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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Historic Chinese textiles on display at URI

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Exhibit is part of URI Honors Colloquium, China Rising

KINGSTON, R.I. --October 10, 2007 – The University of Rhode Island Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design is presenting an exhibition focused on the history of Chinese textiles and apparel. The exhibit, free and open to the public, runs to Feb. 1, Quinn Hall, first floor, 55 Lower College Road, Kingston. The exhibit is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Power of Design: Chinese Textiles from the Historic Textile and Costume Collection, complements the ongoing, semester-long URI Honors Colloquium, China Rising. The series explores China’s dramatic transformation during the past three decades, a transformation that has returned that country to the leading role it has played throughout most of world history.

According to Margaret Ordoñez, professor of textile conservation and historic textiles and costume and director of the Historic Textile Costume Collection, The Power of Design exhibition showcases the incredible woven and embroidered designs in Chinese textiles. It shows how textiles and garments reflect much of pre-1912 life and thought in China. Many examples in the exhibition are positioned so that visitors can observe the detail and skillful embroidery.

Katie Baker of Newport, a graduate student who curated the exhibition, with the help of other graduate students, spent hundreds of hours preparing and installing the objects. “I think creating an exhibit around a concept like this one allows the objects to become more than just articles of clothing or strips of cloth,” Baker said. “We could have just put up all of our favorite items, labeled them and said ‘here, this is what traditional China looks like,’ but by displaying them in a way where their hidden meanings are made apparent to those outside the culture we promote the idea that dress is vital to the expression of cultural and personal identity.”

“I am very proud of the result and hope many people will come to see how the design and color in Chinese textiles so strongly represent their time and culture,” Ordoñez said.

According to Linda Welters, chair of the Department of Textiles, Fashion, Merchandising and Design, the Power of Design exhibit has seven sub-themes: to create order, to reflect ethnic origins, to express unity of heaven and earth, to represent religious and philosophical thought, to symbolize the continuity of the Chinese people, to create beauty, and to reflect technological advances.

Major sponsors of the colloquium are the Mark Ross ‘64 and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment, the Tom Silvia ’83 and Shannon Chandley ’83 Honors Colloquium Endowment, URI’s Honors Program, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Confucius Institute at URI, College of Business Administration, College of Engineering, and the Division of University Advancement.

For further details on the colloquium, including an updated schedule go to www.uri.edu/hc. For more information about the series, contact Deborah Gardiner at 401-874-2381.

URI Department of Communications and Marketing photos by Michael Salerno Photography