Brandeis students stitch history: 'Indigo Road' illuminates the connection between slavery and denim

By Dan Holmes
June 5, 2024

A dress made from recycled denim.

“Indigo Road” is a fiber art sculpture project that helps tell the story of enslaved people who worked on U.S. indigo plantations, and its connection to the cultural history of American blue jeans.

Each fabric sculpture is made from recycled blue jeans and includes an embroidered patch of cotton with a QR code that links to the story of an enslaved indigo worker and the history of indigo production.

Conceived by Brooke Stanton, costume designer in the Department of Theater Arts, the project was constructed by 29 Brandeis students from a variety of majors. Students worked on the project over the course of the entire year and the fabric sculptures were displayed during the Festival of the Arts in April.

A students sews.
Dahlia Ramirez ’27 sews a panel as part of the Indigo Road project.
A dress detail
The cuff of a dress sleeve made from a recycled denim zipper.
A dress made from denim on display in a sewing shop
Audacy Sheffield ’26 sews a panel that will be attached to a dress.
A students works i the costume shop.
Annette Pinstein ’25 works with some some recycled denim in the costume shop.
two people make adjustments to a denim dress.
Costume Shop Director Brooke Stanton, left, and Luisa Earle, Lead Costume Stitcher, adjust the Phillis Wheatley dress featured in the Indigo Road project.