Review - African Blues: My Life in Indigo

by - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gasali Adeyemo speaking at the Maiwa Textile Symposium

On October 21, Gasali Adeyemo delivered his lecture "African Blues: My Life in Indigo" to a full house in the Net Loft. Gasali last delivered a lecture to the symposium audience in 2007 and it was a pleasure to reconnect with him.

Here is Tim McLaughlin's introduction to the evening ...

Tonight it is my pleasure to introduce Gasali Adeyemo. Gasali is an artisan from the Yoruba culture of Nigeria. He specializes in the traditional techniques of patterning cloth and dyeing it with African indigo. 
Gasali is a man who is full of stories. He is so full of stories, in fact, that I hesitate to tell you too much about him ahead of time for fear that I might give one of his tales away. But I think there is one that I can mention. One that emphasizes who he is and the courage of the transformation that he has made without giving too much away. 
Gasali grew up in Nigeria. He is from family of nine – all living in a small house, sleeping on the concrete floor. When he was preparing to leave Africa for the first time, he was in the airport in Nigeria. A man struck up a conversation and asked him where he was going. He replied that he was flying to the United States. The man was impressed. 
How is it that you can go there? The man  asked, What will you do there? 
I will teach indigo. Gasali replied. 
The man was incredulous. Why would someone invite a man all the way from Africa only to teach indigo? Indigo grew everywhere. Everyone knew you could dye with it. Why even bother with something so common? 
How can you afford your ticket? The man asked. 
Actually … they are paying for my ticket. Gasali replied. 
The man could not believe it. The world was a very strange place indeed. He walked away shaking his head. 
Now, what I want to emphasize with this story are three things: risk, love, and vision. 
When Gasali decided to follow in the path of his mother – who is also an indigo dyer, he took a huge risk. He took this risk because he loved indigo and he especially loved what it did to cloth. He still loves that, as those of you who are fortunate enough to be in his workshop will discover. But there was no way to know if his love of indigo was self indulgent or far-sighted. 
Today, we say that Gasali Adeyemo is a man of great vision. He lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a respected artisan. He flies all over the world talking and teaching about indigo. It is easy for you – some other artisans might say – you are a successful man and everyone wants you to speak and teach … 
But when Gasali was a young man, indigo was as common as the weeds by the side of the road – in fact many of the weeds by the side of the road were indigo plants. What was in between that young man and the many you are going to listen to tonight were many many, years of hard work and an unbelievable dedication. 
Risk. Love.  And vision. 
I often say that this audience is filled with makers. Making has the power to transform your life—sometimes in small ways and sometimes on a grand scale. I know of no other individual who’s life has been so radically changed through the potential of making. How? How has making transformed his life in such a profound way? 
To answer that question I turn over the floor to the man himself ... Gasali Adeyemo.
Tim McLaughlin introducing Gasali Adeyemo.

You May Also Like


  1. I would like very much to be there with all of you to hear the indigo stories of Gasali Adeyemo!!! But I still feel happy to hear some of them through your blog!!! I live in Athens, Greece and your voice reaches up to me.


We moderate comments to keep posts on-topic, avoid spam, and inappropriate language. Comments should appear within 24 hours.