Thousands of glass beads + fabric + amazingly talented women=Ubuhle women art work from South Africa. These women use beads in place of a paint brush. Most art pieces take an average of one year to make. The word “Ubuhle” means shimmering beauty. A step into the new exhibit at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH and I was surrounded by the shimmering beauty and the beautiful souls of the artists behind the art work.
Each piece has a truly unique style and celebrates life and the challenges that come with life. Some women are widows and others have friends and family members that have been lost to HIV/Aids. In order to survive and provide for their families this family of artists was developed. The women and children all live together on a farm and use the traditional beadwork their ancestors passed down adapting it to create the “canvas” panels.
The empowerment of the women living in this community, with their leader Bev Gibson, was the resounding voice I heard and keep hearing after walking away from this exhibition. I felt an overwhelming sense of exuberance for the South African women. Although life may be difficult, art has helped them overcome so many situations. There is a sense of gratitude that the women share. This is a take away after seeing the exhibit. Fabric, beads and love are a powerful combination.
Thank you to the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum for creating the exhibit and placing the works on display and an organized tour.