Developed by Greg Shelnutt, former Chair of the Art Department, Clemson University.
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Monday, February 24, 2014
"Red, White and Black Make Blue and Orange" Guest Lecturer with Andrea Feeser
Monday, February 24
1-100 Lee Hall Lee Hall 1, 323 Fernow St Clemson, SC 29634
1-100 Lee Hall
Ever wonder why the color of the South Carolina state flag is blue?
Well, not blue exactly. Indigo.
A color somewhere between deep-sea cerulean and royal purple, indigo's rich and complex history began in the 18th century and played a central role in the development of South Carolina.
A plant that was made into a dye, indigo was grown in huge quantities all over the state. In 1775, more than a million pounds of indigo were exported from colonial South Carolina to England.
Andrea Feeser explains the importance of the crop and the color in her latest book "Red, White and Black Make Blue." Told from her researcher's point of view, the book explores how indigo became the most popular color of the 18th century. It colored the silks worn by the social elite as well as the rough woolen fabrics worn by the slaves who made it. Feeser pays special attention to the ways indigo shaped the relationships among white plantation owners and the black and native people they enslaved.
"I have always been interested in the history of place," said Feeser, who is an art history professor at Clemson University. Feeser previously taught at the University of Hawaii and moved to South Carolina 11 years ago.
The Revolutionary War ended South Carolina's indigo boom, as independence cost the colony its primary purchaser of blue dye. During the war, Colonel William Moultrie and members of his Second South Carolina Regiment defended Charleston against the British. They wore indigo uniforms with white crescents on their caps. Today that same pattern can be seen somewhere else: Flying atop the State House.
Editorial Reviews from Amazon.com:
“Locating indigo production in both a global economy and the history of enslavement in colonial South Carolina, this book gives us the first tangible explanation of why indigo was such an important crop. Feeser explains just what ‘blue’ meant in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world and does it so well that indigo production makes sense in a way it never has before.”—Mart A. Stewart, author of “What Nature Suffers to Groe”: Life, Labor, and Landscape on the Georgia Coast, 1680–1920
“The official state color of South Carolina is indigo. Why? Read Dr. Feeser’s book. To understand the rich complexities of modern South Carolina, one needs to recognize the multidimensional past illustrated by South Carolina’s indigo culture. The history is there along with the material culture, and entwining connections give life and voice to known and unknown characters within a compelling narrative.”—Randy L. Akers, executive director, The Humanities Council S.C.
"[T]he microhistories presented are compelling and effective in demonstrating that people of all races were transformed by the growing of indigo. Recommended for readers interested in South Carolina history and for specialists in material culture."—Nicholas Graham, Library Journal
About the Author
Andrea Feeser is an associate professor of art and architectural history at Clemson University. She is the author of Waikiki: A History of Forgetting & Remembering.