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Invitation to a Wedding: Ukrainian Wedding Textiles and Traditions
December 5, 2011 ‒ January 11, 2012 (EXTENDED)

Ancient Rituals, Modern Interpretations
Presented in Lavish Exhibition at Ukrainian Museum


The ancient rituals associated with traditional Ukrainian weddings, and their unique interpretation in today's "traditional" weddings, are presented in this expansive exhibition at The Ukrainian Museum in New York, which opened on December 5, 2010.

Invitation to a Wedding: Ukrainian Wedding Textiles and Traditions describes the various components of the traditional Ukrainian wedding – an event known for its rich symbolism and extensive use of opulently hand-embroidered fabrics – and shows how they have been adapted to contemporary weddings, both in Ukraine and in the United States. Visitors are invited to explore the progression of a traditional Ukrainian wedding, a multi-stage "event" that begins with the matchmaking process, continues with the betrothal and blessing, and ultimately concludes with the ceremony and reception. The prescribed rituals associated with each stage come to life through the more than 150 items on exhibition, including:

  • An extensive selection of ritual cloths (rushnyk), described by exhibition curator Lubow Wolynetz as the "common thread in the road of life." A rushnyk is embroidered when a child is born, and one is used at every milestone in a person's life, most notably at the time of marriage.
  • Embroidered shirts, both men's and women's, representing many regions of Ukraine, each with distinct coloration and symbolic motifs.
  • Elaborate headdresses, made of fabrics, flowers, feathers, ribbons, coins – the precursor of today's tiara and veil.
  • A total of 24 complete, traditional wedding outfits, outstanding in their level of detail and craftsmanship, and striking in their design.
  • Several traditional Ukrainian wedding breads (korovai), from various regions of Ukraine – a staple at every traditional Ukrainian wedding. This display is supplemented by a video demonstration of the art of baking and decorating a korovai.

    The exhibition concludes with a display of contemporary Ukrainian wedding finery, with many elements, motifs, and techniques that hark back to the traditions of the past.

    The items on exhibit are drawn primarily from the Museum's own collection of folk art – one of the most important collections outside Ukraine – with the addition of a number of exquisite pieces from public and private collections in Ukraine and the U.S.

    An accompanying exhibit of Wedding Embroidery from Eastern Podillia, from the private collection of Tetiana and Evhen Prychepii of Kyiv, showcases a unique form of Ukrainian folk art that has preserved the most archaic symbolic ornamental motifs. Wedding Embroidery from Eastern Podillia will be on view through October 2 (EXTENDED).

    Lubow Wolynetz, the curator of the exhibition and of the Museum's folk art collection, is an educator, researcher, and embroiderer, well-known for her devotion to, and passion for, Ukrainian folk art.

    Major funding both for planning and implementation of this exhibition was provided by The Coby Foundation, Ltd.

    Funding was also provided in part by the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; Peter & Doris Kule Centre for Ukrainian & Canadian Folklore; Self Reliance (NY) Federal Credit Union; and individual sponsors.

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    The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, color catalogue, available from the Museum gift shop.

    About the Museum
    The Ukrainian Museum was founded in 1976 by the Ukrainian National Women's League of America as a showcase for Ukrainian culture. Since its founding, the Museum has amassed extensive collections of folk art, fine art, and archival material. It mounts several exhibitions annually; publishes accompanying bilingual catalogues; organizes courses, workshops, and other educational programs; and hosts a variety of public events. In April 2005 the Museum moved into a new, state-of-the-art facility in New York's East Village, funded entirely by the Ukrainian American community.



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