Saturday, April 13, 2013

Yarn Bombers in the Museum

Yarn Bombers in the Museum

I finished my week long video shoot in Denver earl;hy afternoon Friday, so that gave me a while to walk around downtown and to check out the Museum of Contemporary Art. In the entryway to the museum were a few pieces by a local bunch of needlework activists and yarn bombers who had made these enormous banners.

Conceptually, I love yarn bombing, the gratuitous adding of knitted stuff to things in the public sphere. Years ago I noticed the mailbox outside my studio had grown knitted feet overnight. Then the bike rack acquired knitted sleeves. Since then, of course, yarn bombing has gone much more mainstream and gained tremendous online visibility. Here are a couple of my favorite installations:
The Wall Street Bull got it:

and here are a few pics, including a tree and a motorcycle

Like I said, I am completely in favor of this idea. Anything anyone can do for free to beautify the world, even briefly, is something I like. If the results are not always so artful, that's alright with me too. These banners, for instance, are more interesting to me for the fact that they were commissioned by the museum than for what they look like. To me, they don't really add up to anything visually, even with the limited palette and techniques.

But the idea that museums now are catching on to the action in the streets on such a shortened timeline, is fascinating. That is, it used to take a long time for the conservative institutions like museums to catch on to the trends and directions that the public had long since embraced. It can happen much quicker now.

I loved the Denver MCA and its beautiful building. I enjoyed one show there very much, and I found little to like in another show. But the main thing, for me, was how exciting and open an institution it seemed to be.

Now that yarn bombers have hit the museum we might see less of their work on the street. But I doubt it. Knitting, no matter how cutting edge and artful, is like quilting: a traditional craft practiced by women to make gifts for loved ones. It is difficult to assign monetary value to it. So the yarn bombers will probably continue to embrace the freedom that comes along with anonymity and knit all kinds of amusing and free public works. I am grateful.