Exhibitions and Events

Past Events and Exhibitions

In May 2019, MICA students and community collaborators mounted the exhibition Living Color: Touching the Past, Present and Future through the Art of Natural Dyes at the Bearman Gallery at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum in Baltimore. The exhibit  was developed and curated collaboratively by students and community members in a class at MICA called "Natural Dye as Intercultural Connector." The exhibition presented research and artistic responses to questions that motivated our work this semester, including:

  • What are the traditional natural dye practices of various parts of the world?

  • What does it mean to dye with plants that have held a spiritual, medicinal role in indigenous communities from Asia to West Africa to the Americas?

  • How do we honor these origins and acknowledge the harm that resulted from these dye materials having been commodified and the keepers of this plant wisdom having been colonized or enslaved?

  • How can the growing and use of these plants heal our relationships with the earth and with each other?

  • How can learning about the histories of natural dyes support cultural exchange and understanding?

  • What might a natural dye resurgence in this region look like?

 Living Color coalesced around student interest in three main themes: the potential for natural dye practices in our bioregion, global traditions of indigo, and creating an altar to honor the earth and our ancestors. Students worked collaboratively in small groups on each section of the exhibition. The reuse and upcycling of materials guided our process, as did collective decision-making and consent.

The exhibition and the class are part of the Baltimore Natural Dye Initiative, which grew out of a 2017 visit by Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan to the Natural Dyeing Cultural Center in Naju, South Korea. Funded by the Maryland Department of Commerce, through the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the Baltimore Natural Dye Initiative is a public-private partnership that includes MICA, the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation, and Baltimore Development Corporation. Additional support for the exhibition comes from the Living Classrooms Foundation.



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