Naturally Dyed Textiles by Kayla Powers

Naturally Dyed Textiles by Kayla Powers

As a part of Stetson's Artists and Lecturers Series, the Gillespie Museum and Department of Creative Arts co-hosted Kayla Powers, a weaver and natural dyer, for the opening of her February 2021 Stetson exhibit Naturally Dyed Textiles.  Powers, whose Salt Textile Studios are in Detroit, Michigan, coaxes color from both native and invasive plants, from roots, bark, leaves and flowers.  As a place-based artist, she finds the potential for beauty in unlikely places, including winter landscapes.  She is inspired, she explains, “by the limitations of a seasonal palette and the utilitarian nature of woven cloth.”

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Artist Kayla Powers and her Salt Textile Studios, Detroit, Michigan

Powers has a Bachelor of Arts in art history, criticism, and conservation from Western Michigan University.  She started her Salt Textile Studios business more than three years ago, focusing her work on local natural color that is derived from plants foraged and cultivated in the city.  She brings an urban sensibility to the preservation of the traditional crafts of weaving and dyeing.

During her visit to campus, Powers worked with environmental art students on the grounds of the Gillespie Museum exploring local natural dye plants from the Volusia Sandhill Ecosystem and demonstrating techniques for extracting color and dyeing textiles.  Her work will be exhibited in the Environmental Gallery of the Rinker Environmental Learning Center (RELC), adjacent to the Gillespie, from February 1-26.  The gallery will be open to the Stetson campus communityfollowing Safer Stetson protocolsfor limited in-person viewing, Wednesdays & Thursdays 1-4 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m.-1 p.m.; virtual online exhibit coming soon!

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Natural dye processing and samples

While at Stetson, in a run-up to her exhibit opening, Powers hosted a live-streamed virtual Artist Talk on Monday, February 1, and a live-streamed virtual demonstration of the natural dye process on Tuesday, February 2 with assistance from students in the Environmental and Land Art course taught by Stetson professor Katie Baczeski.  These online events were recorded, and once edited for viewing, will be posted here, so stay tuned!

Be sure to also check out Kayla Powers's website to see more of her amazing work, like the outdoor installation Local Color (pictured at the top of the page), a year-long study of natural dye plants found around Detroit, and the culmination of time spent studying both plants and textiles, and dyeing more than 50 skeins of wool to weave a series of tapestries.  And download Kayla's Artist Page to learn more about her background and her Naturally Dyed Textiles exhibit here at Stetson.

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Examples of Kayla Powers's naturally dyed textile works