The Shakers literally ‘colored their world’ from the interior and exterior of their buildings, to the objects they used and to the garments they wore.
Slowly this vibrant world began to dawn on me about a month into my residency. Was it when we examined their garments with a blue warp and red weft, a process they called ‘changeable,’ that renders a vibrating look to the coat or gown? Was it standing in the storage room and seeing painted pails all the colors of the rainbow? Was it being overwhelmed by the multiple yellow ochre hues of paint–peg rails, floor, built-in cupboard, window trim—contrasted with the blues, greens and reds of the objects in the dwelling room?
Hard to say if it was just one moment, but more likely an accumulation of hues over time that dazzled. The Shakers lived in a vibrant world, both interiorly, with their religious beliefs and exteriorly with their painted world. If only I could time travel back for a day, a week and take that color walk with them.
I invite you to take two color walks with me.
Next week on October 22 at 5:30pm via Zoom, Hancock Shaker Village Curator Sarah Margolis-Pineo and I will discuss my residency, the search for the Shaker palette through natural dyes and mine the collection for brilliantly colored examples.
Please sign up to join us for A Coat of Heavenly Brightness and register here at Hancock Shaker Village’s website.
Last week, I participated in ‘COLOR + ECOLOGY’ part of the The Common Thread Series, a collaboration with the Southern New England Fiber Shed and the Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab at RISD. Laurie Brewer, RISD Museum Costume & Textiles Associate Curator + RISD Apparel Faculty Member along with Amy DuFault and Dora Mugerwa discussed ‘how color’s relationship to regional ecology and history impact the curation of how colors are represented in fashion and textiles’.
Video of our discussion is available here via The Nature Lab.