Upcoming art installation to showcase Manitoba’s natural dye colours

A Winnipeg artist is working on a new art installation that pays homage to Manitoba’s distinctive colour palette.

Ash Alberg, a natural dyer, textile artist, and teacher, is known for their work with natural dyes derived from locally grown plants.

“Our colour palette is largely yellows and greens and browns and russets. But we can get a full rainbow, and that, for me, is a lot of fun. Even if we’re only looking at the golds, the range of those golds is actually really diverse, which is beautiful,” Alberg said.

Alberg’s artistic process involves extracting colours from plants grown in Manitoba and using them to dye various fibers such as fabric, yarn, wood, and even silk.

“I’ve just had to spend a lot of time experimenting and playing with things,” said Alberg. “So I have been making art recently that is all made with our local plants, and some of them are documented dye plants that are cultivated on purpose. And then other ones are invasive plants.

“Plants like goldenrod, tansy, yarrow, and Queen Anne’s lace, often considered weeds, contribute to our color palette, which is largely yellows and greens and browns and russets,” they added. “But we can get a full rainbow, and that, for me, is a lot of fun.”

Sustainability and ethical foraging practices are important to Alberg. The artist typically grows their own plants or buys them from local farmers. When they do forage for plants in the wild, Alberg is sure to do it with sustainability in mind.

“I’m choosing when in the season, I’m grabbing things so that I’m not disrupting the rest of the ecosystem,” said Alberg.

Alberg is organizing a fundraising dinner in February to support the exhibition, which is slated to open later this year. The dinner promises a unique experience with dishes incorporating edible dye plants and a dance performance.

The dinner aims to immerse viewers in a multi-sensory experience, reflecting the intricate process of natural dyeing. Alberg drew inspiration from a background in theatre and has collaborated with friends chef Owen Campbell and choreographer Yosuke Mino to create a unique and engaging exhibition.

“Owen is going to be making a multicourse meal. And Yosuke is going to be doing a dance performance for folks before we then have our sit-down dinner. So yeah, it’ll be a full evening of getting all of your senses involved.”

More information can be found online.

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