"Twins", a work I made in the mid 1990s, of mixed and found media, about 13"H x 20"W.
Adinkra cloth made between 1930 and 1950 offered for sale online.
Contemporary silkscreened adinkra cloth showing a much more graphic composition and some of the new symbols.
Meaning in Anatsui's Work
Anatsui's work, as you will read and hear if you go to the Fowler Museum site, has many complicated meanings for him that refer to the trashing and recycling of materials - many of the materials having to do with food and drink - and to the effects of "globalization, consumerism, waste and the transience of people's lives in West Africa and beyond."
Perhaps the most well-known African woven cloth is kente, which is woven (by men) on narrow horiontal treadle looms by the Asante people of Ghana and the Ewe people of Ghana and Togo. Strips of the cloth are sewn together to make a wider fabric. Anatsui's father and brothers wove kente in more muted colors used by the Ewe peoples, and this apparently influenced his creation of the metallic cloths that seem to be woven from the castoff aluminum wrappings he uses.
Anatsui is quoted as saying, "I have discovered only much later . . . that cloth has been a recurring theme or leitmotif, and it is featured in so many dimensions."
Example of kente cloth
You see that Anatsui and I have the realization of cloth's importance in common. I think the reason that it takes so long to come to this awareness is that cloth is so ubiquitous. Its importance doesn't quite dawn on us when its use is not addressed directly as in sewing, weaving, dyeing, etc. In my own case, I did quite a bit of resist dyeing at Mass. College of Art so I don't have this excuse, but it has taken me all this time to make the extension of thought and finally utter the DUH, or is it D'OH.