True Colors is about artists who create color from natural materials, and about the historical importance and environmental sustainability of this practice. Deep conversations with twenty-eight artisans from every part of the globe reveal their wisdom, traditions, and know-how —and suggest that we ignore what they know at our peril. Traditional approaches to making color offer sustainable options to a fashion system badly in need of them and memorable cultural narratives to a world hungry for beauty and spirituality.
Keith Recker is the perfect person to collect and share these stories. His years of global travel, working with artisan groups and individuals as well as connecting them to influential designers in the fashion and interiors industries, puts this book right on trend, though the stories are timeless. A complete spectrum of glorious color sweeps through the pages by way of carefully curated photography. True Colors provides an immersive visual experience and an inspiring travelogue of personal stories and practical information from more than two dozen artists who are leaving their mark on the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Keith Recker is President and co-founder of HAND/EYE Fund, which publishes handeyemagazine.com, a multidisciplinary journal of global handmade creativity. He is also a board member and Creative Director of the International Folk Art Market, the world’s largest fair of its kind, visited every July in Santa Fe, New Mexico by more than 20,000 buyers. He was the Executive Director of Aid to Artisans (2000-02), where he supervised operations of the $4.5 million international nonprofit agency, which grew to $8 million. He also served on the Aid to Artisans Board of Directors for many years. His previous book, PANTONE: The Twentieth Century in Color, has been translated into eleven languages.Through his specialized consulting practice, Chromosapien, he currently provides trend and color intelligence to the Pantone Color Institute and other forward-looking clients.
PRAISE FOR TRUE COLORS
“This book interweaves literature, philosophy, art and religion with the traditions, manufacture and enjoyment of color. The breadth and depth of the stories behind each color makes this a compelling resource to any student of color, craft, art, nature and history.” —KATHARINE KUHARIC, Professor of Art, Hamilton College, and Diebenkorn Fellow, San Francisco School of Art
“Linking textile dyeing to massive problems with pollution in the wet processing of contemporary textiles, True Colors elevates the value and beauty of traditional dye practices. The book venerates traditional cultures with long histories of natural dyeing, as well as contemporary practitioners and applications, acting as an antidote to mainstream fashion’s wasteful and polluting processes. By highlighting dye masters from around the world, Keith shows that natural color can be a means to affect positive change—a welcome challenge to the system.” —SASS BROWN, Assistant Lecturer and PhD Candidate, Manchester Metropolitan University
“Keith Recker introduces us to artisans all over the world—from hereditary craftspeople in indigenous communities to millennial fashion designers—dedicated to harvesting the color by fermenting plants or boiling flowers or pulverizing beetles or milking snails. It is shocking how little most of us know about how the natural world has yielded its colors to us for millennia, even though it’s only been a tiny blip of time in human history that we have been relying on synthetic dyes. What’s even more shocking is that nearly every one of the methods Recker highlights—from indigo to cochineal—had all but died out in the very communities where people had once practiced them for generations. The makers in this book have diligently reclaimed older techniques and practices, bringing back essential aspects of their own cultural identities. The current revival in creating color from nature is an act of imagination, and an expression of our shared humanity.” —DEBORAH NEEDLEMAN, writer and former editor of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, WSJ Magazine, and founding editor in chief of Domino Magazine
“From indigo leaves to purple sea snails to ebony silt to bright orange mushrooms, Keith Recker offers an insightful and personal exploration of dyestuffs and pigments found in our natural surroundings. In this beautifully photographed volume, Recker invites readers into a vibrant and inspiring world of color, and the lives of diverse practitioners around the globe who are dedicated to making this world a reality. Scholars, designers, artists, and enthusiasts who share Recker’s passion for traditional craftsmanship, sustainable fashion, and the handmade should make this book a touchstone in their libraries.” —Cristin McKnight Sethi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Art History, The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, George Washington University, and Editorial Board Member of The Textile Museum Journal
“Keith Recker has created a masterpiece, a unique account of the alchemy of color as defined by master artisans around the world. He documents the colors of nature, the colors that always existed, revealing a very old, and at the same time very new, palette that is very much needed in this world.” —MARCELLA ECHAVARRIA, Mexico City-based journalist and photographer
¨’No one will protect what they don’t care about, and none will care about what they have never experienced,’ says Sir David Attenborough. True Colors is an ode to natural dyeing, its endless palette and the inspiring people who continue the practice. The book will make the uninitiated in natural dyes fall in love with their magic. The book’s important argument for natural dyeing and organic agriculture will, hopefully, jolt us out of the chemical dye addiction that poisons our homes and selves. —KAVITA PARMAR, designer and founder of The IOU Project
“Vivid in every sense, True Colors locates natural dyes as an unexpectedly rich intersection be- tween past and present. Capturing the voices of both traditional practitioners and innovative designers from across the globe, the book covers the full spectrum of a fascinating subject.” —GLENN ADAMSON, Senior Scholar, Yale Center for British Art
“The countless voices and stories surrounding color have never been so compellingly and lyrically expressed. The people, their passions, their processes and their cultural traditions are captivating. You thought you knew color? Think again.” —CHARLOTTE MOSS, designer and author