We want to stay connected and creative with our community during these unprecedented times.
Our first opportunity we are sharing is our Virtual Pop-Up. For the next few weeks, arts instructor Elisabeth Herrera is sharing virtual activities to keep you inspired. Follow along with each activity and share your creations with us on Instagram (@atlantacontemporary) with the hashtag #ACMAKES
We look forward to seeing everyone’s creations and continuing the excellent conversations we usually have in person in a digital space.
Foraged Natural Dye
Looking forward, looking back.
Contemporary artists who create innovative or Avant Garde works often look to traditional art forms or methodologies as a starting point for moving in a new direction. For this pop-up we will be showcasing some of our talented studio artists, both past and present, who focus on utilizing textiles in innovative ways to share their point of view. Their practices are as diverse as the artists themselves, however, they all utilize traditional methods in new ways to create their works. We will also share simple techniques for creating textiles with natural dye.
Atlanta Contemporary’s Studio Artist Program
Our Studio Artist Program supports local working artists by providing subsidized studio space and fostering a collaborative environment to support creative processes. The program supports a diverse range of disciplines including ceramics, film & video, installation, painting, performance, photography, and sculpture. Atlanta Contemporary offers artists private workspace as well as opportunities for dialogue about contemporary art through free public programs, a professional resource in independent curators, and an ever-growing community amongst the program.
Studio Artist Alum: Lillian Blades
Lillian’s works are predominately mixed media assemblages and are made with an assortment of materials, both found and constructed by her in her home studio.Her childhood home of Bahamas, ancestral background of West Africa, and her late mother, who was a seamstress, influences her art.
Jaime Bull builds a cast of sparkly clad forms that embody a strong, sexy, dangerous female presence. She is a collector and uses found, repurposed materials in her work to reference the body with a feminist perspective. Jaime examines and questions our relationship with the environment by highlighting a preoccupation with hoarding mass quantities of “stuff.”
Sonya Yong James is a sculptor and multi-media artist whose work has focused on the exploration of the idea of physical devotion and ritual experienced through the process of repetitive labor intensive making. She is influenced by the landscapes of the South, personal narrative, and the history of mourning in America. Sonya uses contrasting visual textures (gentleness and violence, animal and human, and beauty and the abject) representing opposing sensations and active emotional tensions.
Myra Greene uses a diverse photographic practice to explore representations of race. She is currently working on a body of work that uses African textiles as a material and pattern to explore her own relationship to culture. Referencing blackness without the body, each piece in the Mixed series is a composition of hand-dyed strips of fabric that fade from rich tones of red, green, and orange to brown.
Current Studio Artist: Kelly Taylor Mitchell
Kelly Taylor Mitchell centers oral histories woven into the fabric of the Africana Diaspora with her work manifesting as immersive installations partnered with artists books. Kelly’s interdisciplinary practice spans printmaking, papermaking, installation, book arts and sculpture.
All these artists have a very personal connection with their materials.
These artists utilize traditional methods in innovative ways that share their personal viewpoints. This week we challenge you to create with materials that are personal to you. Collage using those cooking magazines you’ve been holding on to, photograph a still life of your thriving houseplants, or create using natural materials from around your neighborhood. Focus on family, identity, community, or subject matter that is personal to you.
This week’s featured studio artists use textiles. For our weekly tutorial we will explore natural dye and simple dying techniques.
Materials needed for making natural dye:
• Foraged mulberries, dandelions, avocado skins/pits, spinach/kale • Pot of simmering water • Cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer, or linen tea towel
Creating your own dye is very easy!!
• Forage at least 2 cups of natural materials. It may be a good idea to collect little-by-little. Forage on walks around the neighborhood and freeze mulberries, dandelions, etc. in labeled bags until you have collected enough materials. • Place natural materials into a pot and pour in just enough water to cover materials. • Bring pot to a simmer and allow dye to steep for 20 minutes to an hour. • Strain dye through cheesecloth or strainer and discard solid materials. • Pour dye into a lidded glass jar or squeeze bottle.
Materials for dying: • Cotton fabric (tea towel, t-shirt, etc.) • Soda ash powder • Rubber bands • Small wood scraps, coins, clamps, clips • Large bucket • Plastic grocery bags • Protective gloves
Prepare your textiles to dye.
Fabric textiles need to be prepared in a special solution to keep the dye from washing out of the fabric.
Place clean cotton textiles of your choice into a large bucket of soda ash solution. Follow instructions on soda You can purchase soda ash online here.
You can create an alternative fixative using household materials: baking soda solution or saltwater solution can also act as a fixative for dying.
Compose your desired motif
There are hundreds of ways to create patterns in your textiles. Explore our Pinterest boards for some of our inspirations.
If doing your own search, use “shibori techniques” and “tie dye methods” as key words.
Dye your textiles!!
Submerge your textiles in your natural dye. Allow your textile to set in dye for at least 10 minutes.
If your design requires different colors you may want to use a squeeze bottle. Natural dyes have sediment so be aware that your squeeze bottle will need continuous unclogging.
Let it rest overnight
Place your dyed textile into a plastic grocery bag and let sit overnight. Make sure your fabric does not touch any ink printed on the plastic bag. The ink will be permanently transferred onto your textile, so make sure the bag is not inside out.
Reveal, rinse, and wash
The next day (but not longer than 48 hours) unwrap your textile to reveal your design.
Rinse out your fabrics to remove any excess dye.
Wash in normal wash cycle before using your textile.
Share your creations!
We love seeing how you use these prompts in your artistic practice to develop your own creations. Share them with us on social media using the tag: #ACMakes
Elisabeth Herrera-Very is an art educator working in Atlanta. After nearly a decade as a public school visual arts teacher she shifted her focus to community engagement and museum education. As a teaching artist she develops programming that provides inclusive, thoughtful, and relevant art experiences for all participants. Her programming at Atlanta Contemporary encourages patrons of all ages to explore their own creative process through contemporary art making practices and thematic instruction.