A collaboration between textile artist Rowland Ricketts and sound artist Norbert Herber, this installation leads visitors through the process of making indigo, a dye historically derived from a variety of plants including Polygonum tinctorum (also known as “dyer’s knotweed”).
Sponsored in part by the Frances P. Rohlen Visiting Artists Fund/College of Fine and Applied Arts and Krannert Art Museum
Indigo-dyed cloth was highly sought after for centuries around the globe and has long been identified with Japan, where Ricketts trained in the dyers’ shops of Tokushima. In his work, Ricketts focuses on the corporeal aspects of the dye’s production; color is imbued with the memory of movement. Thus, through sound and video collage, the movements of visitors in the gallery illuminate how indigo is grown, composted, decomposed, and concocted into a pungent dye. As visitors tread on the indigo, separating leaf from stem, they take part in the winnowing that initiates the plant’s decomposition.
The sounds emanating from the gallery were collected at various sites, threading connections among them: Illinois’ Sustainable Student Farm, where the indigo was grown and harvested; Ricketts’s farm-studio in Bloomington, Indiana; and the fields and dyers’ shops in Tokushima, where Ricketts was supervising part of the 2012 National Cultural Festival in celebration of indigo and helping reinvent a craft largely abandoned. The installation embodies transformation: a sensuous domain, displaced from a tilled field and juxtaposed with the deep surfaces of dyed cloth, which embodies both a history of work and the generative force of seed.
September 23, 2012
Installation Performance, a live sound score from live audio feeds from Japan and other remote locations, as dancers moved through the installation interacting with the drying indigo leaves, marking their progress of decay and transformation, created by Installation Sound artist Norbert Herber, from Indiana. Sponsored in part by IJPAN and Krannert Art Museum
Artist Talk and Gallery Conversation, “Indigo: From Seed to Dye,” with exhibiting artist Rowland Ricketts followed by a dialogue with Anne Burkus-Chasson, guest curator and associate professor of Art History; Gillen D’Arcy Wood, director of Sustainability Studies Initiative in the Humanities and professor of English; Sarah Taylor Lovell, assistant professor of Sustainable Landscape Design; and Gregory Levine, associate professor of Japanese Art, University of California at Berkeley. Sponsored by the Frances P. Rohlen Visiting Artists Fund/College of Fine and Applied Arts
Guest Curator: Anne Burkus-Chasson