Founded by Oregon artist Tilke Elkins in 2019, Wild Pigment Project sprang from a question: What does it mean for artists of all kinds to work with materials that they gather themselves in wild places — remote, rural, and urban — and how do the artists’ personal, ancestral histories interact with the histories held in the land where they forage?

For Elkins, who is additionally the curator of the Wild Pigment Project exhibition at form & concept, a strong interest in foraged pigments began years ago in 2017, though it felt difficult to connect with others attempting to engage in similar practices. The creation of this project nourished an international network of Indigenous makers, artists, and artisans, resulting in a stunning collection of work from 28 artists across the globe.

From Melissa Ladkin’s ochre painting made from material foraged on Githabul Bundjalung land in Australia to the deep blues of Lucille Junkere’s 12-times indigo dip-dyed sculptural works with pigments foraged from Jamaica, myriad voices and experiences are represented. Textile works appear alongside sculpture, video, printmaking, and ceramics, providing ample opportunities for surprising interpretations of long-practiced processes.

Though all of these artists’ practices are individual, a foundational idea of the Wild Pigment Project is that of reciprocal foraging. Through the GroundBright monthly pigment subscription that’s run through the project, over $25,000 has been re-invested into the land and community organizations that steward it. Additionally, 22% of the proceeds from this exhibition will be donated to the Institute of American Indian Arts to support young artists as they pursue new opportunities through traditional techniques.

Wild Pigment Project is on view at form & concept in Santa Fe, New Mexico, through December 3, 2022.

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