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Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence
01/21/2018 - 03/31/2018
Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence showcases a new form of textile art known as ndwango, developed by a community of women living and working together in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Established in 1999 by two women—Ntombephi “Induna” Ntobela and Bev Gibson—on a former sugar plantation, the Ubuhle [pronounced Uh-Buk-lay] began as a way of creating employment for rural women combining traditional skills—like beadwork—and making them profitable.
Ubuhle means “beauty” in the Xhosa [Ho-Sa] and Zulu languages and describes the shimmering quality of light on glass, which has a particular spiritual significance for the Xhosa people. By stretching textile (ndwango) like a canvas, the artists transform the flat cloth into a contemporary art form colored with Czech glass beads. The artwork provides an emotional outlet for a community affected by HIV/AIDS and low employment, as well as a route for financial independence for the artists.