Beyond blue jeans

It’s about the colour blue. Two women with a love of fabric have put together an exhibition titled, Indigo: New Works by Shelly Jyoti and Laura Kina. Shelly Jyoti, a curator, poet and fashion designer, lives and works in Vadodara. Laura Kina is an associate professor of art, media and design, based in Chicago. The two women’s ethnic and national backgrounds have influenced the style of their fabrics.

Shelly’s Indigo Narratives uses vegetable dyes, traditional embroidery and heritage symbols from communities settled in coastal Gujarat. “I worked with ninth-generation Azrak artisans in Bhuj in the interiors of Gujarat on khadi using ancient indigo resist printing techniques,” she says.

Laura’s family is Okinawan, originally from Hawaii. Laura says: “My great-grandparents used to wear indigo kasuri fabrics while working on the sugarcane plantation.” Her series, Devon Avenue Sampler, she says, allows her to think about “indigo in relation to my family’s past agricultural life and my present life as an urban artist and convert to Judaism.”

Laura has sewn patchwork of dark blue fabrics and denim reminiscent in form to the Edo and Meiji period Japanese Boro quilts. She has also hand painted iconography from hand-embroidered works along with imagery from street signs in her neighbourhood.

Shelly and Laura’s work comprises forty new works (including five site specific installations) speaks of the history of indigo — from its colonial past in India and working class blue jeans in the United States to the blue threads of a Jewish prayer tallis (beads).


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