An Art Exhibit In Falmouth Builds Community

The knitting and crochet work on trees on Highfield Drive in Falmouth is part of the Portals and Passageways Environmental Art and Sculpture exhibition being curated by Highfield Hall & Gardens this summer. The exhibit is part of a national movement called “yarn-bombingGENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE - The knitting and crochet work on trees on Highfield Drive in Falmouth is part of the Portals and Passageways Environmental Art and Sculpture exhibition being curated by Highfield Hall & Gardens this summer. The exhibit is part of a national movement called “yarn-bombing" and the project has inspired others to participate.

Falmouth has been yarn-bombed.

A fiber art movement, which began in Texas and traveled worldwide, landed in Falmouth last month. Yarn is the medium, with artists knitting installations around trees or other objects.

In other areas, yard bombing, also known as graffiti or urban knitting, has had a guerilla art quality with installations popping up overnight and even prohibited in certain jurisdictions.

In Falmouth, the first pieces were part of the Portals and Passageways exhibit at Highfield Hall, but the project has had sparks of spontaneity with members of the community joining in and installations going up unannounced within the exhibit.

“It’s building, people are very enthusiastic, and everyone is welcome to participate,” Annie H. Dean, director of programs and exhibitions at Highfield Hall said.

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Ms. Dean wanted to explore this movement in Falmouth as a way to highlight art forms traditionally thought of as women’s work in the past. A fiber artist herself, Ms. Dean also draws upon the memories of her grandmothers, one of whom was blind and crocheted, and another who was a quilter, as inspirations for the exhibit.

“Both of whose art forms were unrecognized, underappreciated and considered women’s work at home,” Ms. Dean said.

Yarn-bombing takes on different meanings driven by the artists in that community. For some artists it has been a way to brighten up the urban landscape covering bicycle racks, meters and benches. Magda Sayeg is thought to be the first yarn bomber when she decided knit a cozy to cover the door knob on the front door of her boutique in Texas.

Here in Falmouth it has developed into a project that highlights community.

“It is absolutely visionary and, most important, joyful to have envisioned this and reach out to a community of people to do this,” Jill Neubauer said of Ms. Dean’s choice with this exhibit.

Ms. Neubauer and friends yarn-bombed the sycamore trees in front of her architect office on Depot Avenue, which serves as a gateway to the exhibit up the road at Highfield Hall.

On the night before the exhibit opened in late June, Ms. Neubauer and seven other artists knitted late into the evening.

“For us it became a question of design,” Ms. Neubauer said. “We thought, let’s look at the tree bark and colors of the buildings.”

Each artist committed to a few inches of the knitted sleeves enveloping the sycamore trees. Colors chosen were green, orange and purple. Some of the artists, such as Ms. Neubauer, did not have much experience with fiber art. She learned to crochet and did a two-inch stripe for the project.

“It was a wonderful way to work together,” Ms. Neubauer said. “The stripes gave a structure that everyone had the freedom to work within.”

A group of women from the Emerson house contributed to the exhibit as well. Driving up to Highfield there is a small cluster of trees to the left before the parking lot wrapped in colorful stripes of red, blue, orange and purple. Two red hearts hang from one of the limbs labeled with an “E” and “H” for Emerson House.

Gina T. Camarra, who worked with Ms. Neubauer on her installation, also worked with the Emerson group. She volunteers each week at the Emerson House to teach the women knitting and crocheting.

“Focusing on a simple task, like creating a series of stitches, calms the nerves and eases the mind.” Ms Camarra wrote in an e-mail. “When we installed our work and saw all the trees covered in a tapestry of colorful spontaneity the makers were so proud and happy to be a part of the exhibit and give back to the community in such a cheerful way.”

Ms. Neubauer also identified with the therapeutic aspects of working with others creating art. She became part of the project shortly after the death of her daughter Elizabeth. The joy associated with working on the project with friends has helped her move forward and has been a way to honor her daughter who was very artistic as well.

“Lizzie would have loved this.” Ms. Neubauer said.

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