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Explore the rich blue history of indigo with these CCPL programs
July 13 - August 22
Our friends with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor and the Charleston County Public Library are hosting a series of events surrounding the history of indigo this summer. Below are additional details:
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Indigo is an art, a science, and a significant part of Charleston’s local history. This summer, CCPL is offering a comprehensive series of indigo programs, including hands-on indigo dye classes, historical lectures and book discussions at several branches. While participation in multiple programs is optional, lectures and book discussions have been scheduled following many dye classes to allow time for materials to dry. All programs are free to attend, and patrons are invited to attend any combination of the programs.
As part of this indigo education series, members of the CCPL staff have teamed up with members of the International Center for Indigo Culture, the Gullah Geechee Corridor, and artists who use indigo in their work to plant and harvest indigo at Seven Oaks Plantation on Johns Island. Alan Garren, who now owns the 500-acre tract of land says it’s the perfect spot for indigo because the crop used to be grown there.
There are even dye vats that Garren estimates date back to the 1740s.
Leigh Magar wanted to help community members better understand the rich heritage of indigo cultivation and dyeing that traveled from Africa and the Caribbean to the Lowcountry with enslaved Africans. And that’s where the idea for the Seeds to Dye Pot project started.
“This place has a beautiful yet tangled past, and part of the see to dye pot project and working with the community is a way of healing and bringing light into that painful past,” said Magar..
Dye Class and Book Discussion
Participate in a hands‐on indigo dye class, followed by a discussion of “The Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney.” Those interested in learning more about indigo cultivation are also welcome to read “Red, White, and Black Make Blue” by Andrea Feeser. Participants will benefit from reading either book (or both!) prior to the discussion.
Dye Class and Screening of Presentation by Dr. Nic Butler
Participate in a hands-on indigo dye class, followed by a screening of Dr. Nic Butler’s presentation on the history of indigo. *Please note that the July 27 program only features the dye class, not the presentation.
Indigo in the Fabric of Early South Carolina
Presentation by Dr. Nic Butler
Indigo plants, prized for the vibrant blue dye they yield, formed an important part of South Carolina’s agricultural economy during our colonial era. Many historians point to Eliza Lucas Pinckney as the figure most responsible for introducing indigo to the Lowcountry around 1740, but the efforts of her contemporaries and the broader economic context of her work have received far less attention in recent years. Join CCPL’s historian, Dr. Nic Butler, for an illustrated overview of the historical context of indigo’s rise and fall in early South Carolina.
World of Indigo
Thursday, Aug. 22 at 4:30 p.m. at John’s Island Library
Watch “Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo,” an independent, feature-length documentary by Mary Lance about the history, culture, and revival of the blue dye. It’s also about remarkable people around the globe who are using indigo in projects intended to improve life in their communities, preserve cultural integrity, and bring beauty to the world..
After the film, join panelists from the International Center for Indigo Culture and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission to learn more about indigo cultivation around the world.