Typical Arabian Bedouin face mask from western Saudi Arabia
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Lois Draper has been intrigued with textiles, dress design, and construction since her paper-doll stage in her early childhood. A native of California, Draper got her start teaching art at the Boys Club in San Diego. She also worked in a fabric store while pursuing a teaching credential in art education at San Diego State University. When the May Company department store opened its first store in San Diego, Draper jumped at the opportunity to be the assistant fashion coordinator.
In 1975, Draper, her husband, and their four children moved to Jiddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to teach in the Parents Cooperative School. What began as a two-year contract turned into a 13-year adventure. On one of her many forays up the dirt path to the Old Jiddah Souq, hunting for Bedouin silver jewelry, Draper found a traditional Bedouin dress hanging on a hook in the back of a small shop. She found its construction, embroidery, appliquéd fabric, and ingenuity of decorating to be captivating. She bargained for the handmade dress and thus started her collection of traditional Bedouin garments, masks, and headpieces. This illustrated lecture and mini-exhibition will focus on the Bedouin garments no longer worn by women of the desert.
After returning to the United States, Draper served on the education staff of the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. In 1996 another opportunity took her to Yemen to teach once again, which allowed her to continue to acquire additional traditional pieces. Today, Lois Draper volunteers at the Mingei Folk Museum in Balboa Park and is a curator for the Valley Art Center in Rancho Bernardo, California.