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Thursday, July 20, 2006
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New Kennedy Museum of Art exhibition explores tradition in design

ATHENS, Ohio (July 20, 2006) -- Ohio University's Kennedy Museum of Art opened its newest exhibition, "Navajo Basketry and Beadwork: Traditions and Innovations," Thursday, July 20, at the Kennedy Museum of Art (KMA). Admission is free and is open to the public.

The exhibition will highlight exquisite hand-crafted baskets made of natural fibers and fiber and beads by contemporary Navajo artists whose work is part of KMA's nationally recognized Kennedy Southwest Native American Collection. Several weavings from the collection, including ones representing sandpainting ceremonial imagery, will also be displayed.

The design philosophy surrounding contemporary Navajo basketry aims to tell the story not only of the individual artist making the basket but also the cultural stories that are part of Navajo ancestry and history.

The materials, designs and even the methods of construction of Navajo ceremonial and pictorial baskets convey important messages regarding cultural values and beliefs, said Jennifer McLerran, Ph.D., curator at the Kennedy Museum of Art and the exhibition curator.

"The designs used in Navajo baskets function as memory-evoking devices that facilitate the individual's capacity to order and make sense of experience," McLerran said.

Color and design in Navajo beadwork come from the artist's observation of the natural environment and from traditional Navajo belief and the beliefs and practices of the Native American Church, said McLerran.

"These multiple frames of reference give beads and beadwork shared meaning in Navajo culture. Individual meanings that reflect the artist's unique sensibility and experience also influence beadwork designs," McLerran said.

The exhibition runs through Dec. 17.

The Kennedy Museum of Art gallery hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, noon to 5 p.m.; Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Pre-arranged guided tours are available to community and school groups. For information or to book tours, call (740) 593-1304. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.ohiou.edu/museum.

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Media Contact: Kennedy Museum of Art Curator Jennifer McLerran, (740) 593-0952 or mclerran@ohio.edu

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