Indigo-A-Go-Go

Did you know that there are a seemingly endless numbers of colors of indigo?

"Indian indigo dye lump" by Photo by Evan Izer (Palladian) - Own work.

“Indian indigo dye lump” by Photo by Evan Izer (Palladian) – Own work.

The use of natural dyes involves the identification, collection, cultivation and conservation of dye plants, the use of chemistry, including natural mordants/fixatives, fermentation, the art of dyeing, and in many cases, an understanding of local customs and the historical context. Dye plants are often studied along side medicinal plants. In addition to plants, invertebrates and minerals are used sources for dyes. Authentically STEAMy, right???

Here’s link to a nice, older article on the topic, including diagrams some important flavonoid dyes: http://userwww.sfsu.edu/msequin/JCE1981ChemofPlantDyes.pdf

And here’s another to the Facebook page of textile artist Hisaki SUMI. Check out her absolutely gorgeous images! (Thanks, Tani!): https://www.facebook.com/pages/Science-Art-of-Natural-Dyes/129463670414005

 

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STEAM Ed in India

In her Art Lab Blog, (http://kkartlab.in/profiles/blogs/the-science-art-education-models-of-india-and-the-us-a-case-study)  Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa considered the difference in the educational systems in the United States and India with a focus on STEM and STEAM.

Artist at the 2013 International Kolkata Book Fair, the largest non-trade book fair in the world and the most attended book fair in the world. (Biswarup Ganguly)

Artist at the 2013 International Kolkata Book Fair, the largest non-trade book fair in the world and the most attended book fair in the world. (Biswarup Ganguly)

In her argument she stated that, compared to students in the U.S., Indian students have much more extensive exposure to the arts all the way or nearly all the way through school. In fact, the arts integration is so strong that students don’t experience art and science as separate disciplines. (Do you agree with Dr. Challa’s characterization of the educational system in India?) India has many people with STEM skills. It also has general public that is much for accepting of science than is the general public in the States.   What a great model for STEAM, right?

However, because of our powerful research presence in the States, something lacking in India, she says that folks in that system look with admiration at our more single-minded attention to STEM.  So what to do? Dr. Challa suggests a hybrid approach that result in outstanding researching and excellent science communication. What do you think that would look like?