Do you remember the first museum that you went to? I do – it was on a third grade field trip to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. I remember being fascinated by all of the artwork, sculptures, and other objects in the exhibit. I wanted to read all of the captions and to learn more and more about each piece.
Shortly after I began working with The Community Cloth in the summer of 2015, I was informed that our Burmese women’s hand-woven scarves would be included in an exhibition at The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH). I was beyond excited. With its unique and often quizzical exhibits, the CAMH had quickly became one of my favorite Houston museums and I was stunned to hear that our artisans’ work would be displayed among 35 other Texas designers showcasing their creative talents in the Texas Design Now exhibit.
We (Community Cloth staff and volunteers) knew that we had to get the artisans to the museum while the scarves were on display. After coordinating schedules, transportation, and childcare, we finally found a Sunday that worked for the majority of our Burmese weavers to make a field trip to the CAMH. Watching them walk into the museum brought back memories of my first time at one, they were in awe of their surroundings and all of the pieces on display. For many of them, this was their first time at a museum, and we enjoyed walking around and helping explain the different pieces.
Eventually, we got to their exhibit. They instantly recognized their scarves and began pointing and discussing who had made each one. They could not believe that the scarves they had designed and created were in a museum - it was a powerful experience to witness. For most of these ladies, their work has never been recognized. It is a mentally complex process that requires the physical stamina to operate the loom as well as the creative ability to design the scarves.
The memory of my first museum visit has remained with me over all these years and I hope that the same will be true for these ladies. More importantly, I hope that the event boosted their self-confidence in their craftsmanship since their scarves are irrefutably a work of art.
Note: You can now purchase the scarves that were on exhibit on our online store.
Written by Katelin Cherry
The Community Cloth