Opening this past week at Washington State University's Museum of Anthropology, Hawaii’s Alfred Shaheen: Fabric to Fashion is a must-see glimpse at the work of one of America's greatest textile designers and innovators.

A few of the stunning bold flower and leaf prints on display

The exhibit was curated by Linda Arthur Bradley, a scholar of Hawaiian textiles and professor in WSU's Apparel Merchandising, Design and Textiles Department, co-curated by Mary Collins of WSU's Anthropology Department, and Deborah Corsini of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. A very interesting and informative booklet accompanies the exhibit.

On display are a number of items collected by Shaheen's daughter, Camille Shaheen-Tunberg, and it was my great privilege to have the chance to meet her and her husband, the artist and sculptor Bill Tunberg, at the opening of the exhibit. I have heard that Alfred Shaheen was a warm and gracious person, and this family trait has certainly been passed on.

It was a treat to hear details of the couple's projects, information about the items on display, and small anecdotes about Alfred Shaheen and his work that I probably would never hear anywhere else. One example: Although you can't see it in my photo (it was a cold day and I needed to wear a coat), I was wearing a 1960s Shaheen dress with a fan, lace and instrument print. Camille said that her father sometimes mixed screen prints, and that this dress displays one of those mixtures. I'm so glad I chose to wear this one, and find out about its origin!

Me, trying to capture some of the sights

One group of Aloha shirts, each one a wearable work of art

An array of prints, and covetable garment construction

I love this octopus and fish print! The shirt is on display along with a matching two-piece swim/play suit

Indian influence by way of a paisley border print

By Bill Tunberg, detail of an impressive portrait of an impressive creator

The exhibit is open 10-4 through May 3, and then through June 30 (while WSU is between terms) by appointment. It is free and open to the public. For more information and photos, see the WSU Today press release.

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