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Albuquerque Museum is pleased to introduce Indelible Blue: Indigo Across the Globe. This exhibition explores the history, techniques, and movement of indigo, tracing the different varieties of plants back to the regions and cultures that have utilized this elusive dye for millennia. Indelible Blue features artists from around the world currently working with indigo as well as historical objects from Asia, South Asia, Africa, The Americas, and New Mexico. The exhibition considers how artists are reflecting on the cultural and geographical significance of the color blue and traditional ways of dyeing as well as contemplating the social and cultural narratives that impact the present and the future.
The chemical compound (indican) required to produce indigo dye is present in various levels in several different plant families and hundreds of different plant species. Individuals around the globe have ingeniously developed and utilized various methods for extracting and applying indigo dye for at least the last 6,200 years. While many diverse local techniques and uses of indigo have existed, the allure of the famous blue dye has made the story of indigo inseparable from the history of trade, colonialism, slavery, globalism, and cultural exchange. The labor-intensive process of growing indigo plants and extracting blue pigment from them combined with the value of indigo products led colonial powers to establish indigo plantations in the Southeastern United States, The Caribbean, Latin America, and India. The Indigo Revolt in India and the legacy of slavery are examples of the complex and sometimes violent history of how and why the plant has been grown, traded, and used. The exhibition will also focus on local traditions and practices that persist outside of indigo’s existence as a global commodity.
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