Pattern within pattern: I think that's how I would sum up Lee Jofa's African-inspired, heavy-duty cotton-linen upholstery fabric, Hakan. Pictured here in indigo, it reads a bit like a stripe but each stripe is composed of geometrics and some of these angular shapes are composed of dots that, for me, suggest traditional African beadwork. The dots and spots also make me think of an animal print.
But apparently in the design of this 20th-century cloth from the Republic of Cameroon, it's the triangular patterns (more pattern within pattern) that likely relate to a leopard's coat. The resist-dyed indigo prestige piece is part of the extensive African Art collection at the Birmingham Museum of Art. If you visit this summer, you'll find a freshly renovated African Gallery housing not only the BMA's permanent treasures but also some special loans -- Moroccan jewelry and East African beadwork, for example.
[Susan Taylor as Model (detail) by Ken Ramsay, via VMFA]
BTW, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (a Blue Star Museum offering free summer admission to military families) currently has on view two exhibitions that explore African and African-American style and art: Posing Beauty and States of Change in Africa.