Winter 2024 | Mingei International Museum

A Word From Jess

As we begin a new year, it is with great joy and anticipation that we reflect on 2023 and eagerly look forward to the possibilities that 2024 holds for Mingei International Museum. In this edition of Communiqué, we invite you to join us in celebrating the theme of movement—a theme that is ever-present at the Museum.

One of the defining moments of the past year was the award of a significant grant from the Getty Foundation, supporting our work on the highly anticipated 2024 exhibition, Blue Gold. Opening in September 2024, Blue Gold has been years in the making. Our curatorial team has conducted research, traveled to indigo-producing communities, and connected with scores of historians and artisans to learn about the vast history of indigo and its applications in objects from around the world.

Whether plant or chemically derived, indigo is part of everyday life for most of us, including anyone who owns a pair of blue jeans! Yet even those familiar with indigo are unaware of the history of this plant’s movement and evolution around the world, the dye techniques it has inspired, the current challenges facing it, and the surprising number of applications beyond its use in textiles. Blue Gold is a testament to Mingei’s commitment to sharing relevant exhibitions and the profound impact of art, craft, and design in our lives.

Prestige Cloth Wrapper, 20th Century. Nigeria, Yoruba people. Cotton, indigo. Collection Mingei International Museum. ©Mingei International Museum.

Our Annual Highlights section looks at a few of the statistics and anecdotes that define this past year at the Museum. We welcome thousands of visitors to our galleries every month, but there’s much more going on both in and outside of the building! Summer camps and school visits in the classroom, community groups activating our theater space, installations featuring other nonprofit organizations in our arcade niche, art instruction at elementary schools, and ongoing training for our fantastic docent ambassadors at least once a month! And that’s just a partial list. Mingei has a diverse and growing community of collaborators, members, visitors, and supporters, all of whom help keep us moving and innovating.

As we look forward to the coming months, we are excited to unveil the exhibition, Shirin Towfiq: Threaded Journeys, set to open in March. Towfiq is a local artist with a personal story of movement - across distance, borders, and identity. With ties to traditional craft and folklore, her work reveals the stories and themes that universally emerge from temporal and geographical distance from one's cultural home.

In this issue, we also delve more into the exhibition La Frontera, an upcoming installation that features 24 jewelry artists whose work addresses the concept of the border. Kerianne Quick, a jewelry designer and Associate Professor of Jewelry and Metalwork at San Diego State University, is one of the incredible artists in the show. In an interview, she shares the profound meaning behind her creations, offering insights into how jewelry becomes a powerful medium for expressing the complexities of the U.S./Mexico border, with a particular focus on the San Diego/Tijuana region.

Our commitment to creating unique and engaging experiences extends beyond our galleries. You can travel to different regions without leaving San Diego through the popular ARTIFACT at Night series, where the Museum’s restaurant builds connections between art and culinary traditions. The Michelin recognized ARTIFACT delivers a memorable feast every time, which I can personally attest to as a frequent diner! I hope to see you there.

As we move forward into 2024, let us embrace the spirit of movement—movement in art, movement in culture, and movement in the shared stories that connect us all. Thank you for being an integral part of the Mingei community, and we look forward to another year of inspiration together.

Warm regards,


Exhibition Highlight

Shirin Towfiq: Threaded Journeys

Interdisciplinary artist Shirin Towfiq explores the stories and memories shared by her own family, while navigating the in-betweenness and uncertainty she feels as a second-generation Iranian refugee. Her work is inspired by Persian folk art, lore, and traditions, which she reimagines through embroidery, patchwork, and digital prints on gauze.

Shirin Towfiq, Thinking About Migration”, 20 digital prints on gauze with fan, 15’ x 10’ installation. Courtesy of the Artist.

In the exhibition, Shirin Towfiq: Threaded Journeys, Towfiq weaves connections between Persian folk tales of the magic carpet – with its ability to transport people at incredible speed – to her experience of cultural dislocation. She embeds her version of the magic carpet with references to home and belonging; freedom and the feeling of being uprooted; and the intricacies of cross-cultural identity.

