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A new form of bead art, the ndwango (“cloth”), developed by a community of women living and working together in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Ubuhle (pronounced Uh-Buk-lay) means “beauty” in the Xhosa and Zulu languages, and it describes the shimmering quality of light on glass that has a particular spiritual significance for the Xhosa people. The black fabric on which the Ubuhle women work is reminiscent of the Xhosa headscarves and skirts which many of them grew up wearing. Using skills handed down through generations, and working in their own unique style—“directly from the soul,” according to artist Ntombephi Ntobela—the women create abstract as well as figurative subjects for their ndwangos.
The exhibition was developed by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, D.C., in cooperation with Curators Bev Gibson, Ubuhle Beads, and James Green, and it is organized for tour by International Arts & Artists. The Dayton Art Institute will be the first venue for this new tour.
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