Since Pre-Hispanic times the cochineal insect has been used as a natural colorant by indigenous peoples from the Americas. By the sixteenth century the pigment entered the global market and became one of the most coveted and widely traded commodities in the world, a position it would hold for more than 300 years until the advent of synthetic dyes in the mid-nineteenth century. While cochineal was revered for the deeply rich red pigment it produced, this natural resource yielded a wide spectrum of colors that ranged from a light to pink to dark purple. This installation explores the enduring legacy of cochineal and its innovative use among contemporary designers from across the Americas through a variety of medium including lacquered furniture, textiles, and works on paper.
For more information: https://www.cooperhewitt.org/channel/nature-by-design/