Arts & Culture

'Party in the 21st Century' exhibit puts Slovak folk traditions in spotlight

This headdress is from the village of Liptovska Teplicka in Slovakia, shown with a rose motif. A rosette on the front of
This headdress is from the village of Liptovska Teplicka in Slovakia, shown with a rose motif. A rosette on the front of the headband was sewn with a small amount of money to bring wealth to the bride, along with sewn on glass pearls and spangles. (Party in the 21st Century)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — An old tradition from Slovakia has new life in an art exhibit on display at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library now through April 19.

“Party in the 21st Century” centers on the “parta,” or “party” in plural form, a decorative headband Slovak brides often wore at their weddings. Each region of Slovakia had its own distinctive designs for the parta, but the tradition has mostly faded away at modern weddings.

Now, a group of Slovakian artists has brought the parta back to life with brightly colored paintings and photos showcasing the headband’s beauty and unique patterns and styles from different villages.

“Mainly their goal was to take these traditional Slovak headdresses and re-imagine them in an artistic way,” said museum curator Stefanie Kohn. “There is a traditional way to wear these headdresses; this is more of an artistic exploration.”

In each photo, a different model wears the elaborate headdresses, which are often covered in intricate embroidery or beadwork, along with ribbons, lace and flowers. The models also show off striking face paint and costumes and sit in front of individually painted backdrops that display motifs found in Slovak folk art.

Slovak photographers Zuzana Sénášiová and Lubomír Sabo worked with painters Sarah I. Avni and Ivana Mintalova, face painters Andrea Lubocka and Patrik Raga and ethnologist Katarína Chabreceková on the project.

The photographs hang in the hall on the way to the museum’s main exhibit areas, along with a map showing the region each painting is based on. The artists worked with ethnographers like Chabrecekova very deliberately, to tie the headdress, face paint designs and background paintings together based on the folk traditions of those regions.

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Around the corner in the lobby is a display of Slovak wedding headdresses from the museum’s permanent collection.

“The headdresses themselves are very traditional and are often very old,” Kohn said. “Some of the headdresses we have in our collection are from the same areas as those in the photographs.”

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