My Indigo Blues Journey

I’m a Teaching Artist from a family of teachers and women who loved sewing, quilting, dyeing fabric, weaving rugs, embroidery and crochet.  I grew up in a multi-generational home where handmade was a way of life.  I earned a BFA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Studio Art with concentrations in Ceramic Sculpture and Painting.  I have additional educational experiences at East Carolina University in Ceramics, Painting, Art Education and Textiles and graduate work at Western Carolina University and Penland School of Crafts.  My teaching experience includes K-12, community college and university.

I learned traditional indigo dyeing using green plants from my blood great-grandmother Hattie Woodard Harris (N.C. Tuscarora/West African) and adopted great-grandmother, Mary Burnette (French Gulla/S.C. Edisto); grandmothers Minnie Woodard Haskins and Mattie Burnette Randolph; and my mother, Doris Jones more than 50 years ago.  My mother was a Home Economics educator for 43 years with graduate work in Textiles from Penn State University. Indigo Day was a big event in our rural family.  It was always the official start to Harvest Festival.  Preparations would be made weeks in advance and cooking for the Indigo Dyeing Feast took days.  This was our calendar Thanksgiving event and everyone participated.

In recent years, I studied surface design techniques including Shibori in the Textiles program at East Carolina University with Christine Zoller and natural dyeing with visiting artist, Rebecca Cross.  I also have a 2017 Summer Certificate of Completion from Penland School of Crafts, where I studied natural dyeing with Charllotte and Sophena Kwon, renowned worldwide for reconnecting indigenous cultures with natural dyeing. They also own Maiwa, the leading source of natural dyestuffs.

Even though Algonquin natural dyeing traditions were preserved and passed down in my family bloodline, I don’t own the knowledge. It belongs to all Algonquin people living in the Coastal Plains of Eastern North Carolina. Indigo dyeing came back to the people in Roberson County on the land of my Lumbee sister, Patricia Brayboy. Pura Fe and the Woman Scared River Drum Society sponsored the workshop. Later workshops were held in Wilson County near the historical Tuscarora Toisnot Township.

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