Exhibit: The Red That Colored the World at the Bowers Museum
Cochineal bugs yield a marvelous red dye that has been a favorite among spinners, weavers, and embroiderers for many generations. Today, cochineal is used by both traditional and modern fiber artists across the globe, and it is often included in guild dye-day events.
The fiber world has been buzzing this year about a new traveling exhibit organized by the Museum of International Folk Art: The Red That Colored the World. This massive exhibit “tells the extraordinary story of the cochineal bug, which had been in use for centuries in the Americas before it was discovered in sixteenth-century Mexico by Hernán Cortés and other Spanish conquistadores. The bug’s juice was found to create a red dye unparalleled by any other in nature, thus changing art, science, fashion, and history forever.”
The Red That Colored the World follows cochineal’s presence in the pre-Columbian Americas, through Europe, and beyond. Through textiles, paintings, manuscripts, and decorative arts, you can explore the politics and science of color. The exhibit reopened in October at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, and will be on view through February 21, 2016. On December 12, the museum is hosting a red color-mixing workshop for artists, and you can stop by the courtyard to see a cactus sporting some live cochineals—don’t miss it! For more information see the Bowers Museum website.
This exhibition was organized by the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, and made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and circulating through Guest Curator Traveling Exhibitions.
Featured Image: When crushed, these iridescent, dried bugs yield a deep red dye. Photo: Kate Larson.
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