Susana Mejía
Medellín, Colombia, 1978.
As a student in art school, Susana Mejía studied painting, becoming particularly interested in color. However, dissatisfaction with the art scene eventually led her to take up “social work” in the form of organizing knitting workshops for the inmates of a women’s prision in Medellín. The byproduct of these workshops as a large quantity of knitted fique fibers, wich Mejía kept for years.

Around the same time, Mejía began traveling to the amazon, intending to gain firsthand knowledge of that final ecological frontier. On one of her trips to a settlement near the Amazon River, she saw a bright, colored liquid being cooked over an open fire and was surprised to learn that it was a dye being extracted from local seeds. Fascinated that such intense and seemingly artificial colors could come from a plant, Mejía resolved to learn more. This resolution eventually turned into Color Amazonia (, Mejía’s seven-years project to identify the plants most used as pigments in that part of the Amazon. She pursued the project along with a team of other artists, anthropologists, botanists, photographers, and filmmakers.

One aspect of the project involved creating a small, centralized grove to plant relevant trees and bushes so as to have them in constant supply, but important work also took place in the local communities themselves, as Mejía interviewed women there in order to learn the methods they used to extract pigments.

Knowledge of dyeing is, as it were, a dying practice, with mass produced cheap goods reaching even the most remote parts of the globe. Today even in the Amazon it has become easier to buy readymade branded t-shirts than to plant fibers, collect them, spin them, weave the thread into fabric, and finally to dye the fabric with natural pigments. In this way, Color Amazonia represents an important effort to preserve local intellectual patrimony.

Color Amazonia focused on eleven plants –Achiote, Amacizo, Palo de Brasil, Bure, Chontaduro, Cudi, Cúrcuma (the only of the plants not native to the region), Chokanary, Llorón, Huitillo, and Huito. The project’s results take several forms: dyed fique fibers hanging from clotheslines (as they were left to dry in the rainforest); knitted fique fibers; tinted papers, with runs in the texture that bring to mind rivers and topographies; a herbarium with specimens collected in the rainforest; a series of monoprints using the plants themselves as a matrix; a video that narrates the whole experience; and a recording of sounds from the forest.

Mejía’s project is visually striking, but she is reluctant to call it an installation - or even art: for her, Color Amazonia is a way of displaying the results of ethno-botanical research. It just happened, almost despite itself, to have a strong aesthetic presence.

Text from: Waterweavers: A chronicle of Rivers Río Amazonas
by Jose Roca & Alejandro Martin.

1997–2001 | Fine Arts, The Art Institute of Boston, Massachusetts.

2014 | Color Amazonia, Eafit, Medellín, Colombia.
2013 | Color Amazonia, FLORA ars+natura, Bogotá, Colombia.
2003 | El Paraíso Perdido, Galería de la Oficina, Medellín, Colombia.

2019 | Humboldt: traspasar el mito, Centro Cultural Metropolitano
(MET), Quito.
2019 | Proyecto Arte Vivo, Artesanias de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.
2018 | Cosmogonies, au gré des éléments, MAMAC, Nice, France.
2018 | An exhibition with art installations by Susana Mejía, Pamela Rosenkranz, and Anicka Yi,
Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
2017 | Galerie Les filles du calvaire, París, France.
2017 | Coloquio Arte no Objetual, Mamm, Medellín, Colombia.
2015 | Once Again, Galería de la Oficina, Medellín, Colombia.
2015 | Biennale Internationale du Lin de Portneuf, Québeq, Canada.
2015 | Waterweavers, Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C., USA.
2015 | Waterweavers, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid, Spain.
2014 | Waterweavers, Bard Graduate Center, New York, USA.
2013 | Gloria Dinero, Galería de la Oficina- Taller de Grabado la Estampa, Medellín, Colombia.
2005 | Exvoto,Galería de la Oficina, Medellín, Colombia.
2004 | Siete Artistas, Quinta Galería, Cartagena, Colombia.
2003 | Aproximaciones a lo pictórico, Biblioteca Luis Ángel Arango-
Banco de la Republica, Bogota, Colombia.
2003 | Cuatro Artistas, Sala de Arte Suramericana de Seguros, Medellín, Colombia.

2018 | Witte de With, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
2017 | II Coloquio de Arte no Objetual, Mamm, Medellín, Colombia.
2016 | Taller de color, FLORA ars+natura, Honda, Colombia.
2015 | La ciudad de los niños, Mamm, Medellín, Colombia.
2013 | La universidad de los niños, Eafit, Medellín, Colombia.

2018 | Cosmogonies, au gré des éléments, MAMAC, Nice, France.
ISBN: 978-9-46161-473-5
2015 | Atlas Subjetivo de Colombia, Semana Libros, Bogotá, Colombia.
ISBN: 978-958-58987-7-6
2015 | Floræ, #1 - Florestanía. FLORA ars+natura. Bogotá, Colombia.
ISSN: 2462-9324
2014 | Waterweavers: A Chronicle of Rivers, BGC. New York, NY.
ISBN: 978-0-9824680-1-2
2013 | Color Amazonia, Mesa Editores. Medellín, Colombia.
ISBN 978-958-46-1636-4