Kuna Mola: Maintaining Tradition Amid Change

Nov 2 - Dec 8, 2002

Fifty molas -- elaborate, colorful, reverse-applique, layered fabric panels, originally created to adorn women's blouses -- are on view. Living on a chain of tropical islands off the northern coast of Panama known as the San Blas archipelago, the Kuna people have sustained their traditional way of life for hundreds of years, aided in part through the creation, trade and sale of the intricately designed textiles.

Mola designs reflect the interplay between tradition and change in Kuna society and may depict geometric patterns, stylized animals and birds, birth and death rituals, and even advertising logos. The molas offer a window into Kuna spirituality, ceremony, ritual, and environment, as well as a visual record of the influences of tourism and modernity.

Extensive wall texts, costumes, photographs, books, and maps, supplement the exhibition.

A public opening weekend reception will be held on Sunday, November 3, from 2 until 4 p.m.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission donation: $2. Parking is free. The Hearst Art Gallery, a non-profit museum, is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

"Kuna Mola" is a program of ExhibitsUSA, a division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, and generously supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the H & R Block Foundation, Richard Florsheim Art Fund, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Sprint, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. Extensive wall texts, a costume, photographs, a video, books, study guides, and maps, supplement the exhibition.