WRITER: BRADLEY PAUL
CONTACT: PETER ALEXANDER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0072; fax (319) 384-0024
Peruvian weavings given to UI Museum of Art will be shown
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Ancient Andean Textiles from the Schnell Collection,"
a group of five pre-Columbian weavings that the University of Iowa Museum
of Art has acquired in recent years from Eugene and Ina Schnell of Longboat
Key, Fla., will be on display in the museum April 25 through June 21.
The exhibition will focus on textiles created by the Nasca, a culture that
flourished in the Andean region of western Peru between 200 BC and AD 600.
Because their design and production reflect social organization, technological
systems, and religious and philosophical practices, the textiles are important
cultural documents as well as beautiful works of art.
A large portion of the textiles come from burial sites. People of high status
were buried wearing richly embroidered mantles, lace-like woven tunics and
even painstakingly braided wigs. Nasca textiles were first unearthed by grave-robbers
in the early part of the 20th century.
The textiles in the exhibition owe their excellent condition to the arid
climate of the Andean region. The coastal deserts that lie in a narrow strip
between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean average less than half an
inch of rain per year.
The dryness of the Peru's coastal region may also explain the emphasis on
water imagery in the textiles' patterns. Many of the patterns that initially
appear to be abstractions may in fact represent the elaborate irrigation systems
by which water was directed from icy mountain peaks to valleys.
Other patterns in the textiles have been interpreted as references to architectural
forms, zoomorphic forms, sun imagery and other elements of the Nasca world.
Although the Schnells have donated more than 800 Pre-Columbian objects to
the museum since the 1970s, only recently have their gifts included Nasca
textiles. This is the first time the museum has shown all of its Nasca objects
in a single exhibition.
The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission
to the museum is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots
across from the museum on Riverside Drive, and adjacent to the UI Alumni Center,
which is just north of the museum.