“Caravan” Installation (2015)

Sept. 25-26, 6:30-midnight
Pictura Gallery/Old National Bank Tent (6th St. b/w Walnut and College; festival wristband required for tent admission)

Lotus produces great works of art through powerful collaborations. This summer Indiana University (IU) School of Fine Arts introductory textiles students worked alongside faculty Carissa Carman to create “Caravan,” an installation inspired from the “Seeing Red: World Textiles” Festival exhibit.  The large-scale installation will hang from the ceiling of the Pictura Gallery/Old National Bank venue tent during the Festival.

In the winter of 2015 Carman coordinated with Lotus to find a way her students could be involved in a campus/community collaboration, as well as a service-learning opportunity. Sharing resources via materials costs, design, fabrication, and more proved to be a mutually beneficial partnership. Lotus provided a real-world and unique learning opportunity creating art for an annual event that draws 10,000 – 12,000 people annually.

“Working with Lotus has been the most exciting way of enriching the classroom with a vision that is only possible with the collective insight of a team. We are grateful for getting to think this big, to think together, and to learn how to do it naturally, with the wonderful science of plants.” – Carissa Carman, Textiles Faculty, IU School of Fine Arts.

The class learned about natural dyeing methods, public art installation logistics, and community partnerships. A class blog, “Who’s Hues”, documented the class’s process. In addition, students created their own blogs to document the process from their own perspectives (see an example here).

“Having the opportunity to work with the Lotus Festival is something I probably would never have been able to do if I had not taken this class. It’s both intimidating and exciting. …(I’m) getting the experience of working collaboratively with others to make a final project for consumers. …we are definitely not restricted or being pressured. It’s a very fun time.” 

Natural dyes used included madder (plant root) and cochineal (insects), which produce the color red. As the class progressed, they produced more dyes from a broad color palette created from marigolds, logwood, pomegranate, weld, and more. 75+ yards of fabric were dyed in the class, with a portion of dyes coming from local resource Hilltop Garden and Nature Center at IU.

Another department in Fine Arts assisted with the project by constructing a wood arch to hold the textile sculpture to eyebolts in the ceiling of the Festival tent (a 1000+ person capacity venue). The arch was created using software specifically used for 3D design. Digital mock-ups and maquettes were also used to illustrate the finished structure, complete with dimensions to be sure the installation would account for scale in its design.

Be sure to look UP in the Pictura/Old National Bank Tent (across Walnut from the Arts Village) at this year’s festival!