Design Gallery

Ancient Looms, Modern Threads
Contemporary Handwoven Garments from Oaxaca, Mexico

Saturday, May 21 – Saturday, August 13

Community celebration Saturday, July 30


Summer hours beginning May 21: Wednesday to Saturday, Noon – 4 p.m.

This exhibition of handwoven garments from the Mexican state of Oaxaca explains the evolution of a traditional woman’s garment called a huipil (pronounced wee-PEAL). Masters of Science Candidate Carolyn Jenkinson traces the history of this ancient garment from its traditional function and aesthetic to its contemporary form. The exhibit demonstrates how indigenous women today continue to weave huipiles on the backstrap loom and are reframing clothing as a objects of creative expression and economic necessity.

Learn how these beautiful garments are constructed and how they have changed over time to include new materials, new designs, and new audiences. A celebration will be held Saturday, July 30.




¡Celebrate Oaxaca!

Saturday July 30, 11am -2pm (Gallery hours: 11am-4 pm)

School of Human Ecology, on the lawn of Nancy Nicholas Hall, 1300 Linden Dr., Madison


Hosted in conjunction with the exhibition “Ancient Looms, Modern Threads: Contemporary Handwoven Garments of Oaxaca, Mexico”


Weaving Activities: Try your hand at weaving! There will be backstrap weaving demonstrations and fiber activities and for families and children of all ages. Go home with your own handspun cotton!

Artisan Blouse Sale: The opportunity to purchase a handmade huipil of your own. Sample blouses produced by Mexican artisan weavers will be available to order on this day through the Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace. 100% of the proceeds from these sales will support weavers and increase economic stability in their community.

Food: Spread of regional foods and sweets including fresh tamales catered by Taqueria Guadalajara Restaurant and authentic chocolate beverage from native Oaxacan plants.

Music: Listen to regional music

Exhibition: View the incredible textiles on display in the exhibition. Learn how Mexican indigenous women today continue to weave garments on the backstrap loom and are reframing clothing as objects of creative expression and economic necessity.


Special tours for public groups and summer camps welcome! Contact Carolyn Jenkinson to schedule an appointment.

The exhibition is supported, in part, by the Design Studies Departmental Thesis Award, the School of Human Ecology Graduate Student MS Thesis Award, and the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program.

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About Design Gallery

The Ruth Davis Design Gallery holds exhibitions that relate to the processes and results of design. Together we encourage research, education and outreach by bringing together the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, the Design Gallery and Ruth Ketterer Harris Library, as well as undergraduate and graduate programs in Design Studies. We are located in the new Nancy Nicholas Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology.Completed in June 2012, the LEED-certified Nancy Nicholas Hall supports the School’s mission to improve the quality of human life, through its education, research, creative endeavors, outreach and engagement. This technology-rich environment facilitates webinars, video conferencing, and interactive learning. Its accessibility, café, roof terrace, and other comfortable community spaces welcome visitors and promote interactions among faculty, staff, students, and visitors. An enlarged, climate-controlled Design Gallery and Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection enhance the visibility of creative works from both students and professional artists.

Support Us

All Design Gallery events and exhibitions are free and open to the public, thanks in part to the generous support from the Anonymous Fund. Support our programming through a gift to the University of Wisconsin Foundation.

More questions?

Please call 608-262-1162. You can also email Design Gallery. For the most up to date information, like us on Facebook.