Chromatopia from Collected Color
By Heather Clark Hilliard
The ongoing nomadic studio project, Collected Color, maps my travels across the country with my husband, Ed Hilliard, and our dog Butternut. It features individually framed fabrics dyed with wild and cultivated plants that have been sustainably collected from various regions across the US. The fabric remnants from that project and others were layered and adhered into large panels which I then cut into strips to weave the six works titled Chromatopia, meaning "the color of place." These works express the intuitive and instinctual ways color and place map our lives.
The original concept for Collected Color was sparked by India Flint's book Eco Colour, which provides a context for nomadic dyeing and provided me with ideas for adapting a dyeing project suitable to being on the road. Before departure, I mordanted various weaves of cotton, hemp, and silk and put them into forty quart sized mason jars, which were packed in wooden boxes tightly secured to the roof of our VW camper van.
While observing and engaging with the changing landscapes, I collect wild and cultivated plant species that are documented in natural dye books that cover vast North American terrains. These books include illustrations and Latin names to aid in identification. In addition to natural dye references we carry regional plant identification books and I often photograph the plants in their environment.
My favorite books to travel with are: North American Dye Plants, by Anne Bliss (1993. Interweave Press, Loveland, CO), Craft of the Dyer; Colour from Plants and Lichens, by Karen Leigh Casselman (1993. Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, NY) and Navajo Native Dyes; Their Preparation and Use, by Nonabah G. Bryan and Stella Young (2002. Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, NY).
|Steeped, portrait of jar #131 packed with Rhus sp. flower heads from Collected Color VII|
|Photograph Copyright by Heather Clark Hilliard|
Plants for the projects are gathered from the wild as well as from my dye garden back home in Oklahoma. Each jar is filled with one plant species, a piece of mordanted fabric and local water. The date, location, species and water sources are documented. I discovered that the packed jars are a crucial part of the process in this project and they are interesting and beautiful in their own rite. Once home again, I began photographing the jars individually as "portraits". These form the photo installations Steeped which correspond with some of the Collected Color works.
|Chromatopia 4, naturally dyed fabric remnants||Chromatopia 5, naturally dyed fabric remnants|
|Photograph Copyright by Heather Clark Hilliard||Photograph Copyright by Heather Clark Hilliard|
The Chromatopia works are included in Fettered–Unfettered, a solo exhibition by Hilliard at the Nona Jean Hulsey Gallery at Oklahoma City University School of Visual Arts, August 25, 2014 to October 17, 2014. You can see more work at www.heatherclarkhilliard.com