Cara Marie Piazza

Cara Marie Piazza is an NYC based natural dyer and textile designer. She is an urban forager: collecting organic waste from florists and restaurants, and then using it - onion skins, dried flower petals, dragon fruit peels, avocado pits - to create beautiful, hand-dyed, sustainably sourced pieces. 

Cara teaches workshops in techniques such as shibori, food scraps as dye, and bundle dyeing. She is on the board of the Textile Arts Center 's Sewing Seeds Natural Dye Program.

She now works out of her studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn, where I met up with her. In addition to being a beautiful textile artist, she's also incredibly exuberant, funny and thoughtful, and we're so proud to have her here as one of Anima Rising's Wild Women.

"Isn’t that what we’re all really searching for? A little magic?"

What does feminine energy mean to you?

When I think of feminine energy I think of an enveloping warmth. It's understated strength and power and caring.  

How do you feel feminine energy plays a role in your daily life?

Besides from having lady parts, I am an instinctually very maternal woman. The world is my worry. I am very inspired by the feminine form, round shapes, circular energies and the female internal power drives a lot of my work subconsciously. Through my work I envision myself more as a conduit for my materials to make the patterns and shapes as they do, which I think is a very fluid feminine process. We're all vessels for cosmic energy, and recognizing that is inherently a feminine trait. 

Do you feel that spirituality plays a role in your life? If so, how? 

Completely. I don't subscribe to a particular religion, but I believe in a higher power and cosmic energy - I guess you could say I'm New-Age-y. I believe strongly in positive and pragmatic thinking and the transfer of energies. Thoughts are energy, so harnessing them for the positive and practical is important to me. Whether it's superstition or Karma, I also try to live my life by doing unto others as I would want done to myself.

Living proof of a higher power I find in sacred geometry and in the golden ratio rife through nature! If you look around we're all governed by a predestined set of rules and organized chaos. I think once you tap into these sequences you can live more harmoniously with the earth.

When do feel that "consciousness" started becoming important in your life?

When I had my first panic attack - I'm not sure what that opened up in me, but a series of events and cumulating life experiences led me to waking up in a cold sweat one night and a switch turning on. I decided I would dedicate my work to some sort of greater good. I've always been drawn to the metaphysical, and growing up as an only child gave me a lot of time to have internal existential crises from a very young age.

I followed the very Sartre-ian existential dilemma of losing myself in the mirror and then realising I was a separate consciousness from my physical body. Over the years, that feeling morphed into understanding more of how communal consciousness worked.

How did you find yourself on the path that you're on now?

I’ve always been interested in fashion, and from about sixteen I knew that I wanted to make it my career. I went to University in London where sustainability is heavily incorporated into the curriculum. That - combined with what I believe is my inherent Catholic guilt (or the part of my feminine energy that leads to my constant state of worry) - made me want to follow a sustainable route with my future businesses. 

In my senior year I took a natural dyeing workshop, and something clicked. I could satisfy my inherent wish to be a witch while making sustainable luxurious silks! Natural dyeing also ticks the boxes of making the happy accident through art: my most proud experiments were all accidents. Just being able to draw color from nature is magic to me, and isn’t that what we’re all really searching for? A little magic?

What are some topics that are especially compelling or interesting to you? 

Permaculture. Macro to micro urban planning in relation to permaculture, the macro to micro in general, Bucky Fuller, thoughts being energy, global consciousness, sustainability trough the multi-local, transparency through design, and open source information.

How do you feel about what is going on now, in the year 2014. Does this year/time feel especially significant to you?

In the sense of us being here and now, and living in the here and now, yes, I have had a very positive personal experience this year. Globally however, I think we’re on a tipping point that could go horribly wrong, Like Buckminster Fuller said, for the first time in history we have everything we could ever need to provide for everyone on the planet, but if we don’t act accordingly we will waste all of the resources we have. Earth's resources are finite.

Are you hopeful about the future?

Very. We have to be.

What work do you think needs to be done?

I think we need to start educating the masses on sustainability from a young age. Especially about their consumptive patterns. Sustainable education needs to start from birth. I wasn’t educated about recycling until I was 18 and moved to London, which is insane. Start them young.

What's one of your dreams?

My dream is to retrofit a Chinatown building into a fully self-sufficient natural dyeing factory. It will be a center that processes viable food waste from NYC restaurants into dyes for the fashion industry. It will run on bio-gas generators and only use rain/grey water, and also be an indoor/outdoor vertical farm for natural dyeing plants and food.

There will be a gallery/shop/event space, and I will live on the top with my chubby bull dog named Pickle. Just give me 10 years….Maybe 5, if I win the lottery…

What is one easy way you can think of to tell someone that wants to help to save the world or make a difference?

Reduce, reuse, recycle.