New exhibits opening at WheatonArts, Winterthur put focus on the past

By Gloucester County Times

March 26, 2010, 3:11PM
ApsaraCrown.jpg By Kristie Rearick

Works from Cambodian master artist Chamroeun Yin will be on display through Oct. 20 at the WheatonArts Down Jersey Folklife Center in Millville. The artist, who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years, will showcase costumes, accessories and masks in the exhibition, “Cambodian Traditions: Weddings and Court Dances.”

“Yin is a dancer, traditional costume maker, mask maker and a teacher in Cambodian crafts and court dances,” said Iveta Pirgova, Down Jersey Folklife Center director and curator of this exhibition. “All of the items on display are made by him.”

The exhibit puts Khmer classical dance in the spotlight, she said, an art form that was oppressed by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

An Aspara Crown, used in Khmer classical court dance, is shown above. At right, below, Cambodian master artist Chamroeun Yin wears an intricate dance costume.“It’s a tradition that goes back more than a thousand years to the Khmer empire. During this time the king created the Royal Ballet as an intermediary between the monarchy and spiritual realm,” Pirgova said.There is a lot of symbolism involved in the dance. Its graceful gestures and beautiful costumes represent the Khmer culture, Pirgova said.

“The dance conveys sacred, social and aesthetic messages through movement, rhythm, gestures, poses and elaborate costumes,” she said.

Yin came to America as a refugee as part of the Khmer Classical Dance Troupe which toured the country in the early ’80s. Today, he lives in Philadelphia where he works as an artist in several media. He makes traditional wedding costumes, male and female dance costumes and teaches Khmer court dance and mask-making to young people.

His goal is to keep these Khmer traditions alive.

The Cambodian wedding, one of these traditions, takes at least two nights, Pirgova said. Ceremonies begin on Friday afternoon and end on Saturday evening with a reception. The costumes worn by the bride and groom change from ceremony to ceremony.

“They know very well which costume is appropriate for each part of the wedding ceremony,” she said. “Visitors to the exhibit will see different costumes for the wedding reception, sashes with intricate beadwork on golden lamé, hair pieces and other accessories.”

Family workshops are planned to coincide with the exhibit.

ChamroeunYinBoungSoungDance.jpgView full sizeIn “Cambodian Beadwork on Fabric,” offered April 25, visitors will learn to create flower and diamond designs with gold glass beads and sequins and place them on a small purse; participants can learn the basics of the “Cambodian Court Dance” at a workshop planned for Sept. 19; and a performance demonstration of the court dances by the artist will be held during the Festival of Fine Craft at WheatonArts on Oct. 3.

If you go:
“Cambodian Traditions: Weddings and Court Dances” comes to the Down Jersey Folklife Center at WheatonArts at 1501 Glasstown Road in Millville from Wednesday, April 1 through Oct. 20. WheatonArts is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., April through December. The exhibit is included in the price of admission. Adults, $10; seniors and students, $7, children 5 and under are free. For more information call (856) 825-6800, (800) 998-4552 or visit


By Victoria Williams

With all of their charm and beautifully scaled landscapes, the public gardens of the Brandywine Valley, including Longwood, Mount Cuba, Nemours and Winterthur, not only convey the history of the region, but preserve the horticulture legacy of one of the most influential families of the 20th century — the du Ponts.

If you thought you knew all there was to know about them, guess again. But not to worry, all will be revealed on Saturday, with the opening of a new exhibition at Winterthur Museum & Country Estate in Winterthur, Del.

The exhibition, entitled “Lost Gardens of the Brandywine,” is an outgrowth of “The du Ponts: Houses and Gardens in the Brandywine,” a book written by the exhibition’s curator, Maggie Lidz.
LostGardens.jpgView full size‘Lost Gardens of the Brandywine’ features gardens at the Winterthur Museum & Country Estate in Winterthur, Del.
Published by Acanthus Press in the fall of 2009, “the book started out just looking at the houses of the du Ponts. It was an architectural publication, but as I did my research, my awareness of the importance of the gardens increased,” Lidz said in a telephone interview.

With the support of her institution, as well as assistance from sister institutions such as the Hagley Museum and Library, Longwood Gardens and Nemours Mansion and Gardens, Lidz set out to expand it outside of the du Ponts, she said.

The exhibition, which runs through July 25, focuses on the years prior to World War II, a time when horticulture was immensely popular.

“That popularity was because it was considered a civilized art form. It was considered a way that America would be equal to Europe in all ways,” Lidz said.

A collaboration between Winterthur and its sister institutions, the exhibition features a combination of artifacts that highlight not only the gardens of the 1920s and ’30s, but also the contributions made by the du Pont family, including photos of family life in the gardens never before seen in a public capacity.

Despite the assistance provided by Winterthur sister institutions, the exhibition would not have been possible, if not for one person.

“Lonnie Dobbs.”

Dobbs, who has two decades of volunteer service at Winterthur under her belt, and serves as flower arranger and volunteer in the registrar’s office, “has made the garden furniture her special project and without her help we never would have been able to do the exhibition. She’s actually quite professional in what she does,” said Lidz.

“When people come to this exhibition they’ll see beautiful photographs of the gardens and they’ll learn a little about garden history. They’ll also be able to see a lot of antique garden ornaments and furniture,” Lidz said.

Contributions provided by the other institutions range from a sundial and antique garden ornaments to photography.

Also present are Italian influences.

“We talked to a lot of the families of people that were gardeners in the 1920s” and “tried to incorporate their stories as well.” Lidz said. “We did incorporate the Italian influence in the gardens through the gardeners.”

The focal point of the exhibition, however, will be a 7-by-5-foot auricula theater — a traditional display of botanical specimens on tiered shelves — filled with plants.

“At the end of the exhibition, there’s an area where you can sit on antique garden benches and there will be a constant projection of 60 color 1920s slides,” Lidz said.

“Lost Gardens of the Brandywine” is on view beginning Saturday, March 27, at Winterthur Museum and Country Estates located on Route 52 at 5105 Kennett Pike in Winterthur, Del. The exhibition runs through July 25. For more information, visit or call (302) 888-4600.
On June 13, anyone who has a ticket from the Italian Festival in Wilmington, Del., will be eligible to receive a $5 discount on admission to the exhibition and gardens.

There are also a host of related programs, including guided exhibition walks, lunchtime lecture series and proud to be an Italian Day, set to run on select dates through the exhibition’s closing date.

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