Pondering the color of airplane sound and the meaning of indigo because of the Seattle Art Museum


April 21, 2016 by Terumi

Mood Indigo Textiles from Around the World

“Get ready for a crash landing” the boy ahead of me squeals.  His mom promptly hushes him, “We don’t crash land. We just land.” And she looks around tentatively for reassurance that her son hasn’t cursed the plane.  I meet her eyes and smile and though normally this type of ominous negativity jarrs my danger sense and all my warning bells on airplanes, this time the whole thing is comical.  I’m wedged between my son who is eagerly reading the airplane safety pamphlet and a tall man squished like one of those magic snakes in a can ready to spill out of his seat at the slightest hint of turbulence.  Another man behind me is so ill from food poisoning that the flight attendants have locked one bathroom and declared it no longer functionable and none of us in the back seats could eat if we wanted to because the airplane has run out of food.  And did I mention the plane is about 50% full of children?  Maybe because of all the noise and craziness around me, I can’t help but imagine what color this plane would be if it was “art”.  What kind of sounds would an artist use to represent this moment? The squealing boy? The man writhing in pain? The creaking knees and joints of the crunched up giant as he unfolds?  The collective noise of a couple hundred strangers bunched together in an act of moving from one place to another while seated?  And instead of feeling fear, I am left sitting and wondering because of an exhibit I went to see at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

The Indigo exhibit at the Seattle Asian Art Musuem really got to me.  I am not knowledgeable enough to be an art fiend but I love beautiful art and the stories of how things are made.  The way Rowland Ricketts’ installation made me so feel so intrigued about a color I have so long taken for granted has me inspired.  On top of just seeing this exhibit, I learned that color has sound and a sound artist, Norbert Herber, captured the sounds of the Indigo dyeing process and that plays in the background of the exhibit; you hear waves of a neutral sort of sound with the plunking of indigo seeds and the whirring of some sort of a machine.  This all conjures a sense of wonder about the indigo dyeing process and how thoughtful and historic making textiles and creating color actually is.  The sounds and the layers of colors I remember from the exhibit are what ran through my head while I was stuck in my airplane seat.  What are all the sounds of our life and why don’t we pay attention to them?  And when we think about all the history that goes into making all these colors and sounds and the parts of life we take for granted it is rather meditative and freeing.

part of Mood Indigo Exhibit at Seattle Asian Art Museum

I really enjoyed the way all the textiles in the Mood Indigo exhibit centered around the Indigo theme.  I didn’t realize how powerful important Indigo is in the textile world.  There was a woven blanket that somehow alluded to Star Wars.

quilt with a starwars allusion at the Mood Indigo exhibit at Seattle Art museum

And I loved this beautiful Turkish Rug that bestows a blessing on people who stand before it.  This beautiful act of goodwill and love made me stop and think for a while.

turkish rug with a blessing at Seattle Asian Art Museum

And it was lovely to see so many gorgeous kimonos.

indigo kimonos at Seattle Asian Art Museum

I thought of my grandpa’s kimono that he wears to his tea ceremonies and wondered about its history and my history and I learned that the indigo plants in the exhibit come from an area near where the Japanese side of my family is from.  I wondered what my family there was doing while I was wandering through the art.

So I’m glad I visited.  I’m always glad when I visit a museum.  I love how some experiences shape others and that creates our life layers just like the layers of colors in the tapestries displayed in this beautiful art installation.  Visiting the Art Museum prior to my flight gave me peace and thankfulness in a situation I might have otherwise found uncomfortable and scary and I never imagined that I would feel that way.  If you are interested in the Mood Indigo Exhibit it is in the Seattle Asian Art Museum until October 9th 2016.  I would also suggest saving some time to explore Volunteer Park while you are there and I love the nearby Volunteer Park Cafe too.

Seattle Asian Art Museum

(PS. I visited the Seattle Asian Art Museum as part of a press tour but the thoughts above are my own and I was not required to post.)

(PPS. I somehow ended up at another bakery I love on my drive home because of my GPS.  It is called Crumble and Flake and they make really delicious pastries too.  They do not have seating so it might be better if you stop there BEFORE you head to Volunteer Park and enjoy your treats while sitting in front of the museum taking in the natural beauty.)



  1. mrsportiasmith says:

    This is a beautiful post – your words are phenomenal!

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