It was a celebration of all things green as a group of about 25 people gathered at the MAC POP Garden launch in the Cedars neighborhood. A few kids tried out their painting skills in a project using natural dye, and visitors weaved yarn through slats on a large wooden frame.
The gathering kicked off the MAC’s green initiative with Promise of Peace Gardens and the art collaborative Tierra Firme. MAC POP Garden's mission is to inspire artists and educators to use natural dyes in art, so the MAC, a nonprofit that advocates for Dallas' creative freedom in the arts, is planting a dye garden in its backyard.
Rachel Rogerson, MAC's executive director, says she wondered what could be done with the huge green space behind MAC's warehouse at 1501 S. Ervay St. The United Kingdom’s Green Arts Initiative, a group of organizations that seek to lessen the environmental impact of their work, inspired Rogerson.
"The goal is to promote sustainable green art practices and, in turn, gain interest among other artists in the community," she says. "Art is often at the forefront of social change, and this is something the art community could improve upon. Art materials are often extremely toxic.”
The MAC hopes to facilitate knowledge of the ways natural dyes can be used in works of art. To that end, the garden will provide a place for artists to grow flowers, roots and other plant materials.
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Promise of Peace Gardens will head most of the educational outreach — some on-site and some in local schools. The nonprofit began a Seed-to-Soul program at Bayles Elementary School in Dallas, and its programming with the MAC will resemble that model, which provides hands-on experiences to teachers and students integrating math, science, literacy and health concepts within the context of the garden.
Tierra Firme, a project-based collaboration between artists Analise Minjarez and Sarita Westrup, worked in developing the layout of a functioning natural dye garden at the University of North Texas. Tierra Firme and Promise of Peace will select the plants for the MAC’s garden and will offer two workshops about the use of natural dyes and textiles.
Community members, including neighbors, volunteers and artists, will plant and maintain the garden. The MAC and other donors will sponsor the garden, allowing artists to use the plants and materials in their projects at no charge. The planting of the garden is set for the end of the month. It will begin with four beds, with plans to grow to six in the upcoming months.
Community members interested in assisting with the establishment and maintenance of the garden or related activities should email firstname.lastname@example.org.