Made in Mexico: The Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion
6 June – 30 August 2014
The first-ever exhibition centred on the classic Mexican shawl.
Popular among revolutionaries, artists, writers and collectors, the rebozo takes its name from a Castilian term which means to cover or protect yourself.
The garment originated in Mexico during the early colonial period when artisans hoped to emulate the embroidered shawls and mantillas of the Spanish. Its popularity meant it became a central element of the nation's traditional women’s outfit, the China Poblana.
Today, most Mexican women own at least one rebozo and it is seen as an essential part of daily life. Still woven using traditional techniques, it is worn from birth to death and functions as both a baby carrier as well as a shroud.
The exhibition includes historic rebozos from the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City, as well as examples once owned by folk art academic Ruth D. Lechuga, which are travelling to the UK for the first time.
Also on display are works by painters, conceptual artists and fashion designers, who were invited to present their response to the rebozo. Among those featured are Francisco Toledo, Carla Fernandez, Kaffe Fassett and Zandra Rhodes.
The most famous proponent of the rebozo was artist Frida Kahlo, who embraced the traditional costume as a political statement of solidarity with the labourers of her country. The exhibition explores her key role in bringing the rebozo to prominence, as well as drawing parallels with 21st century musician Lila Downs, who promotes Mexican textiles through her art and performance in the same way.