Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence

“Ubule Women” (“beautiful” women in Xhosa) is an exhibition currently on display at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C. The Ubuhle artists’ community was established in 1999 by local resident Bev Gibson and beader Ntombephi Ntombela to provide Xhosa and Zulu women with the means to provide for their families through their art. Using black fabric and glass beads, the Ubuhle women use their longstanding beading tradition as a contemporary art form, reminiscent of the Xhosa headscarves and skirts that many of them grew up wearing. Twenty-nine works are featured, including “The African Cruxifixion,” composed of seven panels and commissioned for the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity, the Anglican cathedral in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Other themes explored are poverty, AIDS and abuse. The exhibition is on display until September 21st.

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