Threads of Time & Wisdom

The banner for Threads of Time and Wisdom: Chilean & Guatemalan Fiber Arts. Behind the title text is a horse hair flower in bright red. To the left, is an image of hands weaving on a loom.

Threads of Time & Wisdom: Chilean & Guatemalan Fiber Arts

Down Jersey Folklife Center at WheatonArts
April 1 through November 13, 2022

This exhibition provides a visual comparison between traditional textiles of two indigenous communities of Latin America—the Chilean Mapuche people and the Guatemalan Maya. Both Mapuche and Maya artists create artworks that speak about identity and cultural heritage in a modern interconnected world, weaving ancestral knowledge and wisdom into present-day ways of life. The story of the spider who taught the first woman how to weave in the mythological past is present in both cultures. Many designs and motifs are interpreted in similar ways. However, the creative process reflects differences in a range of techniques and materials employed in the two different geographic regions. Revealed in the exhibition are the complex characters of Mapuche and Mayan garments with weaving patterns interpreted in the context of a broad spectrum of regional, social, ritual, and aesthetic meanings and viewed from the perspective of our shared humanity.

The exhibition also features Chilean horsehair (crin) miniatures of religious and secular objects—flowers, animals, or human figures—that aim to engage viewers in a conversation about the dynamics of living traditions over time, their social, artistic, and ritual messages conveyed by the artworks and by the nature of the creative process. 

The exhibit stories and displays are developed in partnership with the Embassy of Chile to the United States, the Foundation of the Folk and Traditional Artists in Chile, the “Friends of the Ixchel Museum” (FOIM), as well as local collectors and artists, in the hope of encouraging dialogue, reflection and artistic inspiration.

A woven belt with striking red block designs and a white and black striped border on the top and bottom.
A horse hair miniature of a female figure in a purple hat and pink dress, carrying a basket of flowers.
A black poncho with white designs and stripes of rainbow colors.

Threads of Wisdom & Time is part of “Reflections & Expressions: Communities & Cultures of Central & South America,” a project of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center. Additional project support is provided by the Cumberland County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

This Down Jersey Folklife Center project series edition was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Logos for Threads of Time and Wisdom, including the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Museo Ixchel Del Traje Indigena, Friends of the Ixchel Museum, Cumberland County Cultural & Heritage Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey Council for the Humanities, Raices Culturales Latinoamericanas, Rowan College of South Jersey, and the New Jersey Historical Commission.