Today is Day 03 of my participation living with a square of indigo in a fading box with connections to Japan. The cloth was dyed with indigo from Tokushima and the art project is led and developed by Rowland Ricketts. Four hundred and fifty people are participating all around the world. I feel abundantly blessed to represent Wilson County and Indigo Fibershed. I will live with the indigo in the fading box until early December, when I will mail it back to Tokushima, Japan for a large-scale art installation at Bunka-no-Mori. When the art show ends, my box will be returned to me.
Excitement doesn’t begin to express how I feel. My love for indigo and natural dyeing grows with every dyeing creative hands experience. I still remember the first time I saw indigo dyeing as a child. My heart pounding from expectation, when my Momma declared, “watch my Precious, you’re going to witness something amazing!” What I saw through a child’s glazed over excited eyes as green wet cloth turned blue continues to delight me fifty years later. I stopped dyeing cloth in my late 20’s because it seemed a Southern rural colored country girl kind of thing. Mama and Mat continued to grow indigo until their health decline and the plant became a garden shrub.
My family’s connection with natural dyeing almost died out because of me. Had it not been for events that brought me back to live in Wilson to spend time with my Momma during the last years of her life – indigo and natural dyeing would have been lost. I had also walked away from stitching and quilting because I was chasing the dream of being a ceramic sculptor. My love affair with clay was genuine but timing and obstacles always keep me from achieving success. It wasn’t until I took my first Textiles class at East Carolina University, that I realized clay was like chasing smoke for me. Then I understood my Momma’s words, “share our families stories through what sustained us.”
I’m number 367 of 450 in the Awa Indigo Art Project. I’m a mixed blood N.C. Tuscarora/Florida Seminole colored girl born at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Racism, jealousy and envy have tried to beat the dream of making art and being a teaching artist out of my heart and hands. But, just like the black sandy soil where I took my first breath, I’m still here. I may be bloodied, bruised and broken by life’s circumstances but every time I witness indigo oxidize on cloth, I see amazing “What If?” possibilities.