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In The Gallery: Music As Art – Opera in Silk

  • Wednesday, Mar 20, 2019

Madison, Wis. (March 20, 2019) – Edgewood College Gallery presents Music As Art: Operas in Silk, opening Friday, March 29, 2019, in the Edgewood College Gallery.

  • Exhibition Dates: Friday, March 29 – Sunday, May 12, 2019
  • Reception: Friday, April 5, 5:00 -7:30 pm, Edgewood College Gallery

Edgewood College Gallery is pleased to partner with the School of Human Ecology, UW-Madison, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection with a rare presentation of an unusual textile that celebrates Italian opera. This elaborate handmade textile measures 9 x 10 feet with panels of Battenberg lace and six silk panels that feature exquisite embroidered lyres, irises and scenes from six different Italian operas.  It was gifted to the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection (HLATC) in the 1970s with multiple stories about its history, but no clear provenance (proof of origin).

Gallery Director David Wells saw the work in 2013 and proposed an exhibition that would research the object in conjunction with HLATC staff. An Edgewood College research team including faculty and students was organized, and while the research was being done, HLATC volunteers undertook necessary conservation efforts so the textile could be shown. Music as Art: Opera in Silk presents this extraordinary music-related object and the multidisciplinary inquiries to solve the mystery of its history.

While its origin and purpose remain unsolved, much has been learned about the material culture surrounding its imagery – especially the popularity of the six operas included: La Boheme, Manon, Strategia D’amore, Aida, Cavalleria Rusticana, and Tosca. See this impressive textile and learn more about the operas, the textile methods used in its making and the stories it has to tell.

The reception on Friday, April 5, from 5:00-7:30 pm will present a special program at 6:00 pm with former Madison Poet Laureate Andrea Musher presenting a poem related to opera, and Fresco Opera Theatre performing arias related to the textile. Additional programs include:

  • Thursday, April 4, Noon-1:00 pm: Edgewood College Art Historian Shad Wenzlaff - Music as Art: Italian Opera in Silk
  • Thursday, April 11, 5:00-6:30 pm: Carolyn Jenkinson, HLATC Curator of Collections - Opera in Silk – the Conservation Process. Lecture followed by a reception honoring the conservationists Betsy Tuttle, Sue Engstrom, and Yeonhee Cheong. 

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