Sabbatical Art Exhibition by Julie Tourtillotte
Sep 23Moreau Art Galleries
Sep 23Moreau Art Galleries
|Thursday, Sep. 23 - Sunday, Nov. 7||Free Event|
I am very grateful that a spring 2021 sabbatical supported by the College afforded me the opportunity to delve into research on natural dyes and quality studio time to produce the work for this exhibition, Growing Color / Pandemic Gardens.
I’ve had a goal for a long time to expand my knowledge and direct experience with natural dyes, a fascinating subject with deep histories and cultural importance in many parts of the world. Beginning in January, I pored over textbooks and online resources, watched hours and hours of recorded talks by expert practitioners and historians, and tested dyes using materials I foraged or purchased. Eager to increase the dye materials available to me, I obtained seeds and grew plants traditionally used to produce color including indigo, woad, madder, murasaki, weld, coreopsis, cosmos, chamomile, marigolds, Hopi black dye sunflower, eucalyptus, safflower, Black eyed Susan, goldenrod, bachelor buttons and red dye amaranth. While several of these faltered or died, the majority thrived in my garden and field and every week through the spring and summer I had a new dye bath brewing.
One thing that has drawn me to natural dyes in my teaching and artwork, is an interest in sustainability and finding materials to use that are safe for human health and the planet. For this exhibition, I wanted to make work that not only relied on natural dyes, but used a natural, biodegradable fiber. I chose merino wool that I happened to have in my studio and that I knew would readily soak up color. For some of the pieces in the series I also made use of salvaged, upholstery samples that had been donated to me and otherwise would have found their way into a landfill, and a lovely piece of black felt that was handed down from a friend. I took care to use or keep all my scraps as I worked so that no material has been wasted. And to save water, I re-used mordant baths and exhaust dyebaths multiple times which also expanded the number of colors and shades I was able to obtain.
The idea of a garden, from seed, to root, to nurtured plant or weed was a beginning point for the imagery and symbolism in this body of work made during the ongoing months of the Covid-19 pandemic and during times of political strife in this country, prevailing concerns that also found their way into my garden.
Julie W. Tourtillotte is a professor of art and chair of the Art Department at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana where she teaches drawing, fibers and video art. Julie received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and BFA from Saint Mary’s College. She has exhibited her art work throughout the United States including the University of Dallas, Kent State University Art Gallery, Indianapolis Museum of Art and The National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. Her work is in private and museum collections including the South Bend Museum of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the Detroit Institute of Art. She has received Indiana Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts grants in recognition of her work, and a faculty research award supported her study of shibori techniques in Arimatsu, Japan with Yoshiko Wada and the World Shibori Network. Her art work incorporates natural dyeing, handmade felt, shibori resist dyeing, screen printing, and embroidery. Julie and her family maintain 20 organic acres, including a dye garden and art studio, adjacent to Potato Creek State Park in South Bend, Indiana.