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A Mesmerizing Effect: ‘Woven Treasures’ At The Waldron

"Each one of these carpets has the effect of calming me. I just love to look at them. I'm sort of mesmerized by them."

  • Rug woven from camel hair and wool, South Central Turkey.

    Image 1 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    Rug woven from camel hair and wool, South Central Turkey.

  • Hex signs from Eastern Turkey.

    Image 2 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    Hex signs from Eastern Turkey.

  • Inside the vault

    Image 3 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    A tent has been re-created within a vault at the Ivy Tech Waldron, which was once City Hall.

  • Inside the vault detail

    Image 4 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    Inside the vault kneels a figure in traditional dress, surrounded by the things of daily life: a set for tea, a pair of shoes, a baby in a crib, and traditional decorations.

  • A detail of the bone inlaid in the lute.

    Image 5 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    A detail of the bone inlaid in the lute.

  • A primitive Middle-Eastern stringed instrument.

    Image 6 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    A primitive Middle-Eastern stringed instrument. Versions of this style of instrument exist with as many as thirty-two strings.

  • A lute with bone inlay from the twentieth century.

    Image 7 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    A lute with bone inlay from the twentieth century.

  • A Middle-Eastern flute.

    Image 8 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    A Middle-Eastern flute.

  • Flatweave wool rug from Western Turkey.

    Image 9 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    Flatweave wool rug from Western Turkey.

  • A garment and bags for carrying salt, from Iran.

    Image 10 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    A garment and bags for carrying salt, from Iran.

  • A sheep

    Image 11 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    A sheep's wool rug from Northern Iran.

  • Detail, wool rug from Northern Iran.

    Image 12 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    Detail, wool rug from Northern Iran.

  • Another detail, wool rug from Northern Iran.

    Image 13 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    Another detail, wool rug from Northern Iran.

  • Detail of a white bird

    Image 14 of 14

    Photo: Rachel Lyon

    The white birds woven into this Persian rug are just one of the many details to see in these textiles.

Event Information

Woven Treasures: Near- and Middle-Eastern Textiles


Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center

On view through September 30.

Free

Ivy Tech Waldron

This weekend at the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival, thousands of people will gather in Bloomington to listen to music from all over the world. But just off the beaten path, a quiet exhibition space at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center may provide a respite for those seeking a quieter space.

Treasures Of All Stripes

Woven Treasures is the name of a current exhibit at the Ivy Tech Waldron. It features a number of village, tribal, and nomadic textiles from the Middle East and Central Asia—but its treasures aren’t just woven.

The collection belongs to George Malacinski, a Professor Emeritus of Biology at Indiana University, and an avid collector. “We’ve got carpets on the floor, we’ve got out lute, we’ve got our crib with our baby, and some Turkemen decorations hanging inside the tent.”

“George has worked with our gallery director in bringing the rugs in. He has an extensive collection of international rugs that he keeps at his house.” Paul Daily is the Artistic Director at the Ivy Tech Waldron. Of Malacinski, he says, “He was excited to exhibit them at the Waldron, and to have that international tie with Lotus.”

Old Friends

Daily says Ivy Tech has had a long relationship with the Lotus Festival: Their chancellor was on the Festival advisory board from 2005-2010, and meanwhile the founding director of the Festival is on the advisory committee for the Ivy Tech Waldron. Under the auspices of the college, the Waldron is devoted to education.

“The building has transferred from being a community arts center that supported the arts to being a college building that allows the arts to happen here. However, we welcome the community in, so we do open our doors.”

A Colorful Tour

On a recent Thursday afternoon, George Malacinski showed a thoughtful group around the exhibit. His collection showcases treasures from Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekestan, and the Caucus Mountains. It’s a perfect fit for The Lotus Festival, which is dedicated to showcasing music from around the world.

On one wall hangs a sheep’s wool rug from Northern Iran.  Stripes constructed of diamonds set with upright and inverted triangles alternate with stripes of vibrant red and cerulean blue.

On another wall hangs a dark blue horse blanket from Persia, framed by stripes of yellow, red, green and black, and decorated with appliquéd red and yellow polka-dots.

By the window hangs a long, camel-colored rug from South Central Turkey— the only one in the collection that is in fact made of camel’s wool, and features delicate embroidery with complex, maze-like patterns on either edge.

This weekend, while the bustle of musicians and visitors fills the streets of Bloomington with energy and sound, in this gallery visitors in search of more contemplative spaces will find some quiet. “Each one of these carpets has the effect of calming me,” Malacinski tells the group. “They’re woven from the heart. I just love to look at them. I’m sort of mesmerized by them. To some people, music has this effect.”

Instruments For Visual, Not Aural, Appreciation

Sitting on the window sill are four silent instruments: two stringed instruments, a drum and a flute. The visitors gather around as Malacinski taps on the drum and plucks one of the stringed instruments.

“I acquired this as a cultural artifact, and believe it or not it never occurred to me to [strum it]. And my daughter, who was about ten years old at the time, she just picked it up and her first impulse was to do this, and she did it again.”

As an American viewer in the twenty-first century, it’s hard not to come to these artifacts with a sense of exploration, curiosity about other worlds. Encouraging that curiosity is what the Lotus Festival is all about. Here at the Ivy Tech Waldron, it can be indulged in just a little more quietly.

Rachel Lyon

A native of Brooklyn, NY, Rachel Lyon came to Bloomington in 2009 to pursue her MFA in Creative Writing at IU. At WFIU, she is an announcer for All Things Considered and classical music, and she produces features for Artworks. Rachel's glad to be working in radio again after a long drought since her undergraduate years, when she was a DJ for WPRB, the independent station in Princeton, NJ.

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