DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Artists at the University of North Texas are stepping away from harsh chemical dyes in favor of natural dyes made from flower petals, plant leaves, roots and other organic materials.
The organic materials will be grown in UNT’s Natural Dye Garden, a project that was suggested by students, and will be funded by the We Mean Green Fund, housed in UNT’s Office of Sustainability, and UNT’s College of Visual Arts and Design.
The garden will be located on the west side of Bain Hall, which is at the intersection of Avenue D and Highland Street. A garden opening is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 9 (Wednesday) with a reception and artist talk with Greenmeme, a design group installing a site-specific work in the garden, funded by a private donor.
“Artists have used dye gardens for centuries, but over the last few years these gardens have grown in popularity as many look for an alternative to chemical-based dyes,” said Lesli Robertson, lecturer in UNT’s College of Visual Arts and Design. “In addition to providing materials for dyes, the garden will also be a beautiful community space with art installations and room to walk around and relax.”
Visiting artist Sasha Duerr led a natural dye workshop at UNT in 2012, which inspired students to create a natural dye garden on campus.
The space will benefit students from areas of study outside of the visual arts as well, including biology and anthropology.
“The Natural Dye Garden will provide an iconic educational and aesthetic experience for visitors and the students using it, along with being a great complement to UNT’s Art in Public Places program,” said College of Visual Arts and Design Dean Robert Milnes.
The We Mean Green Fund is a $5 per student fee that funds environmentally-friendly and sustainable projects across the UNT campus. The fee was voted on and approved by a student majority during Earth Week 2010. UNT students, faculty and staff can propose sustainable projects online.
“The Green Fund is a great opportunity for students to get involved and make a positive environmental impact on campus,” said Lauren Helixon, assistant director of campus sustainability and We Mean Green Fund coordinator. “Rather than passively participating in campus growth, the fund allows students to leave a legacy and the Natural Dye Garden in one such project.”
The fund has supported projects including the installation of electric vehicle charging stations across campus, the installation of filtered water stations to easily refill reusable water bottles, tree plantings and added recycling bins.