Ugandan bark cloth exhibition at UNT highlights sustainable art
DENTON (UNT), Texas -- A new exhibition at the University of North Texas features international artists and designers who create artistic works and everyday functional items from bark cloth, focusing on creating sustainable and environmentally friendly design solutions from a centuries-old process.
The exhibition -- titled Material Evolution: Ugandan Bark Cloth -- shows how bark cloth made from the Ugandan mutuba trees can be used to create commonplace items such as men's shoes, a jacket and a bark cloth-wrapped steering wheel. Other featured items include artistic works such as wall coverings made of bark cloth and a bark-cloth dress used in contemporary Ugandan wedding ceremonies.
The items will be on display March 1 (Tuesday) through March 26 (Saturday) at the UNT Art Gallery in the UNT Art Building, one block west of Mulberry and Welch streets. An opening reception will be held 4:30 to 6 p.m. March 1 (Tuesday).
"For hundreds of years, bark cloth has been a part of the Buganda Kingdom of Uganda, and now this unique material is finding a place in contemporary art and design, both in Uganda and abroad," said Lesli Robertson, curator of the exhibition and a lecturer in the fibers program at the UNT College of Visual Arts and Design.
Robertson, who is a faculty fellow in UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts, has traveled to Uganda several times in the last few years to study the process of making bark cloth. Also in the last few years, Robertson has organized various community projects to engage schoolchildren in Uganda and the United States in an exchange of artistic ideas. A mural created by those schoolchildren will be on display in the March exhibition.
Other related events are:
- Open Studio at UNT on the Square
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 26 (Saturday)
109 N. Elm St. in Denton
Designer Emily Brewer of Decode Designs in the United Kingdom will create two pieces from bark cloth in an open studio. During this time, viewers can watch a video of the process of making Ugandan bark cloth and a video documenting a traveling exhibition and community art workshops that were offered by Robertson. Brewer's final creations will be included in the March 1 – 26 exhibition at the UNT Art Gallery.
- Lecture by Oliver Heintz of Bark Cloth Europe
1 p.m. March 2 (Wednesday)
Eagle Student Services Center, Room 255
For 10 years, Oliver Heintz -- along with his wife and business partner, Mary Barongo-Heintz has been exploring the potential of Ugandan bark cloth to serve as a new material for artists and designers worldwide. He formed the company BARK CLOTH® Europe with offices and workshops in Uganda and Germany, where they continue to push the limits of this natural material by dyeing, gilding, rubberizing, bleaching and more. They have won numerous design awards throughout Europe, including the Innovation Award BioMaterial of the Year and the Materialica Design + Technology Award; they are nominated for the 2011 Design Award of The Federal Republic of Germany. This lecture is part of the CVAD Design Core Visiting Artist Program.
- Workshop with Oliver Heintz and Mary Barongo- Heintz of BARK CLOTH® Europe
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 28 (Monday)
Scoular Hall, near the northwest corner of Avenue A and Highland Street
$10 for students; $30 for professionals
Husband and wife business partners Oliver Heintz and Mary Barongo will host a workshop exploring the potential of bark cloth to be manipulated using a variety of 3D and surface design techniques including: dyeing, bleaching, felting, machine manipulations and mixed media applications. This workshop is open to DFW-area designers and artists, as well as UNT's upper-level studio art majors with an interest in material manipulation. For more information on Heintz and Barongo's own bark cloth explorations, visit www.barkcloth.de.
Artists and designers in the March 1 – 26 exhibition are:
- Gloria Wavamunno, a London-trained and Uganda-based fashion designer whose label GloRia WavaMunno was launched in 2009 at Africa Fashion Week in Johannesburg, South Africa.
- Susana Duarte-Pinto, whose fashion design label Losgeloest is based in Frieburg, Germany.
- Peter Boehm, whose company, Inform, specializes in custom designed furniture, cabinetry and more.
- Markus Werner, who creates shoes that combine ecological materials with unique design elements.
- Oliver Heintz and Mary Barongo Heintz, husband-and-wife business partners who formed the company BARK CLOTH® Europe, with offices and workshops in Uganda and Germany, to continue to push the limits of bark cloth by dyeing, gilding, rubberizing, bleaching and more.
- Sarah Nakisanze, Kampala-based designer and lecturer who has exhibited internationally.
- Sara Katebalirwe, owner and lead designer of Marie-Sar Agencies Limited based in Kampala, Uganda.
- Ivan Yakuze, who continues to explore the potential for bark cloth in the creation of works that have found their way into collections in the United States and Uganda.
- Renè Malcorps, owner and head designer at the company, Art Nature Design, based in Eindhoven, Netherlands, who creates bark cloth products under the brand Kingskin; selling special and sustainable products made of natural materials from Uganda.
- Emily Brewer, a UK-based designer who has been working with bark cloth for close to four years to create sustainable interior textile objects through her company, Decode Designs.