Global Textile Events

Source: Cloth Roads

National Mall Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Armenia: Creating Home; Catalonia: Tradition and Creativity from the Mediterranean

June 27–July 1 and July 4–8, 2018

Washington, D.C. 

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival honors contemporary living cultural traditions and celebrates those who practice and sustain them. Produced annually by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Festival has featured participants from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. This year’s festival will present two concurrent programs exploring the ways creative enterprises, such as artisan crafts, foster intergenerational learning, stimulate economies, and anchor cultural identities. The Festival will feature two regions this year: Armenia and Catalonia.

In addition to myriad activities and celebrations, a Festival Marketplace will be open on the mall daily. The market honors the creativity, cultural heritage, and masterful artisanal skills of festival participants. Pottery, jewelry, embroidery work, woven baskets, and other traditional handicrafts from Armenia and Catalonia will be available. The pop-up International Folk Art Market allows visitors to meet master artists from fifteen countries and to purchase extraordinary handmade folk art. Purchases supports artist and artisan groups but also contribute to the sustained development of traditional crafts worldwide and, ultimately, the mission of the Smithsonian.

Ruben and Karen Ghazaryan, stone cutters from Armenia.


Western New Mexico University

Festival Latina

June 22–24. 2018

Silver City, New Mexico  

The festival includes the Artisan Mercado featuring traditional master artisans from all across Mexico in addition to a music stage with free entertainment throughout the weekend, and an exciting new event this year, the Transcending Border film/discussion series, featuring documentaries of five visiting artisans.

Detail from golden orbweaver spider silk cape, hand-woven with embroidered and appliquéd motifs. Madagascar. Designed and created by Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley (2011). Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum


Courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum .

Royal Ontario Museum

Fashion & Textiles Lecture Series

June–July, 2018

Toronto, Canada  

Thought-provoking lectures offered throughout the summer. June 1: “Journeys In Indigo—Red Sea To Rajasthanby Jenny Balfour-Paul”; June 29: A Revolution in the Bedroom—How Indian Dyed Cottons Transformed Europe’s Interiors in the 17th And 18th Centuriesby Rosemary Crill”; July 6: Spider Silk—A Golden Opportunity by Simon Peers.


Museum Hill

15th Anniversary of the International Folk Art Market

July 13–15, 2018

Santa Fe, New Mexico  


Resists: Exploring Resist-dyed Textiles across Cultures

April 25–December 13, 2018

Leeds, England  

The exhibition presents examples of the principal resist-dyeing techniques, including batik, ikat, resist block printing, stencils, tie-dye, and other stitched techniques and will feature of samples of ajrakh, English Wax, katagami, and shibori. The exhibition particularly showcases two recent collections to come to ULITA: the Coleman Indonesian Collection and the West African O’Hear Collection.



Lois Russell, “Magic Bus,” 2012. Waxed linen. Courtesy of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.


Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America

June 2–September 2, 2018

Houston, Texas 

An exhibition chronicling the history of American basketry, from its origins in Native American, immigrant, and slave communities to its presence within the contemporary fine-art world. Image: Lois Russell, “Magic Bus,” 2012. Waxed linen. Courtesy of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.


Minneapolis Institute of Art

Miao Clothing and Jewelry from China

November 4, 2017–July 1, 2018

Minneapolis, Minnesota  

For the Miao people of southern China, elaborate festival costumes and silver adornments are the most important forms of visual art, and their embroidery and indigo-dyeing techniques are renowned. This exhibition features nearly 50 examples from Institute’s collection of more than 1,200 textiles and 450 pieces of jewelry made in the last century by Miao artists


Estes Park Events Center

Estes Park Wool Market

June 7–June 10, 2018

Now in its 28th year, festival-goers can experience all stages in the life of fiber, from its origins on the animals themselves to raw fleeces, spinning, and the creation of beautiful textiles. The Festival offers competitions, workshops, and merchandise vendors, including ClothRoads.


Textile Tour Highlight

Textiles of Lao

January 16-31, 2019

Join Valerie Kirk, senior lecturer and head of textiles at Australian National University, on a journey from the cultural center of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, across the Mekong into the beautiful country of Laos, the home for many minority people who still produce and wear colorful fabrics using generation’s old techniques. You’ll meet local artisans as well as internationally acclaimed practitioners. Plus workshops will provide hands-on experience, and of course galleries, shops and village markets provide opportunities for collectors.


Smithsonian Freer/Sackler Galleries

To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia

March 24–July 29, 2018

Washington, D.C.

About thirty of the finest historical Central Asian ikat hangings and coats from the Freer and Sackler collections as well as seven of Oscar de la Renta’s iconic creations will be on view. The aim of the exhibition is to explore the original use and function of these exquisite fabrics and the enduring appeal of their extraordinary designs.