Folk art and craft are deeply rooted in traditions passed down through generations, with techniques and skills serving as a living record of the past. In the present, through folk art and craft, many can find a connection to “home”, and a way to go beyond geographic boundaries to find comfort and belonging. Towfiq, who grew up in Oceanside, addresses the inherent tug between disparate identities, while exploring the craft and tradition central to her Persian heritage.

Object of Note

Ladder Back Chair

Russ Filbeck is a master chairmaker in San Diego, California. Following his retirement from the Navy, he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Industrial Studies at San Diego State University and taught furniture making for nearly a decade at Palomar College. He is known for slatted armchairs and rocking chairs, in keeping with an early American style brought to the Southern Appalachian region by immigrants from England. The woven seats of his chairs are made from hickory bark, which Russ harvests in Missouri, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.

This stunning chair is on view in the exhibition Over/Under: Woven Craft at Mingei.

Adorning Borders

Kerianne Quick

Meet Kerianne Quick, a local jewelry designer and Associate Professor of Jewelry and Metalwork at San Diego State University (SDSU). Kerianne holds a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Design from SDSU, a Master of Fine Arts in Metal from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and worked as a research assistant for Dutch designer Gijs Bakker in Amsterdam. Her impressive exhibition record spans prestigious venues like the Museum of Art and Design in NYC, Museo Franz Mayer in Mexico City, the National Museum for Women in the Arts in D.C., Salon del Mobile in Milan, and Design Week Amsterdam.

Most recently, her work can be found in Mingei’s upcoming exhibition, La Frontera, an exhibition that explores the complexity of the U.S.–Mexico border as a physical reality, geopolitical construction, and state of being through the medium of jewelry. Rooted in exploring craft as a cultural phenomenon, with a focus on material specificity and personal adornment, Kerianne shares about her work in the show.

A Year in Review

2023 Highlights

This year the Museum opened four major exhibitions 25 Million Stitches: One Stitch, One Refugee, African By Design: Form, Pattern, and Meaning in African Craft, Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper, and Over/Under: Woven Craft at Mingei, in addition to our bi-annual juried show featuring the craft works by local high school students. We also mounted an installation focused on two local artists - basket weavers Neil and Francine Prince on the Commons Level.

Our Visitors

From educational programming to daily admissions, visitors from all over walked through our doors this year.

  • Family Sunday & Mini Mingei Attendees: 990

  • Outreach Program Students Reached: 225

  • K-12 Students Toured: 1,000

  • Library Guests: over 10,000

  • Gallery Level Guests: over 55,700

Community is at the heart of everything we do. Local artists, designers, and craftspeople are included in our exhibitions, lead educational workshops and programs, and are also featured in Shop Mingei.

Additionally, in 2023 we provided our theater space free of charge to over 15 local arts and culture organizations through the Community Mondays program. Organizations included: Viet Vote, Border Angels, Dreams+Ducats, and Persian Place – just to name a few!

We also highlighted local arts and culture organizations through our Community Spotlight program, where artists and organizations create installations in our arcade niche. This past year there were installations made by Sherman Heights Community Center, PASACAT Philippine Performing Arts Company, and DiscoRiot.

Dine Global, Stay Local

Culinary adventures are back! ARTIFACT at Night is an exclusive monthly event that offers a prix fixe dinner, each time highlighting the diverse flavors of various regions around the world.

In January, embark on a gastronomic journey to Piedmont and North East Italy; then, in February, savor the tastes of Germany; and mark your calendar for March, when the spotlight turns to Hong Kong and Cantonese cuisine. Don't miss your chance to take part in these one-of-a-kind dining experiences.

Upcoming 2024 ARTIFACT at Night Dates

  • Thursday, January 25: Italy’s Piedmont
  • Thursday, February 22: Germany
  • Thursday, March 21: Cantonese Cuisine from Hong Kong
Calendar of Events

Donors of Note

Mingei International Museum is grateful to all its members and friends who provide financial support throughout the year. Be it through an annual membership, a contribution to the annual appeal, a donation in support of special exhibitions or programs, or a legacy gift through a will or bequest – every donor provides essential funds that continue to make the Museum a special place for all.

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