Rowland Ricketts, a fiber artist who lived and studied indigo dying in Japan, is one of the leading experts in the Japanese indigo methods in the country. Pinsky met him early in her career when she attended a training course at his house to learn how to perform the entire process. She credits Ricketts with inspiring what became the Praxis Natural Dye project, and he serves as its mentor.
“The indigo project at Praxis creates an opportunity for people to work together and learn through the growing, harvesting and processing of indigo using historical, sustainable methods to create a valuable and unique shared resource,” said Ricketts, associate dean of the Art and Design Department at Indiana University Bloomington.
New program for schoolchildren
This year, Praxis is adding a separate program for fifth-grade schoolchildren at the Hannah Gibbons STEM School in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Each student will receive a bag of seeds and all of the equipment they need in a kit and then follow an online workshop every week.
The project will go from the first week of the academic year to the last week, and they will grow the plants at school or at home, then harvest and collect the leaves. During that time, Pinsky estimates they should have about eight leaf harvests. At the end of the year, they will use the indigo that they grew to dye a T-shirt or bandana that will be included in their kits.
The indigo program is Praxis’ only fully funded grant project with roughly $20,000 from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture that is matched by the George Gund Foundation.