RED (Textile Museum, Washington, D.C.)

The Textile Museum
Washington, D.C.
Through July 8, 2007

Red has been recognized in all cultures, throughout the ages, as the color of passion, fire, blood, fortune and status. A Hollywood red carpet conveys glamour and celebrity; in China both the bride and groom wear red wedding garments to elevate them on their special day to the level of royalty. The color red is used in many flags as a symbol of blood (USA) and power (USSR). It is even the universal color of choice for the stop sign.

The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., is exploring the color’s significance in an exhibit that features functional, decorative and ceremonial textiles. The collection includes pieces that range from a Halston evening gown to a Slavic tunic adorned with symbols to ward off the evil eye; from an AIDS ribbon symbolizing blood to a Vietnamese funeral banner; and from a contemporary Navajo rug to a pre-Columbian textile fragment. Highlights included a lovely black Japanese kimono lined in a brilliant red, which illustrated the historical significance of the power of red. During the Heian period, commoners were forbidden to wear red, so as acts of subterfuge, they began lining their garments in red and wearing red undergarments.

The exhibit is historically balanced and exceptionally well documented, and includes a wide range of cultures and an interesting variety of textiles. Dallas retailer Neiman Marcus is one of the sponsors. After viewing this exhibit, I stopped in to see the museum’s Jenkins Library. It is a treasure trove of books, videos, and other reference materials that are accessible to the public for use on site. The library staff members are enthusiastic in handling any request you may have regarding textile research and may be contacted via the website.

© 2007 by Lu Peters. All rights reserved.