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African Textiles Today by Chris Spring
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African Textiles Today

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African Textiles Today by Chris Spring
Hardcover $45.00
Oct 09, 2012 | ISBN 9781588343802

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  • Oct 09, 2012 | ISBN 9781588343802

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In this exciting work, Spring (British Museum), an active artist and curator of the British Museum’s African galleries, draws from that institution’s collections to present African textile expression “as a cyclical phenomenon in which past, present, and future are inextricably intertwined.”  Across the continent’s many cultures, the author traces themes of communication, systems of belief, trade, and cultural exchange, national identity, power and status, empowerment, and the historical groundings of contemporary art through the “dynamic and fluid medium” of cloth.  The result is a model of simultaneously syncretic and expansive scholarship: fresh, stimulating, solidly documented, and gorgeously illustrated.  An important intellectual complement to such traditionally organized surveys as John Gillow’s excellent African Textiles (2003), the present work also provides conceptual support for more specialized monographs that focus on specific African textile forms in a global context (e.g., Doran Ross’s Wrapped in Pride:  Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity, 1998).  Written with clarity, passion, and deep subject knowledge, this feat of engaged curation dispels any dusty misconceptions about the nature of museum work today.  Summing Up: Highly recommended.  Especially for African studies or museum studies programs; lower-division undergraduates and above, and general readers. –K.S. Edwards, Clemson University


It is impossible to overstate the importance of textiles in African art, both traditionally and in the present day. Spring (African art, British Museum; African Art in Detail) has provided an excellent overview of the meanings and uses of textiles from all regions of the continent. Accompanied by color photographs of materials from the British Museum’s collection, the text explains the various roles textiles play in African cultures. Chapters include “Textiles and Trade,” “Textiles and Communication,” and “African Textiles as Historical Documents.” Spring’s efforts to show how traditional cloths have inspired and been incorporated into contemporary African art demonstrate the vitality of these textile arts. VERDICT Anyone interested in textiles, clothing, and how an art form can be expressive for people at all levels of society will find this volume a valuable resource.—Eugene C. Burt, Seattle

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