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Acadian Brown Cotton: The Fabric of Acadiana

Sep 11, 2020 — Jun 30, 2021

This landmark exhibition is the most comprehensive project to date dedicated to the cultural traditions associated with the farming and weaving of brown cotton in Acadiana.

Acadian Brown Cotton: The Fabric of Acadiana is much like the blankets on view in that it is composed of many, many threads. The exhibition tells several stories that, taken as a whole, represent an ambitious synthesis of folklore, anthropology, economics, and art history. First, the manner in which weaving practices were passed largely from mother to daughter is conveyed through genealogical analyses that illustrate, in a general sense, how weaving as a cultural idiom in Acadiana tended to spread geographically. The weaving process is explained and illustrated through home furnishings that were common in Acadian households before the mid-twentieth century. Viewers will learn how economic conditions in Acadiana played an important role in the revitalization of brown cotton weaving, especially in the last 150 years, and how the current wave of weaving revitalization has become an economic and cultural force. Specifically, emphasis is placed on the community organizing activities of the non-profit Field to Fashion in Acadiana.

Finally, Acadian Brown Cotton: The Fabric of Acadiana addresses brown cotton weaving from the standpoint of visual culture. Social documentary photographer Leah Greaff’s photographs reflect a keen eye and provoke concepts of artistic intention, symbolism, art as commodity, and the difficulty of navigating between artistic classifications such as decorative and fine art. Master spinner and weaver Elaine Larcade Bourque, as well as Austin Clark, Ben Koch, Lena Kolb, LaChaun Moore, and Francis Pavy are some of the artists whose work is included in the exhibition. Their creations illustrate how weaving traditions can or have become more symbolically important than subsistence practitioners ever thought possible.

Acadian Brown Cotton: The Fabric of Acadiana would not have been possible if it were not for the hard work of our curatorial team consisting of Elaine Larcade Bourque, Dr. C. Ray Brassieur, Sharon Gordon Donnan, Wendy Raffel, Deb Waldman, and Benjamin M. Hickey. Additionally, the exhibition, L’Amour de Maman: The Acadian Textile Heritage first presentedat the Louisiana State Museum in 1983 and which later toured extensively in Canada,served as a North Star to the curatorial team and informed which elements of the weaving tradition warranted further research. Funding for this exhibition comes from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Thank you to Susie Gottardi, Ian Gregory-Graff, Jolie Johnson, Olivia Morgan, Chris Pavlik, Jenny Robertson, Callie Smith, Misty Taylor, and other Hilliard Art Museum staff who made this exhibition possible.

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