Ever hear of “Yarn Bombing”? Me neither. Until I spotted this special exhibit going on at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In honor of the museum’s first exhibition of contemporary crafts, the front entrance of the Pearlman Building has been bombed. Yarn bombed!
The exhibit called “Craft Spoken Here” is an installation piece. “Found in urban, suburban and rural environments, knit bombing is a public form of contemporary craft concerning reclamation and personalization of public places. Knit bombing is a fairly new form of street art that entails knitting and crocheting cozies for trees, signs, lampposts and bike racks and varied forms of adornment on public sculpture. Also called yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, urban knitting, and graffiti knitting…” (Phila Museum Web Site) Giant, colorful columns of granny squares blanket the façade. I have to tell you that in person, this towering display of handwork is stunning. As beautiful as the front of the Pearlman Building is, this splash of color is so much fun to behold. The oh-so common granny square design is soft and warm and oddly comforting in this setting. It has certainly kept me warm on many nights in my life. To see it here is somehow nostalgic and new. This familiar handmade craft is larger than life up against the cold stone of the Pearlman. I think it’s fascinating how personal this very public space feels decorated in this way.
I once asked my Yiayia Paraskevoula to make me a cream colored blanket with a little red in it. This is what I got;
But, I digress. This is not about Yiayia Paraskevoula’s sense of color. (Although frankly, I think I may have inherited her unusual taste in palettes.)The swags draping across the front doors of the building are not new. They are a common building decoration that we’ve all seen somewhere. The colors however are very of the moment. Even the design is the current color blocking that is everywhere in fashion right now.
Funny enough the most interesting aspect of the piece is also the smallest. The vertical handrails encased in knitted tubes are the most unusual component. These are actually knitted into cases that cover them and create an array of colored vertical segments scattered on the stairs. I really wish the artist had gone all the way and covered the entire railing. I think that would have allowed visitors to have the touch experience too. Gripping the railing while climbing the stairs, one would have been reminded of the warmth that these crafts are usually created for. As they are, I think they leave the piece with an unfinished feeling (like a sentence without a period) …in my humble opinion.
The yarn bombing on the Pearlman Building makes me smile. And, it makes me feel warm…emotionally speaking. After all, this is art. It’s about how it makes you feel, or, what it makes you think. If these were being knitted for a blanket we would call it craft. If it were for a sweater, it would be design. Draping the front of this regal building it is most definitely art!
I would absolutely love to know what my yiayia would have said about this! Probably “EH, trelathicane”. (insert Greek accent here) “They spend moneys for this?” And then I would have to remind her that somethings are just meant to be beautiful and thought provoking. I would have to remind her that the Greeks throughout history have been the some of the most artistic people in the world! How boring would the world be without art! And, she would reluctantly agree…I’m sure.This video shows the artist at work installing the knitted panels. http://www.philamuseum.org/exhibitions/758.html?page=3