The process of creating ikats involved collaboration among different communities. Bundles of threads are patterned by repeated binding and resist dyeing before being woven into narrow strips and immersed into sequential vats of color. In multi-ethnic 19th-century Central Asia, each “group” played a different role in the process. The Jews were responsible for importing and dyeing indigo, while the Tajiks were in charge of  dyeing yellow-and red. The Uzbeks served as the weavers, who turned the brightly colored threads into the textiles seen in the exhibition.

The finished ikats are more than ornate fabrics. Transformed into brightly colored panels or sumptuous robes for men and women, they are works of art. The panels or curtains added colorful accents to the mud-brick architecture of Central Asia, while the coats were striking statement items that adorned wealthy men and women. Worn on special occasions as status symbols, they functioned in the same way as many of de la Renta-designer garments do today.

The majority of the ikats on display are from 19th-century Uzbekistan. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, rare ikat fabrics once concentrated in Central Asia began spreading to the West, explains curator Massumeh Farhad. Ikat then caught the eye of contemporary fashion designers, such as Oscar de la Renta and the Italian fashion house Etro, in the late 1990s, and has steadily gained popularity since.

The textiles are accompanied by a slideshow of images that give viewers insight to the environment and times that fostered the creation of these extraordinary pieces.

(Top) Woman’s silk and cotton robe, Central Asia, late 19th century.  All photos courtesy of the Freer/Sackler Gallery.



National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence

May 12–September 17, 2018

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 

This exhibition showcases a form of bead art, ndwangos, developed by a community of women living and working together in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The artisans embellish Czech glass beads over black fabric. The Ubuhle community was established to create employment for rural women.


Weave A Real Peace (WARP)

Annual Meeting

June 7–10, 2018

Decorah, Iowa 

Researchers, anthropologists, artisans, and textile partners join WARP members to present new possibilities for increasing support of artisans through advocacy and collaboration.



China National Silk Museum

A World of Looms: Weaving Technology and Textile Arts in China and Beyond

May 30––September 15, 2018

Hangzhou, China  

This is the first exhibition in China to present the rich cultural heritage of looms and weaving technologies from around the world. It celebrates the marches of textile innovations in not only China, but also in a broader context of textile traditions over vast geographical areas.


Art Institute of Chicago

Music and Movement: Rhythm in Textile Design

May 18–October 21, 2018

Chicago, Illinois

Featuring a selection of 17th- through 20th-century works made in countries including Brazil, Finland, France, Japan, and the United States, the exhibition highlights the global nature of the Art Institute’s collection and invites visitors to consider how rhythm informs textile design. Image: Furoshiki (Wrapping Cloth), early Shôwa period (1926–89), 1926/35. Japan. Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Victoria and Albert Museum

Fashioned from Nature

April 21–January 27, 2019

London, England  

This exhibition will present fashionable dress alongside natural history specimens, innovative new fabrics, and dyeing processes, inviting visitors to think about the materials of fashion and the sources of their clothes. Image: Rose-patterned silk train (detail). Circa 1890s. ©Victoria and Albert Museum.


Textile Tour Highlight

Mexico City & Oaxaca: Designers & Artisans

September 27–October 8, 2018

Discover the exciting confluence of old and new Mexico and gain a deeper understanding of this vivid, richly-layered country. Explore how designers and artisans are working to create an original, modern Mexican aesthetic rooted in the country’s traditional textile and handcraft traditions—both indigenous and mestizo. This is not your typical trip to Mexico.

Guided by Ana Paula Fuentes, a Mexico City native and the founding director of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, you’ll visit the studios and showrooms of urban textile designers and explore the remote Mixteca Region of Oaxaca where people still make and wear traditional textiles. The trip concludes in delightful Oaxaca City known for its weaving and craft centers, stunning pre-hispanic archeological sites, and vibrant cultural and food scene.

For details:


Museum of International Folk Art

Beadwork Adorns the World

April 22–February 3, 2019

Santa Fe, New Mexico  

The ultimate migrants, small glass beads travel the world and end up entering the cultural lives of people far away. This April, the Museum of International Folk Art opens the exhibition, Beadwork Adorns the World, exploring the transitory path of beads. Whether these extraordinary glass beads originated from the island of Murano in Venice, Italy or the mountains of Bohemia, where they start out is seldom where they end up. Artisans in their new locale make them into something specific to their own world view.

Very few cultures have ever lived in total isolation from other peoples. Contact with others beyond the immediate community allows for new markets and new uses for beadwork, as well as opportunities to survive creatively.

In most parts of the world, beads are highly valued and are used to mark peak moments in life. With their luster and sparkle used as an adornment or surface additive, they help to heighten the effect, the impact, the meaning. These special moments in the life of the community tend to revolve around life stages and passages, such as birth; becoming an adult; marriage and death; power, position, or status in the community; and communication with the spirits.

