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Beautiful connections: Maridadi Fabrics, Jack Lenor Larsen, and the East African Kanga




Logan, Trisha Green, author
Sanders, Eulanda A., advisor
Carlson, Linda, advisor
Coronel, Patricia, committee member

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This research examined the Maridadi textile collection housed in the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection in the Department of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University (CSU). The researcher hoped to develop a new understanding of Maridadi textile designs utilizing Stuart Smith's "Material History Methodology" (1985), Ann Marie Fiore and Patricia Anne Kimle's Understanding Aesthetics for the Design and Merchandising Professional (1997), and Marilyn Revell Delong's The Way We Look (1987). The textile designs were placed within the context of both design cultures from which they stem, those of Kenya and the U.S. Specific design elements such as the binary themes (DeLong, 1998) of figure-ground integrated/figure-ground separated, and determinate/ indeterminate were analyzed. Design elements also considered include mono-chromatic and chromatic colors as well as organic and geometric shapes (Fiore and Kimle, 1997). The designs were also examined by looking closely at their Material, Construction, Provenance, Function, and Value (Smith, 1985). By comparing the textile designs of the Larsen Design Studio and the kanga designs of Kenya in the late 1960s the research addressed the issue of the social time in which the Maridadi textiles were produced. A random sample of thirty-four Maridadi textiles, eleven kanga, and seventeen images of the Larsen Design Studio textiles was used in the research. The content analysis method was used in the examination of the Maridadi textiles. Three trained coders (researcher, one professor, and a graduate student) identified where on a continuum a textile artifact lands between the binary themes from DeLong (1998) and Fiore and Kimle (1997). The Smith (1985) model for studying material culture was also be used to analyze the Maridadi textiles. The traditional Kenyan textile, the kanga, and the textile designs of the Larsen Design Studio were used as comparative data. The researcher identified where each of the thirty-four textile samples landed on the continuum between the binary themes. The number of times that each continuum between the themes was landed on was calculated. After all thirty-four textile samples were analyzed by all three coders using the Smith (1985) model and compared with the textiles of the Larsen Design Studio, and the traditional textile, the kanga, by the researcher only, the information was carefully scrutinized. Themes such as specific materials, color palettes, and construction methods, were extracted from the information and grouped and restructured.


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Larsen, Jack Lenor
Textile fabrics -- Kenya


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