FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2019
(Santa Fe, New Mexico) – The Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) presents From Combat to Carpet: The Art of Afghan War Rugs, opening January 12, 2020 and running until August 30, 2020. From Combat to Carpet is a traveling exhibition curated by Enrico Mascelloni and Annemarie Sawkins and features more than 40 handwoven rugs with war-related iconography collected over the past forty years.
The exhibition made its debut at the Villa Terrace Decorative Art Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has been traveling throughout the United States. The version opening at MOIFA is supplemented with items from the museum’s permanent collection, including older carpets from the region.
War rugs “are the production of women artists, and of communities speaking globally not just locally,” said co-curator Annemarie Sawkins. “War rugs reflect Afghanistan’s historic and modern place as a busy cultural crossroads. They reveal the observant and innovative nature of the people who produced them.”
Afghan “war rugs” gained international attention following the Soviet invasion of 1979 when millions of refugees fled to neighboring Pakistan and Iran. This unique subset of handwoven rugs can teach us about the innovative nature of rug design and production, as well as the long history of foreign involvement in Afghanistan.
Rug producers, provoked by decades of traders and invaders in the country, adapted traditional motifs and compositions, translating them into depictions of world maps, tourist sites, weapons, and military figures. Such war rugs have proven popular among occupying military personnel, journalists, foreign aid workers, international collectors, and contemporary art curators. Over the years, rug makers have continued to update popular imagery and themes to reflect current events, changing technologies, and the tastes of potential buyers.
The emergence of war-related imagery in Afghan rug design has clearly aided the economic survival of area weavers and displaced craftspeople through years of armed conflict and cultural disruption. What war rugs mean to individual weavers is less understood. Are war rugs a celebration of modernity or a rejection of war? Are they a witness to shared trauma or a commercialization of violence? Are they testaments to ingenuity and a spirit of survival? Perhaps they are all of these things at once.
From Combat to Carpet Public Opening
Location: Cotsen Gallery, Atrium, Auditorium, Museum of International Folk Art
Date: January 12, 2020
Time: 1 - 4 p.m.
The opening will feature a public talk by curator Annemarie Sawkins, and light refreshments provided by the Women’s Board.
About the Museum of International Folk Art:
The Museum of International Folk Art is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, through the generous support of donors.
Founded in 1953 by Florence Dibell Bartlett, the Museum of International Folk Art’s mission is to shape a humane world by connecting people through creative expression and artistic traditions. The museum holds the world’s largest international folk art collection of more than 150,000 objects from six continents and over 150 nations, representing a broad range of global artists whose artistic expressions make Santa Fe an international crossroads of culture. For many visitors, fascination with folk art begins upon seeing the whimsical toys and traditional objects within the Girard Collection. For others, the international textiles, ceramics, carvings and other cultural treasures in the Neutrogena Collection provide the allure. The museum’s historic and contemporary Latino and Hispano folk art collections, spanning the Spanish Colonial period to modern-day New Mexico, reflect how artists respond to their time and place in ways both delightful and sobering. In 2010, the museum opened the Mark Naylor and Dale Gunn Gallery of Conscience, where exhibitions encourage visitors to exchange ideas on complex issues of human rights and social justice.
706 Camino Lejo, on Museum Hill in Santa Fe, NM 87505. (505) 476-1200. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, May through October; closed Mondays November through April, closed Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Events, news releases and images about activities at the Museum of International Folk Art and other divisions in the Department of Cultural Affairs can be accessed at media.newmexicoculture.org.