Dye reception and workshop informs


A group of art enthusiasts learn how to process and use natural dye at a workshop last Saturday at the LMC Nature Presrve.

Brendan Cross

Deepa Preeti Natarajan’s “Iron & Wine: The Ritual Of Natural Dye,” art exhibit opened Thursday, Feb. 28 in The Los Medanos College Art Gallery.

Art classes, other students, and passersby of all forms flocked into the gallery to appreciate some art, eat some snacks, and to learn about the process of extracting and using natural dye. The gallery was as full as possible as entire art classes all poured in at once.

Some of the many features of the gallery included a piece entitled “Letters to Handan.” The piece explores a serious factory mishap in the city of Handan, China that injured and killed thousands of people with a chemical that is common in producing synthetic dyes. Anyone that went to the gallery was able to write a small letter, as provided by the artist, in response to those who were lost in the incident.

Nick Murella, a gallery onlooker and LMC art student said he liked the idea of natural dye in that is an “old artistry method” and that “paint is the actual subject matter” of the art. He also enjoyed that “things used to make the art is the art itself.”

Another LMC art student at the gallery, Garrett Huxtable, said it was a unique gallery and made him question “What is art?”

In addition to the reception, there was a natural dye workshop last Saturday that took place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the LMC Nature Preserve. The workshop was led by the artist and showcased the processes of how to make dyes and eventually dye cloth with it. Most dyes are extracted by boiling specific plants for various amounts of time, but some are also extracted by simply leaving them in water.

Anyone who attended was able to turn a plain scarf into something that was naturally dyed with vibrant colors and take it home with them.

Natarajan said, “Our workshop brought together students and their local ecology together in a new way. We used eucalyptus leaves, acorns, and California poppy roots from the preserve. The colors we made reflected so beautifully the landscape around us.”

The “Iron and Wine” art gallery will continue to run in the LMC Art Gallery, located in the Library Building, until March 14. The gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 12:30-2:30 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Contact Gallery Director Judi Pettite at [email protected] for more information.