Saturday, September 14, 2013

Yarn Bombing

Moscow Yarn Bomb
Yarn bombing is becoming more and more popular.  What is it?  Why is it gaining popularity?  Who organizes these things?  How does it fit into the definition of "art"?

Copenhagen, Denmark

Outside Cleveland, OH City Hall, 2008
A yarn bombing is an installation of knit or crochet work in a public place.  Some yarn bombings are done with permission, others without.  It is done for a variety of reasons.  In the Moscow bombing, it's done to advertise a knit and crochet shop.  (Follow link to article.)  In the photo of the tank, a more political motive is involved, to contrast the inhumanity of war against the humanity and comfort of handcrafts.  It was installed as a protest against international participation in the recent/current Iraq war.  The project was organized by Marianne Jorgensen, and knit and crocheted by crafters around the world.  Still others are done to promote a charity, or as art for the sake of art.

London Phone Booth
The London Phone Booth was done by Knit the City, a knitting collective that exists for the sole purpose of installing "Knit Graffiti". They have been prolific in their short existence, and their installations are joyful.  Their art encourages viewers to see their world in a humorous way.

Is yarn bombing here to stay?  Sure.  It's street art.  Graffiti, chalk art, Lego art, and yarn bombing are the visual art cousins of street performers who sing, dance, make living statues, and more.  Every way that people find to express themselves makes its way into a public venue.  Graffiti dates back to cave paintings.  Protest songs were documented in medieval times.  It's not going anywhere.

"Lego" Bridge, Germany 2012 by MGEX

This Lego bridge in Germany was painted with permission from city officials, and took almost 4 weeks to complete. 

The city of London has allowed installation of Lego Underground maps at 5 subway stations.

Lego Map, London Underground

So is it art?  Art has always been in the eye of the beholder.  That said, many well known artists began their public careers as "guerrilla" artists.  Keith Haring and Shepard Fairey immediately come to mind. 

Keith Haring - Brooklyn Subway Art
Other artists, like Christo, Picasso, and many more, begin their careers indoors, and move to outdoor installations after they've made a name for themselves.

We are witnessing the birth of a new form of public expression.  Some of these artists are already receiving invitations and commissions to install their art by invitation. 
Mural by Shepard Fairey

If you see some yarn bombing, snap a photo.  Post it on your Facebook page.  Share the experience!  Organize a yarn bombing of your own.  Or scan Twitter and Tumblr for artists who are looking for support for a planned yarn bomb.  Join in!

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