Friday, October 21, 2016

Yarn Bombs

Have you noticed trees in your community that are wrapped in yarn. Or a light post that wears a sweater? How about a bike rack, adorned with granny squares? 

What is going on there?  Two words: Yarn Bomb

Yarn bombing, otherwise known as graffiti knitting, is a form of street art through which an artist covers an object or space with knitted or crocheted pieces. This "kniffiti" can be traced back to Houston, TX, where the movement began in the early 2000s. A group of six artists collectively began to cover objects in the city with yarn. They called themselves Knitta, Please. Though this group has since dissolved, one member - Magda Sayeg - continues to cover her world in wool. In fact, many people look to Magda as the leader of the global yarn bomb movement.

Yarn bombers are percolating in crafting communities (and actual communities) worldwide. Like other forms of street art, the yarn bombers often use the material as a medium though which to fire up conversations about controversial topics. For example, one group of artists in California has been working on an environmental textile project titled There Is A River Here, which serves to draw awareness to healthy and vitality of the Santa Ana River. 

It is interesting to note the contrast between harsh nature of hard-to-talk-about topics and the softness of natural fibers. In some ways, wool is nearly limitless*. Further, we tend to conceptualize bombs as destructive, eradicative creations, but it seems that yarn bombs function exactly oppositely. Yarn bombs are constructive and hold presence without requiring permanence. 

Over the next few weeks, I will be taking a closer look at the practice of yarn bombing. In particular, I will be exploring the mathematics, collaborative design, and engineering involved in these wooly wonders. Quite frankly, how does an artist figure out how to cover a curvy park bench in a nicely-fitting sweater? 

*Note: Different than this form of limitless.


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