Sunday, November 27, 2011

‘Taking Back the Knit’

A worldwide movement is bringing knit and crochet into the realm of public art. As a crafter, this subject is of growing fascination to me.

Yarn bombing involves the “tagging” of objects but unlike conventional graffiti, there is no destruction to property. A New York Times headline describes yarn bombing as “Graffiti’s Cozy, Feminine Side.”

Projects range from small tags to large-scale installations of public art, often with labels identifying the solo artist or artists’ collective. Not every artist accepts the “yarn bombing” label for his or her art.

I have compiled these annotated resources for fellow knitters and crocheters who want to explore public dimensions for expressing their art.

Annotated Bibliography

Arahonian, Gregory and Richard Stim. Patenting Art & Entertainment: New Strategies for Protecting Creative Ideas. Berkeley: Nolo, 2004. EBSCOHost Legal Information Reference Center. Lake County Law Library. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.
This guide to patenting is produced by Nolo Press, a publisher that specializes in self-help law. Full-text chapters can be read online through the EBSCOHost Legal Information Reference Center. 
The book explains traditional protections for arts and entertainment and helps the artist answer the question, “Should You Apply for a Patent?” 
It distinguishes between “utility” and “design” patents and explains how to file their respective applications.  
EBSCO Host  includes a disclaimer with chapter summaries that “Legal information provided is not a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you want the help of a trained professional, please consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state.”

ARTS Obispo. ARTS Obispo Programs. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.

The San Luis Obispo County Arts Council details several programs that invite artist participation including Arts in Education, Open Studios Art Tour, Art After Dark, Arts Space Obispo (its downtown gallery), SLOCATS monthly roundtable, Art in Public Places, artist directory, opportunities and grants. Links allow detailed viewing for each program. While the list was compiled in 2009, information about individual programs is current for 2011.

Christiansen, Betty. Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2006. Print.

This book aids the knitter in taking his or her craft into the realm of knitting for charity through profiles of existing groups. While not “yarn bombing,” it speaks to what this crafter views as a similar impulse: to make the world a better place. Possible applications include combining art and charity like “Chase the Chill,” detailed below.

City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation. City of San Luis Obispo — Public Art. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Presents an overview of three components that make up the city’s public arts program, which include Visual Arts in Public Places, Public Art in Private Development and Private Donations of Public Art. The program’s policies and procedures manual can be accessed as a PDF. A remote link takes viewers to the website of ARTS Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council.

City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation. SLO Public Art Policies and Procedures Manual. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.

Last updated June 2011, the public art policies and procedures manual addresses city-funded public art, privately-funded public art, matching grants and public art in private development.
The manual offers the definition that “Public Art develops from the engagement of an artist with public space” and attempts to define public art by stating what it is and what it is not. According to the manual, public art must involve “original, creative work by an individual or group.”
Sections in the manual address application processes for each source of funding public art, including how and by whom art selections are approved.

Conaboy, Chelsea. “Anti-graffiti knit work, or ‘yarnbombing,’ brightens cityscape.” Philadelphia Inquirer 13 April, 2010. EBSCOHost. Lake County Library. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Documents the craft of an area knitter who was inspired by Moore and Prain’s book. The author describes artist
Jessie Hemmons’ motivation is simple: “Times are tough. People want to see something bright and pretty.”

Goldstein, Jessica. “Tag, You’re Knit.” The Washington Post 2 July 2011: C1. ProQuest Newspapers. Cuesta College. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Documents the efforts of a group of women to decorate a local bar, Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club, with knit hearts for ARTventures on H, a public art installation coordinated through the Capitol Hill’s Chamber of Commerce. Follows the project from the artists’ inspiration to its effect upon the hosting venue on the day of the event.

Howard, Caroline. “Names You Need to Know: Yarn Bombing.” Forbes 30 April 2011: 8. EBSCO Host. Lake County Library. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Documents the appearance of yarn bombing in a show at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The author focuses upon political messages in yarn bombing artists’ work, ranging from anti-nuclear proliferation to drawing attention to cracked sidewalks and potholes.

Huxley, Susan. Chase the Chill, the Original. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Huxley’s Facebook page promotes an annual event that combines art, charity and yarn bombing to distribute scarves in public places. It originated in Easton, PA in fall 2010 and is expanding to Winnipeg, Canada. The 2011 “bombing” took place Nov. 5.

Idaho Library Association. Get Bombed! Yarn Bombed, That Is... Web. 23 Nov. 2011.

The ILA encourages yarn bombing to bring new crafters to the library as well as draw public attention to libraries’ “buildings, displays or events.” It compiles a list of resources that include books, websites and newspaper articles.

MicroRevolt. KnitPro. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.

MicroRevolt combines knitting with labor activism, particularly to draw attention to sweatshop labor conditions and the American clothing companies that exploit them. Its “KnitPro” application converts uploaded images into patterns suitable for cross-stitch, knitting or crochet.

Moore, Mandy and Leanne Prain. Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. 2nd ed. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009. Print.

This book is a comprehensive guide to yarn bombing. Its timeline traces the history of yarn bombing in a context of being part of a larger history that includes conventional graffiti. The book addresses construction and installation techniques as well as tips for assembling a crew. It includes artist profiles and extensive photos of artists’ work on scales both large and small.

Readers Digest. The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches: Over 900 Great Stitches Detailed for Needlecrafters of Every Level. Pleasantville: Readers Digest Association, 2003. Print.

Stitches form the building blocks from which textile artists create their art. This book assembles more than 900 stitches grouped by weight of yarn and type of stitch (lace, panels, ribs and edgings, etc.) Each stitch is illustrated with a color photograph.

Searle, Karen. Knitting Art: 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press, 2008.

Searles profiles 18 knitters who create art for public display. The book includes photographs of each artist’s work.

Wollan, Malia. “Graffiti’s Cozy, Feminine Side.” New York Times. 19 May 2011: E-1. ProQuest Newspapers. Cuesta College. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Comprehensive article profiles artists who are part of the “yarn bombing” phenomenon, including artists who reject the label (“I don’t yarn bomb, I make art”) and a growing commercial demand for better-known artists’ work. 

Compiled in Fall 2011 for Cuesta College LIBT 109 
Library Public Service

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