The Mobile Color Laboratory: A Natural Pigment and Dye Garden

Where does color come from? How can we grow, harvest, and create our own natural dyes in the in-between spaces of neither here nor there? Can plants successfully grow on a mobile surface? What types of colors can we harvest from plants grown in the Willamette Valley?  The mobile pigment and dye garden is an experiment aimed at asking and answering both the specific and ambiguous questions about natural color, plants, and mobility.

What is  The Mobile Color Laboratory?

The Mobile Color Laboratory is a garden of plants grown for their natural dyes on a converted bicycle trailer. A few examples of dye plants include sunflowers, dahlias, and marigolds; these flowers produce color that can be simmered out of the plant matter and used to both protein (wool & silk) and cellulose (cotton & linen) materials. The dye plants are pulled by bicycle on a re-used trailer with added floor, walls, foldout greenhouse, toolbox, irrigation, soil, and plants.

The initial motivation for The Mobile Color Lab is to explore the intersection of art, horticulture, and community engagement. The secondary motivations are to negotiate with the formalized gallery space, experiment with the potential to grow color on a mobile surface, question the origins of color, learn through conversations with knowledgeable collaborators and the performance of teaching, and to create intellectual and physical accessibility of art through mobility.

At the completion of the physical garden in the spring of 2017, workshops about natural color, seminars about soils and the chemistry of color, and garden tours began. The Mobile Color Lab is a place for open experimentation with color, idea generation about the potential of the natural world, and engagement with each of the senses.

Exhibitions

Workshops

Mobile Color Lab model no. 1. digital rendition. Madelaine Corbin. 2016