Millennium Development Goals: A Fabric Study

African Prints occupy a significant space within West African culture and are usually created industrially using the batik printing process. These textiles are part of a non-verbal way of communication particularly among African women. In a sense they carry messages into the world depending on what images are printed onto the cloth.

In Ghana, appearance and dress are very important social, cultural and class factors. It is also very common to have outfits custom-made for occasions that are typically considered to be significant milestones in an individual’s life. Such occasions include naming ceremonies (after a child has been born), birthdays, traditional engagements, weddings and funerals. A major factor of creating the perfect garment is choosing the right cloth. A lot of thought, and depending on class, a lot of money goes into purchasing what is considered to be the right cloth. 

Following the premise that the customer has autonomy over what sort of fabric they choose, the customer has control over whatever message they would like to communicate to the rest of the world. Their bodies become sites of representation and communication, and by wearing the textile each individual can express themselves and their message.

The Millennium Development Goals, which are expected to be reached by next year, 2015, are eight international development goals established by the United Nations for developing countries, which Ghana happens to be a member of. These goals were created with the aim of improving the living standards of people within these countries. Though considered to have one of the largest economies in Africa and one fastest growing economies in the world, Ghana’s progress, in terms reaching some of these goals to improve her development as a nation, has not been fully realized.

My interest in the overall development of my home country coupled with my fascination with textiles is what pushed me to incorporate these two important aspects of Ghana. By combining these two ideas; the significance of textiles and the race to improve development, this exhibition is a showcase of MDG-inspired fabrics to speak to and remind ourselves of this approaching deadline.

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