Food Material
A Conversation with Charmaine Bee
October 6, 2021

For our sixth episode of Food Material, Charmaine Bee and Active Cultures Curatorial Assistant Anna Cho-Son discuss Bee's artistic delineation of the legacies of indigo and rice, navigating through physical and spiritual landscapes the ways in which indigo and rice are remembered and forgotten, transformed and altered. The two explore the parallel histories of indigo and rice cultivation across the Pacific and Atlantic—sites spanning physical and spiritual landscapes—and the labor, love, and politics of pattern and design and the ways in which these materials inform Bee' recent textile, video, and sculptural work.

Food Material is an ongoing series organized by Active Cultures curator Bianca Morán that explores how foodways provide a window into our most fundamental beliefs about cultural expression, equity, environmental sustainability, and ourselves.

Food Material: On Indigo and Rice is made possible through the generous support of the Active Cultures Board of Directors; the Gatherers Annual Fund; and California Humanities. This program is also supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency.


Charmaine Bee uses mediums such as video, movement, sculpture, writing, sound and textile and makes work about Gullah heritage and the histories and manifestations of African diaspora spirituality. Charmaine works with materials harvested in the Sea Islands of the United States during the era of slavery, such as rice and indigo. Charmaine also makes work about medical bias as well as healing and wellness through plant medicine and how these histories are activated through portals of geographic sites, time and spaces we can't see but can feel.

Before receiving an MFA, Charmaine formally studied herbalism and makes herbal medicine and teaches workshops on herbs for dreaming. Charmaine is from the Sea Islands of South Carolina and resides in Bahia, Brazil.