"Plants are foundational to my art. Living beings like us, are made by the great Unknowable Essence. I approach my work with gratitude and respect for these beautiful plants and the ecological web in which they grow. As part of my practice, I go on walks, observe nature, harvest plants sustainably, and work within the boundaries of the seasons. I forage or grow almost all the dyes I use in my work and try to keep my practice as environmentally sustainable as possible. Through dye plants, I can see the passing of the seasons and feel deeply grounded in a sense of place. Each piece I create communicates the season and land in which the dye was grown and represents a unique moment in time stored in the DNA of the plants. My art is a response to the toxic, flat, lifeless quality of synthetically dyed, mass-produced cloth and an effort to reconnect with the plants that grow right outside my front door. When I create a piece, I usually start with a plan drawn from a journal I keep for ideas. These plans are based on countless hours of experimentation which inform me how various dyes and plants will play together on the cloth. When I like something, I try it on a larger piece of silk. Working in layers, I often use Japanese shibori cloth folding techniques or other dye-resist methods and often dye with plant parts in direct contact with the cloth. I never quite know what the outcome will be at the end. Opening up a dyed bundle is a surprise, a collaboration between myself and the plants. Working in this way is a slow, but gratifying labor of love. The colors are a consequence of a relationship built on respect, compassion, observation, experimentation and knowledge gained from other natural dyers."
Jacoline Mulhall was born in Kettering, Ohio and presently lives with her husband Kevin in Mars Hill, North Carolina. Raised by parents who loved art, camping, and hiking, they instilled within her a deep appreciation of nature and creating art. When Jacoline was 10 years old, she found a book on natural dye that captured her imagination. The center of the book contained a beautiful picture of various plants and the colors one could make from them. She still owns the book. When she became an adult she met a Japanese Natural dyer, Mami Adachi, and helped host a natural dye workshop that was sponsored by Antioch college. This inspired her to pursue natural dye and surface design. Jacoline’s work is in part influenced by Mami Adachi’s mentor Shimura Fukumi. Designated as a Japanese national treasure, Fukumi has practiced weaving since 1924 and natural dyeing since 1955. In her book The Music of Color, Fukumi expounds on her spiritual connection to nature, dye plants and color. She quotes from a dye book by Maeda Ujo, Ancient Colors, and Dyes of Japan. “Fires for simmering were lit with reverence; water, earth, and metal were chosen with care; and so the best dyes combined all five of the traditional Asian elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Life in every color came from the root of heaven and earth. “ Jacoline’s own spiritual practice, the Baha’i Faith, expounds on a spiritual force contained within all created things. Baha’u’llah, the prophet founder, states, “Know thou that every created thing is a sign of the revelation of God. Each according to its capacity, is, and will ever remain, a token of the Almighty.” It is her honor to collaborate with these tokens and capture some of their beauty.
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