THE BEADED UNIVERSE was a world-encompassing, cross-cultural exhibition of man’s oldest and smallest portable art form. Focusing on the finest examples of work from ancient to contemporary times, the exhibition displayed 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. Beads are the ultimate recyclable object, passed from culture to culture and from generation to generation.

The exhibition included objects from The Bead Museum, The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Mingei International Museum, and private collections. For sixteen days during the installation and first public days of the exhibition, a family of Huichol Indians from Santa Catarina, Jalisco, Mexico worked in the Museum’s foyer, beading a four-foot diameter globe. Rosendo Carillo de la Rosa, his wife, Erika Torres Garcia, their son Isi, and Erika’s brother, Augustin Torres Garcia, embedded beads in wax with their traditional designs. The globe hung in the foyer throughout the exhibition. On May 31-June 1, a Bead Symposium was held by the Museum with 135 persons in attendance and included llustrated lectures by Gabrielle Liese, Jamey Allen, Lois Dubin, Armand Labbe, Naomi Lindstrom, and Ramona Solberg.

THE BEADED UNIVERSE traveled to the American Craft Museum in New York City for a presentation from October 21, 1999 through January 30, 2000, and to the North Dakota Museum of Art for a presentation from August 15 through October 15, 2000.

The Mingei International exhibition documentary videotape, THE BEADED UNIVERSE was made possible by an anonymous foundation.

Hahn Family Foyer, Pardee Grand Plaza Gallery, Cornell Rotunda, Plaza Gallery

Curatorial Consultants: Gabrielle Liese, Founder and Director, The Bead Museum, Prescott, Arizona; Lois Dubin, scholar and author of The History of Beads, which inspired the exhibition and on which it was based; and Robert Liu, Editor and Publisher of Ornament Magazine. The exhibition was sponsored by Joanne C. and Frank R. Warren. It was funded in part by the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program.


On View: Feb 01, 1997 - Nov 02, 1997

Curator: Martha Longenecker

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