Traje Wearable Art Exhibit

The LSU Textile & Costume Museum’s current exhibit, the Traje Wearable Article Exhibit, is focused on Mayan textiles and features about 200 pieces. Most of the pieces were purchased in Guatemala and features a lot of intricate embroidered pieces.

A University of South Florida professor had an interest in Mayan textiles and took many trips to Central America and Guatemala to gather this collection of clothing. She observed women were no longer weaving clothing the same way there, so she thought bringing the clothes to the museum would be a good way of documenting this particular style of clothing.

The collection is subdivided by the huipils, traditional garments worn in Central America, and by area. You can see the uniqueness of a village in each garment, which prompted her to also study Mayan symbols and track where each garment was woven.
“In the old gallery space is where my exhibit is, and my exhibit is kind of a secondary exhibit and what it is Mayan inspired wearable art pieces. So, they are interpretations of the traditions from Mayan culture by various designers around the country and Canada,” Textiles, Apparel Design & Merchandising professor Casey Stannard said.
Stannard recruited people through her professional societies The International Textile and Apparel Association as well as the Costume Society of America to put the exhibit together.
An embroidered mask, hand woven dress, and digital textile printed garment are just some of the items Stannard highlighted when talking about the exhibit.
Emily Oertling, a Ph.D. candidate in Fashion Studies at Kansas State University created Na chajiij. With COVID-19 impacting her traveling plans, health, and source of inspiration, she ended up creating an embroidered mask. The heritage and influence of the Mayans are shown on the mask, as well as iconography from the Mayan calender. “This symbol was used to represent the pandemic's longevity and the lasting effects on this area, which thrives on tourism,” Oertling says in her garment notes.

Naming her dress “White Flower,” assistant professor in Textiles, Apparel, and Merchandising at Indiana State University Joyce Robinson, designed Sacniete, a hand-woven dress featured in the collection. “The inspiration for this piece was to create a dress design using minimal seams and to hand weave the fabric with the color stripes predetermined with bold stripes reminiscent of Mayan designs,” Robinson stated in her garment notes.

The “Maya-inspired Optical Art” printed piece was designed by Anne Bissonnette, associate professor of Material Culture and Curatorship at the University of Alberta. She was inspired by a huipil in the textile museum. When discussing the dress professor Stannard described it as still having a “Mayan root to it, but in a very ‘60s mod kind of way which I think is a different interpretation.”
You can see these pieces and many more on display in the museum exhibit’s showcased until May 2021.