Pigment Library

MassArt Resilient Pigment Library

Founded in 2020 by Sustainability Fellow and Studio Foundation Professor Jane D. Marsching the Resilient Pigment library from inks, pigments, oil paints, and watercolors collected from around the world. This library is a source of inspiration, information, and curriculum dedicated to pigments extracted, foraged, and processed sustainably. It includes pigments from indigenous artists, soil scientists, geologists, and artists created from berries, trees, plants, soil, rocks, and more. The collection was inspired by a set of historical pigments from the 1800s manufactured and distributed by Professor Marsching’s great grandfather’s company J. Marsching & Co. Soon an online compendium of pigment information, sources, and curriculum will be available here.

We work with so many pigments in our art and design studios and rarely do we consider where they come from. What impacts do they have on local ecologies, planetary boundaries, human health, cultural knowledge, community labor, and more?  As we slowly begin to turn our living as well our art and design practices towards materials and processes that wherever possible participate in safe, local, healthy, and just businesses, labor, and ecology, how can we make more loving choices in our pigment usage?  

What kinds of pigments are we talking about: paints of course: oil, gouache, watercolor, acrylic, markers, inks, etc.; dyes, stains, and pigments for materials; digital pigments in printers.  The list is endless.  

This library posits the question: what would it look like to make work from pigments foraged, tested, and used from elements or beings found within my bioregion of New England? A next step would be to find out how to work with forest stewards, farmers, park rangers, soil scientists, etc., to create an interconnected mutually supportive network of producers and creatives.  How can we participate in a restorative pigment economy grown from a deep caring for climate change remediation and local economies? 

The Resilient Pignment Library calls out to a future of health and justice for all humans, nonhumans, and ecologies involved. 

(This text is directly inspired by and grateful to Rebecca Burgess’s Fibershed work)

Visit the Pigment Library on display outside the Sustainability Studio D110 behind the DMC Atr