African Drum and Dance, Kanga Cloth History on Tap from Funk Center

Events Held in Conjunction
with ‘Wandering Spirit’ Exhibition

MELBOURNE, FLA. — The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts will host an African drumming and dance workshop on Oct. 19 and a Friends of Textiles Lecture Series presentation on the history of kanga cloth Nov. 6 as the Florida Tech museum offers two events in conjunction with its current exhibition, Wandering Spirit: African Wax Prints.

The Ruth Funk Center on the Florida Tech campus will open its doors at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, for the 7 p.m. drum and dance workshop presented by the cultural organization Open Circle.

Participants will begin with an introduction to the traditional West African drum and instruction in the basic patterns for each drum in the djembe orchestra. After a brief intermission, participants will then learn about the origin and purpose of traditional West African dance, followed by a warm-up and practice of steps.  Guests are encouraged to join both portions of the workshop; all materials will be provided.

Open Circle will offer drums, lappas (wrap skirts), and other cultural items for purchase in the mezzanine during the workshop.

Created in 2015, Open Circle’s purpose is the introduction and exchange of traditions and ideas meant to “re-connect” members of the African diaspora. Its mission is achieved through study, research, instructor and artist invitation, workshops, projects and performance.  The group has participated in a number of events in Brevard County, including Black History Month at Eastern Florida State College, the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Memorial 5K, and the Jack & Jill Super Cluster.

The cost for the evening event is $15 for the general public and $10 for Friends of Textiles members and Florida Tech students, faculty and staff with Florida Tech ID.  Reservations may be made here. Availability is limited. For additional information, call the Ruth Funk Center at 321-674-6129.


On Nov. 6, the Ruth Funk Center will present the final fall Friends of Textiles Lecture Series event. MacKenzie Moon Ryan will offer, “A Brief History of Kanga Cloth, East Africa’s Printed Textile” starting at 6 p.m. in the Denius Student Center’s second-floor Hartley Room on the Florida Tech campus. The lecture will be preceded by a reception at 5:15 p.m.

Ryan is an assistant professor of art history at Rollins College in Winter Park. She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Florida and has twice studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies at University of London.

Ryan’s research focuses on global networks of trade, African textiles and fashion – in particular kanga cloth – and the consumption of commodities. She has published articles and essays on the history of kanga cloth and serves as an editor of the scholarly journal, African Arts.

She teaches a range of courses in art history, including courses on African art, global art, the history of fashion, and museum studies. Ryan is particularly interested in textiles, fashion, trade, colonialism, cross-cultural exchange, and the collection and display of artworks.

The cost for the evening lecture is $10 per person for the general public and free for Friends of Textiles members and Florida Tech students, faculty and staff with Florida Tech ID. Reservations are not necessary and tickets may be purchased at the door. Guests may call 321-674-6129 or email for more information.


MacKenzie Moon Ryan
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