**Special Sessions May, June, and July 2017: USD -$300 Fee Reduction**
E-mail ASAP Chris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for Extension Instructions
This unique instructional residency offers competitive professional opportunities for emerging and mid-career, national and international artists age 22 and over.
Note: The focus of this instructional residency is fiber dyeing; the curriculum is not applicable to making inks or paints. For non- fiber-related instruction that includes traditional organic primers (cactus and lime, rabbit glue, gelatin) stuccos, egg temperas and frescoes with mineral and natural pigments, as well as principles of Viceregal painting techniques, we offer the Novohispanic Arts Instructional Residency: Painting in Puebla.
natp1apr natp2apr
José Antonio de Alzate y Ramírez (1737-1799) - Newberry Library: Vault Ayer MS 1031
"Indian Collecting Cochineal with a Deer Tail" and “Preparing the Cochineal for Dye” from Memoria sobre la naturaleza, cultivo, y beneficio de la grana (. . .). Colored pigment on vellum.
“To most Europeans cochineal seemed a gift of nature, a perfect commodity that God had intended them to possess and use to their own advantage. It never crossed their minds that the dyestuff might actually be a cultural legacy – the result of the ancient Mexicans’ long and successful effort to cultivate a strain of cochineal that would produce a perfect red.”
Amy Butler Greenfield, A perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire
Color is imbued with symbolism and meaning, it has currency, both emotional and monetary. In Mexico, color is also associated with political power, and it has a complex history that is often intertwined with slavery and exploitation, trade, piracy and therefore also war and international politics. The historical documentation of the use of color and its intricate means of production indicates its elevated value in Mesoamerica. After the Spanish Conquest, it became one of the foundations of the Spanish wealth coming from the New World. Cochineal (a small domesticated insect that produces one of the worlds most vibrant red dye) for instance was such an important product for international trade that it would reach not only European markets, but also the Near East, Africa and China; and añil (indigo) dye became a commercial force throughout the 17th century, as Europeans had no other way of obtaining deep blue dye.
Dyeing is a difficult process at best, somewhere between cooking and chemistry but perhaps closer to alchemy. Although historically, color experimentation began with plants and minerals, a bright red found in nature might not necessarily produce a bright red dye; it might produce a yellow or brown one. And to make the processes more complex, one process of dyeing might produce one set of color while another process will produce a different color, for instance through the use of different mordents. Therefore, sources for the dyes as well as established recipes, have been jealously guarded buy guilds and individual dyers alike.
Artist-in-Residence and Arquetopia Synergy Award 2015 Recipient, Sheetul Goorah (Mauritius)
lara SG2copy
Master Restorer Barbara Lara (Mexico)
The Natural Pigments Instructional Artist Residency is a production residency that includes 3 weeks of master instruction (27 hours total; 9 hours per week) in diverse techniques from Oaxaca which vary depending on the supporting fiber; the options are wool and cotton. Residents learn preparations and traditional recipes to prepare and use natural dyes, mordents, and fixatives.
The program includes hands-on instruction with cochineal, añil, and pericon, as well as a few tree barks and fruit skins to complete the color spectrum. This residency is comprehensive program to learn the natural dyes tradition of Oaxaca including resources for a better understanding of the complex culture of Mexico and the history of its colors.
Octubre 2013 181013 2651 Noviembre 2013 111113 2905
AdobeBridgeBatchRenameTemp2pigmentos PGM
Terms of 3 weeks, with option to extend for 1 to 9 more weeks as a self-directed Art Production Residency. Dates are not predetermined but are nominated by the applicant.
Technique Instruction:
  • 27 hours master instruction (9 hours per week)
Staff Support:
  • Each resident meets weekly with our staff for individualized research assistance/resources, project guidance, and critiques
Accommodation, Meals, and Local Transportation:
  • Furnished, private bedroom
  • Meals and 24-hour access to stocked kitchen and dining room
  • Wireless Internet
  • Private bathrooms with modern fixtures and showers
  • Housekeeping
  • Though cheap, everyday public transportation is also available from the residency vicinity into the city, Arquetopia provides scheduled transportation into downtown Oaxaca twice per week by van
Studio Workspace:
  • 24-hour access to shared studio with generous natural light
  • Personal workspace with large table
  • Materials and supplies for the instructional course provided
  • Materials and supplies for additional project production not included but available for purchase locally
E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for fee and application deadlines for this program.

Please Donate

Arquetopia is a self-sustaining, Mexican official nonprofit foundation that is strictly unaffiliated with any political, religious, or war industrial / weapon-building entities. Your fully tax-deductible donation will help us continue to develop our unique arts programs and contribute to positive social change.


Find Us on Facebook!