The exhibition was funded in part by the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program.
THE BEADED UNIVERSE was a world-encompassing, cross-cultural exhibition of man’s oldest and smallest portable art form — the bead. The exhibition, which included beads from some 40 cultures, was inspired by and based on The History of Beads by Lois Sherr Dubin. The concise edition of her book serves as the catalogue.
Focusing on the finest examples of work from ancient to modern times, the exhibition offered an awareness of the extraordinary beauty of beads and the diversity of materials and techniques in beadwork. Beads reveal much about cultures by the many ways they have been used: as talismans in ancient and modern societies; as religious objects in the Buddhist, Christian and Islamic worlds; as symbols of affluence; and as a standard, cross-cultural medium of barter throughout the world.
A beaded globe, four feet in diameter, hung at the entrance to the exhibition. It was created by a family of Huichol Indians from the Mexican State of Jalisco in 1997 at Mingei International’s Balboa Park location. Also on view were ojime and netsukefrom Japan, a collection of European beaded evening bags, and, a complete Ndebele bride’s costume from South Africa. The exhibition also featured a grand Yoruba Chief’s robe, completely covered with beads, and three one-of-kind beaded garments by contemporary New York artist Sandra Rubel, one of which was decorated with sparkling images of the Empire State Building and World Trade Center.
The Mingei International Museum film, THE BEADED UNIVERSE, played throughout the run of the exhibition.