The beauty of indigo is haunted by a painful history.
Eliza Pinckney, an 18th century slaveholder’s daughter, is widely credited with planting the first indigo seeds in South Carolina and transforming the plant into a lucrative cash crop. Before the American Revolutionary War, indigo dye, which was known as ‘blue gold,’ accounted for 25% of all exports from the American colonies, the second most valuable export after rice.
But behind the allure of indigo blue and the wealth it created was the reality of enslaved people who carried out the backbreaking work of cultivating, fermenting and processing indigo into dye.
Today, women in the Lowcountry have revived indigo cultivation and dyeing, building a flourishing community of textile artists and homesteaders. In the words of indigo artist and educator Arianne King Comer, “Indigo is the voice of our ancestors.”
Children of Indigo explores the unsettling history of indigo in the Lowcountry and the artists and homesteaders today who are reviving and reclaiming South Carolina’s indigo tradition.
Caroline Gutman (she/her) is a freelance photographer and producer based between Philadelphia, PA and Washington, DC. Her work often looks at political movements, gender and economic inequality and the creative economy, tying the past to the present. Her photography has been published by The New York Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, The Washington Post, The Guardian, ProPublica, Buzzfeed News and NPR, funded by The Pulitzer Center, the U.S. Department of State and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and exhibited at the World Affairs Council.
Previously, Caroline was a Fulbright Fellow in China where she documented Yi and Miao indigenous women artisans and their textile traditions. Prior to that, she was a fund analyst for Morningstar.
Caroline holds a Master’s in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Chinese Language & Literature and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a member of Women Photograph and speaks fluent Mandarin and conversational French and German.
Founded in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY, Photoville was built on the principles of addressing cultural equity and inclusion, which we are always striving for, by ensuring that the artists we exhibit are diverse in gender, class, and race.
In pursuit of its mission, Photoville produces an annual, city-wide open air photography festival in New York City, a wide range of free educational community initiatives, and a nationwide program of public art exhibitions.
By activating public spaces, amplifying visual storytellers, and creating unique and highly innovative exhibition and programming environments, we join the cause of nurturing a new lens of representation.
Through creative partnerships with festivals, city agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, Photoville offers visual storytellers, educators, and students financial support, mentorship, and promotional & production resources, on a range of exhibition opportunities.
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Children of Indigo
Featuring: Caroline Gutman
LocationsView Location Details Old Fulton Street and Prospect Street
Old Fulton Street and Prospect Street
DUMBO, Brooklyn 11201
This location is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
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This series was supported by the Pulitzer Center and published in Smithsonian magazine in 2022 and National Geographic in 2023.