This exhibition started on November 16, 2019 and is on display until it's not.

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American cochineal [Dactylopius coccus], a small parasitic insect that feeds on the prickly pear cactus, was for centuries the source of the most coveted red pigment in the world. Imbued with profound artistic, cultural, and economic significance for indigenous peoples of Mexico and the Andean highlands of South America, cochineal was transformed into a widely traded global commodity upon European contact in the 16th century. For more than 300 years it was used around the world to impart color onto a variety of goods, most commonly textiles, until the advent of synthetic dyes in the mid-19th century caused its usage and value to decline. While historically it was favored for its ability to produce a highly desirable crimson red, here, contemporary designers consider the ways in which the insect's red carminic acid can yield shades ranging from soft pink to deep purple. Continuing to inspire innovation and creativity among today's makers, cochineal remains an inimitable material for the 21st-century designer.

  • Textile, Nebula, 2015
  • silk, wool, moriche palm fiber, copper, metallic yarn; dyed with indigo,....
  • Museum purchase through gift of Suzanne Tick, Dorothy Waxman, and Maylene M.....
  • 2016-52-1
  • This object is part of the Textiles collection.
  • Textile, Six X Four II, 2009
  • hemp, cochineal-dyed alpaca, natural brown cotton, natural alpaca.
  • Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund and through gift of....
  • 2018-19-1
This object has not been digitized yet.
This object has not been digitized yet.
This object has not been digitized yet.
This object has not been digitized yet.
This object has not been digitized yet.
  • This object was made by Bi Yuu.
  • Wallpaper, Movements, 2019
  • cochineal pigment, board, nails, and cotton string.
  • Courtesy of Gloria Cortina and Holland and Sherry.
  • s-e-3288
This object has not been digitized yet.
This object has not been digitized yet.
This object has not been digitized yet.
  • Lamp, 2019
  • cochineal-dye sisal, hammered aluminum, led light.
  • Courtesy of Fernando Laposse.
  • 48.2019.1
This object has not been digitized yet.