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Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts

New Funk Center Exhibition Presents Artistic Ingenuity of the Bedouin

Show Opens Jan. 28 with Jewelry, Incense Burners and More   

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Far more complex than the Hollywood portrayal of the camel-riding wanderer clad in flowing white robes and searching for water, Saudi Arabian Bedouins are diverse, skilled craftspeople, dedicated to family, hospitality and honor. The way in which these iconic nomads learned to adapt to an environment as inhospitable as the desert is a marvel of anthropological and artistic ingenuity.

Their skills and handiwork is at the heart of Traditional Arts of the Bedouin, the new exhibition opening Jan. 28 at Florida Institute of Technology’s Funk Center for Textile Arts. Drawn from the Nance Collection, the largest collection of its kind outside the Middle East, the exhibition introduces visitors to a rich material culture from Saudi Arabia and nearby Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Syria and Yemen.

It is open through April 29.

Traditional Arts of the Bedouin reveals the Bedouin to be artists with a legacy of incredible work, not widely known outside their own cultures. The exhibition includes more than 50 artworks and artifacts, from elaborately embroidered textiles and embellished metalwork to ceremonial coffee accouterments and incense burners; as well as several photographs depicting Bedouin artisans at work.

The featured jewelry shows each artist’s use of obscure techniques, such as crenellation, to produce intricate pieces. Bedouin weaving, still crafted on a stick loom, demonstrates ancient knowledge of natural dyes and fibers, and traditional patterns; while the women who create textiles use native stitches, not known outside the Bedouin world, to embroider meaning into the objects.

Visitors will learn how Bedouin arts and crafts frequently bridge the gap between aesthetic and utilitarian purposes, as well as recognize the unique tenacity of Bedouin traditions in an ever-changing political, social and environmental landscape.

Traditional Arts of the Bedouin was organized by the Nance Collection, McClure Archives and the University Museum at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri, as part of a tour from ExhibitsUSA. The exhibition is curated by Amber Clifford-Napoleone, the Nance Collection curator and an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Central Missouri.

The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, the only textiles center in the state of Florida, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. The Center is located next to Evans Library on the Florida Tech campus in Melbourne, Florida, 150 W. University Blvd. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://textiles.fit.edu or call 321-674-8313.

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