Much of the exhibition has been created from the Museum’s extensive collection, but curator Marsha Bol has arranged loans of other pieces from the Field Museum, UCLA’s Fowler Museum, the Roswell Museum and Art Center, and several private collections. Not all beads in the exhibit are made of glass. Some are constructed from metal, cloth, shell, stone, and other materials.

Backstage exhibition tours, running through mid-April, will take visitors into the workshops and restricted areas of the Museum to get a first-hand look at the exhibit development process. Additionally, publication of a companion book The Art & Tradition of Beadwork will be released concurrent with the exhibition opening.

Top: China poblana blouse, 1935. Mexico cotton, glass beads.  All photos courtesy of the Museum of International Folk Art.


Victoria and Albert Museum

Fashioned from Nature

April 21–January 27, 2019

London, England 

This exhibition will present fashionable dress alongside natural history specimens, innovative new fabrics and dyeing processes, inviting visitors to think about the materials of fashion and the sources of their clothes.  Image: Mantua and petticoat of white brocaded silk, 1733-1734. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


11th International Shibori Symposium

June 26–July 29, 2018


The 11th International Shibori Symposium spans three regions of Japan, exploring legacies of craft and local industry in three different regions. Call for Entry for International Student Competition open now, closes May 24, 2018. Students across the globe present innovative 2D and 3D art inspired by material manipulation and cutting-edge technical application, pushing the boundaries of contemporary art.


Textile Tour Highlight

Textile Traditions of Bhutan

December 12–29, 2018 

This magical journey will wind through fertile valleys and villages, traversing the country to reach the little-visited textile heartland of “kushutara” in Eastern Bhutan. This trip is designed to deepen your experience of this fascinating country with a focus on Bhutanese textiles and interactions with locals. This tour has been crafted especially for people who love textiles, craft and local culture and who seek the immersive experience of travelling with Wendy Garrity, who has lived and breathed Bhutan and is passionate about the Bhutanese people, their culture, and particularly their weaving.


Bard Graduate Center Gallery

Fabricating Power with Balinese Textiles

February 23–July 8, 2018

New York, New York 

Fabricating Power with Balinese Textiles presents the making and use of textiles from Bali as ceremonial objects. It also explores the role of textiles as symbols of cultural resilience and continuity. The exhibition reaches back to the 1930s fieldwork of a group of Western expatriates, including anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, who converged on the predominantly Hindu Island of Bali, in the Indonesian archipelago. They arrived to document artistic practices and ceremonies, motivated by the concern that these would soon be lost to Western influence and modernity. The seminal research by Mead and Bateson on Balinese culture include extensive notes that describe the use of cloth in various ceremonies and indicate that weaving was a highly ritualized, ongoing activity.

Displayed will be exquisite and rare pieces assembled from collections in the United States, including examples from the American Museum of Natural History that were collected by Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson during their fieldwork in Bali. These textiles, which derive their aesthetic and ritual powers from techniques of fabrication and use in various life cycle ceremonies, also serve as records of an important period in Balinese history.

The exhibition is organized in three sections: Beliefs, Offerings, and Life Ceremonies, which offer insights into weaving traditions, aesthetics, and ritual practices. Each section encourages visitors to consider the powerful role of textiles as documented in the 1930s and as it is made and used today.

Companion activities include a spotlight tour with curator Urmila Mohan, workshops with the Textile Arts Center, and Balinese music concerts.


Textile Museum at George Washington University

Binding the Clouds: The Art of Central Asian Ikat

March 10–July 9, 2018

Washington, D.C.  

In the region that is now Uzbekistan, oasis towns were once full with the rainbow colors of ikat fabrics. Through artworks recently donated to the museum, this exhibition focuses on the sophisticated dyeing technique known in Uzbekistan as abrband (binding the clouds). Image: Mid-19th century hanging, Uzbekistan.. Photo courtesy of The Textile Museum.


Textile Museum of Canada

Anne Kidd: Curious. Date

March 14–June 10, 2018

Toronto, Canada  

The exhibition presents four series of textile artist Anne Kidd’s work, along with pieces she has selected from the Museum’s global tapestry collection. Each object artfully illustrates individual and cultural ingenuity in the techniques of tapestry weaving. Selections include Coptic fragments made in Egypt, examples of Peruvian tapestry, and 19th-century Chinese silk slit tapestry, and a stunning Mexican serape.


Museum of Fine Arts

Collecting Stories: Native American Art

April 14, 2018–March 10, 2019

Boston, Massachusetts 

The exhibition focuses on objects collected in the formative years of building the early holdings of Native American art at the Museum of Fine Arts. Highlights include an early Navajo blanket, a pair of important Eastern Woodlands moccasins, and a Plains headpiece, made of deer and porcupine hair.