Let's get started.
Let's be honest here. The world does not need another blog. There are plenty of amazing ones out there. There are already plenty of lifestyle brands advocating for you to "slow down," and we all know that the privilege implied by that, and that the feasibility of that act being done by the average person is slim. But what I think the world can never have too much of is spaces to share thoughts, inspirations, challenges and examinations. This seems increasingly important in current times. And that's what I plan to use this space as. Features on artists and thinkers who inspire me, tutorials on dye processes, interviews with friends who I think are using their talents and energies to benefit those around them. Examinations on historic textile practices in the South and how they're being reinterpreted, while always honoring the people who laid the foundation for these practices. I also plan to use this as a space to hold myself accountable for the things I create and the processes I use to create them.
So let's get started with a little bit on how I even got here.
The jump to working with textiles and natural dye isn't exactly a straight line for me, but it is a slow, deliberate path that makes sense with my personal trajectory, if you look at certain points along the way. My mother is a hugely talented seamstress, sewist and quilter. I grew up in Alabama, fully absorbing the rural artists of the region and went on to work at the Kentuck Museum Association, where I was able to seek out and advocate for self-taught and outsider artists who used available materials to fashion a unique lens for audiences to view the region through.
The huge shift happened for me during my stint at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment in Huntsville, AL. Lowe Mill is the largest privately funded arts center in the US, housed in a historic textile mill. It was there that I first experienced having my own dedicated studio space. It always looked as if a bomb had just gone off in the room, but I adored it, and it caused a huge shift in my mind, and marked a return to developing my own personal art practice. My job within the facility was Gallery Coordinator and Curator, which mostly entailed curating, installing and organizing exhibitions in the six galleries. Marcia Freeland, the visionary Executive Director of Lowe Mill and one of the most humble arts heroes of the state of Alabama, encouraged me to begin booking instructional workshops in the galleries that corresponded to the work on display. This essentially led me to booking a series of workshops that were selfishly a personal curriculum of things I wanted to learn. This is when I first encountered indigo dyeing and shibori.
The incredible Nadene Mairesse, who runs the design company and workshop studio Idyllwilde in Florence, AL, taught a masterful Indigo workshop at Lowe Mill that I consider to be a life-changing experience. Nadene and I have gone on to become great friends, and she is someone that I consider a mentor and huge inspiration. Through the workshop, I learned the incredible power of communal dye vats, and the ability those magical pots have to bring people together, spark conversation and make people slow down. Everything Nadene creates is imbued with that attitude. Since that workshop, I've made countless dips into my trusty orange bucket (AKA my indigo dye vat), and watched a lot of friends and strangers learn to make those dips as well. Something about watching your fabric gradually turn from a neon green to a beautiful indigo blue makes full grown adults revert back to giddy children. It's a great thing to watch.
There are plenty of incredible textile brands in existence, and plenty of natural dyers. There are plenty of blogs. I don't intend to reinvent that wheel. What I do intend to do is share what I've learned with other people, and hope that they'll share it with other people, and that what starts with one dye vat can spread to impact whole communities of people in a positive way.
I hope you'll tag along for the ride.