Reaching to the core of what inspire's a person and connecting with the foundation roots can be a turning point at any time in a life. Working with indigo and connecting to the history of an American crop that had a global reach has inspired my art and writing on art and agriculture topics.
I have had the wonderful opportunities to work with excellent educators at different levels, all kinds of makers, tinkerers, explorers, creators and farmers, many quilters and textile artists over the past few years.
I must share that my most soul connecting uplift moment was at the Urban Ministry Center in Charlotte, NC in October. I scheduled to visit their Artworks 945 program. www.urbanministrycenter.org. Artists in the program explored topics about "coming to the table, what foods are on their tables, who is at the table and how big of a napkin would be a good size when eating a plate full of your favorite foods?".
Napkins were cut from various upcycled fabrics from the Goodwill Store. Some of the artists made several sets of napkins, some just explored the dyeing process or created themselves a scarf to wear. Collaboratively the group of artists worked together to create over 100 pieces of indigo dyed works. The enthusiasm and care towards the integrity of design for each piece was a miracle in action. These artists were experiencing for the first time what an art and agriculture project was, plant based dyeing, history of an American crop, textile design and production. The energy was up and each of the artists were complimenting the other on their creations.
One of the artists was so inspired by an image he saw in Indigo: The Colour that Changed the World by Catherine Legrand. The image was of an African wedding apron. The artist asked if he could make an apron. Of course, my answer was "yes". This man meticulliously, using fabric scissors and pinking shears, cut from washed raw canvas an entire no sew apron with fringed edges. His design even included a scalloped hemline that he cut with pinking shears. I was so very impressed. He was thrilled with the results after dyeing his apron in the indigo vat. He made two aprons total and each has two hand towels that go with it. Wow! These pieces will be for sale at the Heirloom Restaurant during our dyeing workshop before the Indigo Artisan Dinner on November 29, 2015. Details are found under our events section. The monies will be returned to the Artworks 945 program for the artists to continue their magic.
I will return to the art program and happily have started working with the Gardenworks 945 to assist with the development of a plant dye garden in the Urban Ministry Center's Community Garden.
Grace is what I hope to keep during these incredible experiences. I am grateful for where my work has lead me and agriculture keeps me grounded. Agriculture research is how I connected with indigo. I have met many incredible people since the research began from universities, farmers in the fields, artists, educators and museum curators.
It has been 30 years, since I worked as a Community Organizer in North Carolina organizing small family farmers to use best practices for marketing their bounty. In 2013, revisiting farms in North Carolina validated future plans to work on a body of art work for exhibition that connected art and agriculture. The project is wrapping up and the first exhibit is scheduled for the Fine Arts Center's North Corridor Gallery at Salem College, Winston-Salem, NC. The exhibit runs October through December 2016.
The website gallery has been updated with images of several inspiring events from this fall that have been scheduled throughout the New South. We have been so honored by the support of those who have welcomed us to their business, museum or school. We look forward to future workshops and hoping to spread some inspiration.
Below are images from a morning at Artworks 945 with talented artists and the "happy apron maker".