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January 14, 1988 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-01-14

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Page 8--The Michigan Doily-Thursday, January 14, 1988




' reveals African culture

By Lauren Shapiro
Intense bold geometric patterns
are the focus of the latest exhibit at
the University Museum of Art. The
show titled Shoowa Textiles com-
bines various kinds of craftwork in-
cluding the handmade textiles, cos-
tumes, masks, knives, and jewelry.
This wide range of objects composes
the most comprehensive exhibition
of African textile art ever promoted
in the United States.
Although many beautiful objects
are presented, the show focuses on
the textiles and their symbolic pat-
terns. The most renowned group of
textile artists remains the Shoowa,
whose name originated from the
words Sango Meno meaning
"pointed teeth." They have a reputa-
tion for the quality of their technique
and their cut-pile raffia textiles
known as mbal.
Until the time of colonization,
the Kuba maintained an extensive
trade through inter-tribal markets.
The city Loango was a center of
production for cut-pile textiles. The
Kuba used the textile squares as cur-
rency in trade within and outside the
country. During this period of time,
many Portuguese were coming into
Zaire to make trades with the
Shoowa people who valued their

cloths as heirlooms since social sta-
tus was reflected by their ownership.
Today, the textiles remain very
valuable since each one is handmade
with natural fibers and may take
more than a year for the Shoowa to
produce. In his catalogue about the
show, George Meurant describes the
initial impression of the Shoowa
textiles: "The first structuring of the
surface exploits the possibilities of
juxtaposing, interlocking, and
superimposing simple elements to
form motif." This unique feature of
the works is accomplished by cover-
ing the velvet surface of the textile
in cut-pile so that no individual tufts
are visible.
While most Kuba people practice
this form of embroidery, only the
Shoowa modulate the thickness of
the textile and thus, accentuate the
surface effects. The Shoowa were
able to enhance the total visual effect
of their works in this way by cutting
the velyet with a flat knife so that
depth could be varied. The curves
within the velvet are another charac-
teristic of the Shoowa textiles.
The textiles possess a richness
which is expressed not only through
colors like brown, gold , ginger, and
black, but also through intricate
patterns. These patterns reflect the
variety of motifs and potential sym-
bolic interpretations of the Shoowas'
work. Meurant explains that the

"patterns form abstract expressions,
leaving each individual to understand
the symbols in his own way, as he
does the world."
Many of the designs may actually
be traced back to the scarification
patterns of the Shoowa women. The
textiles reflect the esteemed place of
women in the Shoowa society. Not
only do the Shoowa observe ma-
trillineal descent, but their division
of labor is inter-dependent. Accord-
ing to Meurant, "a man cannot live
without a woman and vice versa."
Generally, men wove the background
raffia cloth, usually dyed yellow, or-
ange, or red, while women threaded
thick tufts of fine raffia, softened by
hand, to form complex geometric
designs. Meurant refers to the sym-
bols created by these designs as
"rectilinear graphic language" which
allude to the cosmological and social
order within the Shoowa culture.
Modern artists like Mondrian and
Vasarely have interpreted these pat-
terns representing orders within
Shoowa society. The textiles look
remarkably contemporary in their
bold and colorful expression. Henri
Matisse himself was a great admirer
of the intricate graphic designs cre-
ated by the Shoowa people and
combined their theories in several of
his works.
SHOOWA TEXTILES will be at the

University Museum of Art through
February 7. The exhibit will also be
the subject of several free Art Breaks
at the museum, today and February 2
and 4. Sunday tours are January 17
and 24. The museum is open
Tuesday - Friday 10 a.m. - 4
p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 1-
S p.m. Admission is free. For
further information call 764-0395.

Call: 763-0379

'Shoowa Textiles,' focuses on the intense bold geometric patterns of
various kinds of craftwork of the Shoowa people of Zaire. The craft-
works include handmade textiles, costumes, masks, knives, and

(Continued from Page 7)
Walkenhorst's penchant for putting
across gospel ideas with a gutsy
irony, steamrolling over Amy Grant-
type "Christian-rock" wimpiness: "I
was ignoring the thief who was
lashed to the cross/ He cried 'help

me get this son of a bitch off."' In
"Tornado of Love," he even lightens
up the frenzied story of disaster on
the farm with a human vignette:
"Then we saw the outhouse splin-
tered/And there sat Pa with his over-
alls peed/ His Sears catalog and his
rosary beads."

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But Walkenhorst's visions reach
far beyond the backwoods; "Small
Circles," with its charming story and
melody, and "No Romance" frankly
lament the fall of childhood dreams
to the cynical world. His global
view of life glimpses "The Other
Side of the World," and sees the ma-
terialistic powerlust and decadent
vanity collapsing America into a
second apocalypse of sorts
Jimmy Swaggart says that rock
'n' roll is "devil music" no matter
what it says. But the rocking, carni-
val thrill of Walkenhorst's band
proves that pop can be serious fun
indeed. As he cries in "Snakedance,"
"I'm part man, part monkey, part
mystery/And the angels and the dev-
ils/ Are playing tug-of-war with my
personality." Whichever side you

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If you're going to a
Campus Computing Site,
don't leave home
without one of these:

may root for, this is simply one
show you have no reason to miss.
-Michael Fischer
RCA Records
Nobody would have expected a
group like the Eurythmics to ever
get the notion to release a Who-like
"concept" album like this one. Af-
ter all, being a mainstream techno-
dance-pop duo, they are known for
their few exciting singles, rather
than albums with any kind of
narrative coherency.
The reason for the ultimate fail-
ure of the record, however, is not
its storyline; that element is actu-
ally original and worthwhile in its
own way. Most of the music
though, is little more than ker-
chunking synthesizer repetitions. If
only Dave Stewart's multi-instru-
mental support were as vivid as
Annie Lennox's muscular singing,
Savage might have been some-
thing special.
Savage is the story of an unsat-.
isfied and slightly psychotic
housewife - kind of a radio-
friendly Madame Bovary. She is the
type of woman who longs for
glamor, "something extreme." The
plot thickens as she embarks on a
torrid new lifestyle, including a
"lover back in Japan" and
"dancehalls and cinema."She winds
up losing her innocence when the
"Wide Eyed Girl" within her goes
away, and the story closes tragically
with the dramatic self-pitying-to-
the-point-of-masochism hymn, "I
Need You," by far the best song on
the record. Then, just as it should
be in the Disney universe of pop
music, she wakes up to a "Brand
New Day." It was only a bad dream
after all, folks.



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If only Dave Stewart's multi-instrumental support were as vivid as
Annie Lennox's (pictured above) muscular singing, 'Savage,' the latest
release by the Eurythmics, might have been something special.

The undeniable emotional im-
pact of "I Need You" reveals the
solution to the Eurythmics sonic
woes. A bare-bones acoustic
bottleneck guitar accents Lennox's
vocal angst as well as wisely back-
ing away from it, allowing it to
speak for itself. The electronically
rooted Eurythmics should take heed
of the "A Little is Enough" ap-

proach of Pete Townshend. Savage
makes it.obvious that the Euryth-
mics partnership should not be as
equal as it seems to be. When
comparing Lennox's chilling but
soulful voice to Stewart's chilling
but soulless instrumentation, the
former is clearly the superior in-
-Mark Swartz


:: AY.VIII'i 1.1".111.11. :.1"..1.:.::1.



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