Our last FEEDBACK FRIDAY was with Kenya Miles. Kenya is the artist and alchemist behind Traveling Miles Studio and founder of Blue Light Junction, a natural dye studio, alternative color lab, retail space, dye garden and educational facility in central Baltimore. In January 2022 Blue Light Junction opened its inaugural Ibura Art & Research Residency to support 6 individuals investigation and praxis in botanical color and medicine.\
Founded by textile artist, farmer, and natural dye practitioner Kenya Miles, Blue Light Junction focuses on growing, processing, and preserving the history of natural dyes and their artistic, practical, and commercial applications.
Amidst the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Light Junction opened unofficially in March 2020 and endeavors to provide opportunities for urban farmers, artists, and crafters to participate in the artisanal economy. The 2,400-square foot space houses a dye kitchen and facilities to grow, dry, store, and process natural dye plants and pigments. An adjacent garden (Hidden Harvest annex) is used to grow indigo and other natural dye plants. Blue Light Junction will exemplify a closed-loop farm-to-dye process, through grey water systems, rainwater catchment, composting, and other environmentally friendly practices.
Kenya Miles’ work with the cultivation of dye plants at Hidden Harvest Farm and the Parks and People Foundation forms another key part of this learning journey. The growing, harvesting and processing of natural dye plants affords pathways into understanding the artistry, chemistry and ecological impacts of natural dyes, while also engaging project participants in grappling with the larger social and cultural context of this work. The historic enslavement of Africans and their descendants in this City and the dispossession of indigenous peoples and their land informs our approach to this work, as does a sincere effort to center and support people harmed by these histories and follow their lead in honoring ancestors, undertaking healing work and creating new cultural forms within the field of natural dye.
We are so excited to be offering Persicaria tinctoria Indigo Seeds from Blue Light Junction.
In 2022, our Persicaria tinctoria seeds come from 3 non-profit, community-centered organic growers working with Blue Light Junction. The growers are all part of Baltimore’s Nature’s Colors Intiative that “strive to maximize the natural dye industry resources in Baltimore City with a focus on economic development and job creation in historically disinvested communities.” Each group is working hard to use “Baltimore’s existing economic and environmental assets of plants, agriculture and makers to make the city a prime location for the natural dye market.” We are all for this effort!
This year, we are pleased to offer seeds from:
Parks and People Foundation’s luxurious indigo patch
Backyard Basecamp/Bliss Meadows thriving 10 acre neighborhood reclamation plot
Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm serving fresh produce and children’s education to urban Baltimore
If you are not familiar with FEEDBACK FRIDAY, every week we speak with dyers, artists, scientists and scholars about our favorite topic, natural dyeing and color. Curated by Amy DuFault, Botanical Colors’ Sustainability and Social Media Director and presented by Botanical Colors’ Founder Kathy Hattori.
We even have our own theme song thanks to musician Jimmie Snider (click here to hear more of his music)!