Colorful skeins of yarn will soon become, well, clothing of sorts — not scarves and hats for people, but knits for trees, bike racks and other features, fixtures and appendages around the Center for the Arts, turning the public space bright and cozy as the days grow darker and colder.
Knit The Center is the nonprofit Center’s first collaborative yarn bombing, a form of street art, by some accounts, that applies knitted and crocheted yarn to everyday public objects to brighten up outdoor spaces.
“I have seen this project done in many other communities all over the world and have always wanted to do this here in Jackson,” Oona Doherty, the creative initiatives director at the Center, wrote in an email to the News&Guide. “There are so many people that knit here, I thought it would be great to mobilize all these knitters for a collaborative, creative project that is uplifting.”
To accomplish its woolly goal the Center is looking for knitters and crocheters of all ages and abilities to help with the creation and installation of yarn art. It’s also accepting yarn donations.
Doherty considers the project to be COVID-resilient and a safe way to volunteer time to a cause.
“With more people at home and cold weather upon us, I wanted to provide a creative outlet for crafters and knitters,” she said. “Volunteers can participate safely at home, and installation will be done completely outside.”
In late November and early December volunteers will help fences, railings, trees and bike racks slip into some handmade comfort.
The origins of yarn bombing are uncertain. Some instances date back to the 1990s in Houston. Considered a form of graffiti when done publicly and without permission, yarn bombing is different in that artists don’t mark their territories or make political statements. They are simply bringing color to spaces.
The Guinness World Record for the largest yarn bombing display is held by the Craft Club, which decorated a children’s hospice with 13,388 crocheted items. Various other bridges and sculptures, including the Andy Warhol Bridge in Pittsburgh and Wall Street’s Charging Bull sculpture in New York City, have gained attention after being yarn bombed.
While the Center for the Arts’ installation may not end up being a world-record breaker, it will bring some color to downtown, which especially during pandemic times ought to offer some comfort.
“With social restrictions in place and less people than we normally have on our campus, these types of projects activate spaces and hopefully spark a sense of surprise and joy,” Doherty said. “This project is a way to use the craft of knitting to celebrate the arts and spread some good cheer during a challenging time.”
The cozies will stay up for through the winter (or as long as weather allows). To volunteer, sign up by Nov. 25 at JHCenterForTheArts.org/calendar/events/knit-center or call 734-8956.