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Stories Behind Pennsylvania Dutch and African Artisanal Objects in the Miller Collection

A Tale of Two Cultures

2 circular objects from 2 different cultures

EXHIBITION: “A Tale of Two Cultures: Stories Behind Pennsylvania Dutch and African Artisanal Objects in the Miller Collection”

GALLERY: MiraCosta College Library, second floor, Oceanside Campus

DATES: October 3, 2022 to November 1, 2022

CURATORIAL COLLECTIVE: Piper Bailey, Sara Funk, Karina Martos

Objects created by African and Pennsylvania Dutch peoples.

Objects provided by Professor Sheryl Miller

Exhibit Photos

About this Exhibit

This exhibition is supported in part by the Hatoff Tapestries Grant funded by Julie and Dave Hatoff, and awarded by the MiraCosta College Foundation.

Sharing unique stories in this exhibition, objects from two cultures from vastly different parts of the world are placed side by side to accentuate their similar and differing cultural values. The Pennsylvania Dutch and African artisanal objects reflect narratives of cultures and traditions that rely on natural resources and adaptability to ensure humanity's advancement. Pieces from both collections represent similar values and beliefs through their motifs.

Professor Sheryl Miller and her daughter Professor Lynne Miller, both anthropology professors, have accumulated a collection of cultural pieces from the Pennsylvania Dutch and African peoples. The Pennsylvania Dutch objects were collected personally by Professor Sheryl Miller during her travels to the Pennsylvania Dutch community. Late friends of Professor Sheryl Miller ethically purchased pieces during a missionary trip in Africa.

MiraCosta’s curatorial collective has selected objects from both collections to articulate both cultures' values respectfully. Objects from the African collection showcase how the indigenous cultures relied on natural resources and materials sourced from animals. Objects include beaded jewelry, a tortoiseshell hair comb, and cuff bracelets that showcase these cultures’ motifs and demonstrate their craftsmanship. These handcrafted objects were created for purchase by tourists to aid their cultures’ transition into a cash economy. The Pennsylvanian Dutch Collection objects aim to honor the work of Amish and Mennonite peoples. The collection includes a hetchel for combing flax into linen, a series of unique cooking tools, and an assortment of hand-crafted cookie cutters. The cultural rejection of modern technology is richly present in these objects and should be examined with such lenses. The practical uses of both collections’ pieces provide an insight into the peoples’ traditions and reflect their values of functionality and traditions. When placed side by side, the materials and the practices used in both cultures start a conversation about humanity’s ability to weave motifs of family, love, and survival into everyday objects.

This exhibition will open Monday, October 3rd, and will remain until November 1st. It will be held at the MiraCosta College Library on the Oceanside Campus.

Location: MiraCosta Oceanside Campus, 1200 building Address: 1 Barnard Drive Oceanside, CA 92056
Gallery Hours: Monday through Thursday | 8:00 pm-6:00 pm; Friday | 10 am- 2pm