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A magical day of Magical Indigo

Sunday's indigo event at the University at Albany draws large crowd for NYS Writers Institute

When NYS Writers Institute graduate assistant Kaori Otera Chen suggested we produce an event on the history of indigo and an indigo dyeing workshop, we didn't know what to expect.

It was not a typical Writers Institute event. There was no book, no writer, no film nor literary component. Plus we had already sponsored 18 events during the semester.

What if no one showed up?

Happily, magically, here is what happened at Sunday's "Magical Indigo Day" at the University at Albany.

“The Indigo Dye Day program was another example of how the Writers Institute continues to expand its community engagement with enriching programs that appeal to all ages,” Director Paul Grondahl said.

“We drew more than 100 people to Sunday’s event, including preschoolers, young families, UAlbany students to senior citizens. Participants learned about the cultural history of indigo dyeing, created an indigo textile art work to bring home and helped celebrate the start of AAPI Heritage Month.”

The program, offered free and open to the public, was the NYS Writers Institute's kickoff event to mark Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Photo credit: Carol Kim / University at Albany

Video credit: Michael Huber / University at Albany

Textile artist Darius Homayounpour, with the assistance of volunteers from the Hudson-Mohawk Weavers Guild -- Sandy Lommen, Dotty Taft, and Steve Ziglar -- helped participants transform 16x16 white cotton fabric squares into unique, indigo-dyed works of art.

"It was a gratifying to come to Albany for this event and see such a nice turnout," Darius said on Sunday. "People really seemed to enjoy it. I felt a sense of community here."

Photo credit: Michael Huber / University at Albany

“Judging by the resounding success of our inaugural Indigo Dye Day event, we hope to be able to make this an annual program that continues to bring together the Capital Region community with our campus community,” Grondahl said.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to enjoy each other’s company during a fun, hands-on activity outdoors as we explored a new manifestation of visual storytelling through the magic of indigo dyeing.”

Here's how Mary Hunt transformed her white cotton square into a work of art:

Photo credit: Paul Grondahl / University at Albany

Allegra Walker, a freshman English major at the University at Albany, displays her creation.

Photo credit: Paul Grondahl / University at Albany

NYS Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl and textile artist Darius Homayounpour

Photo credit: Michael Huber / University at Albany


Born and raised in Hawaii, Darius Homayounpour earned his MFA in textiles at the University of Hawaii in 2000. He moved to Cooperstown three years ago, right before the COVID pandemic.

He is trained in textile conservation, and worked as collection manager in the Textile Department of the Honolulu Museum of Art. He taught courses in Asian Costume History and Industrial Textile Production at the University of Hawaii, and has exhibited and taught art classes for more than 25 years.

To learn more about his work, visit

"[Indigo Day] was exactly what I was dreaming," Kaori Otera Chen said, "I was hoping that indigo would bring unity to us."

Special thank you -- ありがとうございました -- to Kaori for her exceptional effort to bring Magical Indigo Day to the University at Albany.


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