Blooms and Hues
In the heart of downtown Norway, Maine, a vibrant community garden is poised to support a living canvas of color and creativity. The Alan Day Community Garden, located two blocks behind the main street, with the work of artist Lauren Olson will become home to a dye garden with a Research and Development Grant. A once-overlooked plot at the back of the community garden is destined for revival as a Natural Dye Garden, for an array of plants that will yield a spectrum of natural colors to breathe life into bold and creative art pieces and provide a center point for educational opportunities. As the seeds are planted, seedlings propagated and flowers are harvested, the community will be invited to partake through one-off workshops. Participants will learn about plant identification, harvesting techniques, and dye methods through the workshops. When they’re ready, the annual dye plants will be harvested during the growing season, to use in the art pieces, while perennials and biennials will continue to thrive, for use in future years.
Collaborator: Emma DayBranch, Alan Day Community Garden
Lauren Olson works to blend home-sewn textiles, nature-inspired prints, and natural dyes in her creative repertoire in western Maine. Originating from Vermont, she developed a printmaking background during college at St. Lawrence University, and later found inspiration and connection in Maine's welcoming farming community as a farm apprentice. Motivated to intertwine her art with the natural world, Lauren explores the realm of natural dyes, cultivating pigments and connection between art and the slow living lifestyle. Beyond her artistic pursuits, Lauren actively contributes to building a more connected and equitable Maine food system, embodying her enthusiasm for merging creativity with cultivation.
Emma DayBranch is an artist from Western Maine. She received her education from St. Lawrence University and Warren Wilson College where she completed a BA in Fine Art. Emma uses narrative, portraiture, nature inspirations and animation to share perspectives on the human experience. She has been creating art of various forms for 23 years and loves sharing her passion for art with her community. She also loves to interweave art and creativity into her community health work including projects centered on ending the stigma around Substance Use Disorder, bringing more awareness to Adverse Childhood Experiences, and efforts around food justice and access to care. Art is a healing medium supportive of communications and collaborations that have the ability to hold nuance, complexity and contradictions with compassion. Most recently, she has entered into collaborations with Lauren Olson and has been exploring the process of painting with mordants and natural dye processes.
Image: 'Cosmos' - Sarah Kearsley Photo; Cosmos Flowers grown in the garden; 2023; Norway, ME