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County of San Bernardino

February 2, 2004
For release: IMMEDIATELY
Contact: Jennifer Reynolds, media specialist, (909) 798-5048
Ann Deegan, curator of history, (909) 307-2669 ext. 236

Event place: Redlands
Event dates: February 14; through July 4


A new exhibit at the San Bernardino County Museum about Guatemalan textiles, "Beauty for the Hand and Eye: Guatemalan Textile Techniques from the Atwater Collection," will be the subject of a gallery talk by Curator of History Ann Deegan on Saturday, February 14, at 1:00 p.m. The talk and exhibit tour is free with museum admission.

The exhibit is the second in a series of displays based on the museum's Mary Meigs Atwater Collection of Guatemalan textiles. Mary Atwater is considered to have been instrumental in reviving interest in hand weaving in the United States in the early twentieth century. Married to a mining engineer and living in a remote community in Basin, Montana, she learned to weave as an outlet for her own artistic abilities and to provide a project for other women in the community. This project led to the formation of the Shuttle-Craft Guild and Weaving Shop. In 1924, after working as an occupational therapist following World War I, she began publishing the Shuttle-Craft Guild Bulletin, which continued monthly until 1946. She taught weaving in workshops and through correspondence courses, published many technical articles and books, and researched weaving techniques in museums. Her interest in Guatemalan textiles surfaced in 1938 and culminated in a trip to Guatemala in 1946 during which she collected textiles that represented indigenous weaving techniques before they were lost to designs manufactured for a tourist market. In 1946 she published "Guatemala Visited," recounting her trip and laying out instructions for eleven weaving techniques.

"Mary Atwater collected Guatemalan textiles, analyzed the techniques used to manufacture them on back strap looms, and translated the techniques so they could be used on European style looms," explained Ann Deegan. "She was not interested in teaching weavers how to copy Guatemalan textiles. Instead, she encouraged weavers to look to these designs and techniques as inspirations for their own work. The exhibit title, 'Beauty for the Hand and Eye,' refers to the beauty of the original textiles, and the inspiration they provide for hand weavers in other western cultures."

The exhibit shows textiles from the Atwater collection along with graphs and instructions from Mary Atwater's publications that analyzed them. Viewers can compare the actual fabrics from which Mary Atwater did her research as well as samples she and her students wove on European style looms to reproduce them. "Beauty for the Hand and Eye" runs through July 4.

Ann Deegan is Curator and Head of the History Division at the San Bernardino County Museum. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in the area of historic textiles and a M.S. from University of California, Davis, in Textiles. As part of her job she curates and researches the Mary Meigs Atwater Collection, a part of the Western Textile Center Collection of the San Bernardino County Museum. Deegan will discuss the exhibit and Mary Atwater's journey to Guatemala at a museum gallery talk on Saturday, February 14. A presentation in the Fisk Gallery will include a slide show and examples of textiles from the collections followed by a curator-led tour of the exhibit. The gallery talk is free with museum admission.

"A Blaze of Color: Mary Meigs Atwater and the Guatemalan Textile Tradition," will be released as a San Bernardino County Museum Association Quarterly publication on February 14. This book includes a reprint of Mary Atwater's Guatemala Visited and the first publication of her daily journal from her 1946 trip. The volume is liberally illustrated with black and white and color plates of textiles and graphed designs of Guatemalan textile motifs from the Mary Meigs Atwater Collection in the San Bernardino County Museum. The volume will be on sale in the Museum Store.

The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays and holiday Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 (adult), $5 (senior or student) and $4 (child aged 5-12). Children under 5 and Museum Association members are admitted free. Parking is free, and the facility is handicapped-accessible. Lunch and snacks are available at the museum's Garden Café from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit or call (909) 307-2669 / TDD/TTY: (909) 792-1462.


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San Bernardino County Museum - (909) 307-2669 - 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, California 92374 TDD/TYY: (909) 792-1462

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