, DC.- For two weeks only this summer, batik patterned textiles from the collection of Ann Dunham, President Obama’s mother, will be on view at The Textile Museum. This marks the final stop in a national tour of the exhibition A Lady Found a Culture in its Cloth: Barack Obama’s Mother and Indonesian Batiks. Washingtonians and visitors to the nation’s capital will not want to miss this unique look at the Obama family and the Southeast Asian culture from which these fabrics originated! A Lady Found a Culture in its Cloth will be on view at The Textile Museum August 9 through 23, 2009. The exhibition is made possible with the support by President Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro Ng, and her family.

Gericault_autoportraitAnn Dunham loved and collected many handcrafted objects, including textiles. As a teenager, she wove wall hangings in earthy shades of brown and green for her own enjoyment. After marrying Lolo Soetoro and moving to Indonesia in the 1960s with her son Barack Obama, she was naturally drawn to the vibrant textile arts of her new home. She began to amass a collection of Javanese batiks — fabrics patterned by using a wax-resist process — from which this exhibition is drawn. These textiles were readily seen on city and village streets in this Southeast Asian nation at that time.  (photo: Kain panjang (long cloth used as lower body wrapper) Java, Solo. Ann Dunham Collection No. 1)

Gericault_autoportraitHer interests in batik patterned cloth were complex. She did not acquire rare or expensive pieces, but rather contemporary examples that were an expression of a living tradition, patterned with both classic designs and those of passing fashion. The lives of the batik makers also fascinated her. While earning degrees in anthropology from the University of Hawaii in the 1970s and 1980s, she focused on how to help craftspeople, like those creating batik in Indonesia. She worked with the Ford Foundation in Jakarta and later with USAID and the World Bank, guiding projects beneficial to poor women through micro and small enterprises. She eventually set up microcredit projects all over Indonesia as well as in Pakistan and Kenya.  (photo : Kain panjang (long cloth used as lower body wrapper)Java, Yogyakarta. Ann Dunham Collection No. 6)

The wide variation in the batiks on view in this exhibition reflects the range of colors and patterns that captured her imagination and provides a window into Indonesian culture

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In 1925 George Hewitt Myers founded The Textile Museum with a collection of 275 rugs and 60 related textiles. Myers collected actively for the Museum until his death in 1957, at which time the collection had grown to encompass the textile arts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Myers' time, the Museum was open by appointment only and received several hundred visitors annually. Today, The Textile Museum is one of the world's foremost specialized art museums and receives 25,000 to 35,000 visitors each year from around the world. Visit : http://www.textilemuseum.org/

(photo Kain panjang (long cloth used as lower body wrapper) Java, Yogyakarta. Ann Dunham Collection No. 10)