The Houston Arts Alliance Folklife and Traditional Arts Program Presents
Textile Traditions From Houston’s Karenni Community
May 16 – July 6, 2012
@ Alliance Gallery
3201 Allen Parkway, 77019
Houston is home to refugee communities from around the world. They all bring with them distinctive traditions. The exhibition Weaving Home focuses on the weaving traditions practiced by women from one such community – a collection of Karenni families who now live in the city. Formerly from Myanmar (until recently known as Burma), the Karenni are a distinct ethnic community with origins in the country’s mountainous region bordering Thailand.
Working with a Houston-based micro-enterprise endeavor called The Community Cloth, a program of the Houston non-profit, Our Global Village, Karenni craftswomen have continued to produce traditional weavings but also to create items that appeal to a Western market. Weaving Home shows examples of both Karenni traditional and market-influenced pieces in an effort to tell the story of an art form at the center of refugee life.
In addition to the exhibition the HAA Folklife + Traditional Arts Program has organized a number of special public programs to explore the weaving tradition in this community, the refugee experience in Houston and the growing role of role of micro-enterprise efforts in promoting community-based cultural and economic sustainability.
Special Exhibition Programs@ Alliance Gallery3201 Allen Parkway, #125
Opening Reception, Thursday, May 24, 5:30 – 7 pm
In celebration of the exhibition, craftswomen and community members will be in attendance to demonstrate the backstrap technique they use for both their traditional and contemporary weavings.
Weaving & Micro-Enterprise, Thursday, May 31, 5:30 – 7 pm
Members of the Contemporary Handweavers of Houston and a co-Founder from The Community Cloth will conduct an informal panel discussion exploring the economics of handmade textiles and the mechanics of micro-enterprise endeavors. Participants will explore issues of tradition and modernity as they relate to the craft and strategies for community-based cultural preservation and economic sustainability.
Telling the Refugee Story, Thursday, June 21, 5:30 – 7 pm
Representatives from several Houston-based refugee communities will share events that led up to their displacement, their experience in refugee camps and resettlement in Houston. They will also discuss efforts – both the struggles and successes — to retain their respective community’s cultural identity in contemporary Texas.
Weaving Demonstration, Saturday, June 30, 2:00 – 4 pm
An up-close demonstration of the backstrap weaving tradition that Karenni women practice, including a discussion of traditional woven garments and their uses. Staff from The Community Cloth will talk about the process of working with the Karenni weavers to develop new products for the Western marketplace.
World Refugee Day Reception, Thursday, July 5, 5:30 – 7pm
This reception honors and celebrates the wide community of refugees that have found their way to Houston and the many agencies and volunteers who serve them. Houston’s World Refugee Day Co-Chairs, Lizeth Zavala and Emily Stickle, will review the 2012 event and share plans for 2013.
SPECIAL NOTE: Volunteers from The Community Cloth will have work from all of the refugee artists they serve available for purchase at all the above events. All proceeds return to the artists.
Weaving Home, an exhibition produced by the Houston Arts Alliance Folklife + Traditional Arts Program, is funded in part by the Houston Endowment, Inc., the National Endowment for the Arts, and Wells Fargo Bank.