Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence showcases 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. Using skills passed down through generations and working “directly from the soul” (in the words of artist Ntombephi Ntobela), the Ubuhle women have created a multidimensional, contemporary art form by applying exquisite Czech glass beads onto plain black cloth, reminiscent of the Xhosa headscarves and skirts that many of the Ubuhle women wore growing up.
Ubuhle (pronounced Uh-Buk-lay) means “beauty” in the Xhosa and Zulu languages, and aptly describes the quality of light on glass that for the Xhosa people has a special spiritual significance. From every vantage point, the meticulous skill and labor that went into each work becomes strikingly apparent. A single panel can take more than 10 months to complete.
Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence was developed by the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, D.C., in cooperation with Curators Bev Gibson, Ubuhle Beads, and James Green, and is organized for tour by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.
Exhibition Date: March 23 to June 16, 2019
Senior (65+) $13
Youth (13-17) $5
Members and children younger than 13 are always free.