Recently I was reading an article about yarnbombing in The New York Times. Public art is far from a new thing, but it is really great to see knitted graffiti getting more attention. What is it about this art form that people are so drawn to?
I would say that the one thing that I think about more than any other thing is how I am able to improve my community through small gestures. I love public art for the sense of community and pride it evokes. When I install a piece that I’ve spent hours upon hours planning and creating, its like I’m giving a little gift to my neighbors. My heart bursts with excitement when I see someone stop and look at an installation and smile. Life can be really monotonous, robotic, and discouraging at times and I think everyone needs a reminder that there is beauty in the world.
For these reasons and some more personal, I was terribly discouraged to read this section of The New York Times article quoting artist Agata Oleksiak:
“I don’t yarn bomb, I make art,” said Agata Oleksiak, 33, an artist in New York who has been enshrouding humans, bicycles and swimming pools in neon-colored crochet since 2003. Last Christmas Eve, Olek, as she prefers to be called, blanketed the “Charging Bull” statue near Wall Street in a pink and purple cozy, and uploaded a video of it to YouTube. “If someone calls my bull a yarn bomb, I get really upset,” she added.
Olek, whose work has been shown in museums and galleries worldwide, considers yarn bombing to be the trite work of amateurs and exhibitionists.
“Lots of people have aunts or grandmas who paint,” she said. “Do you want to see that work in the galleries? No. The street is an extension of the gallery. Not everyone’s work deserves to be in public.”
Actually, I would love to see some grandma paintings! I’m not sure why Olek believes she has earned the right to adorn the streets over every other person in society, but I wholeheartedly disagree with her that the street is an extension of the gallery. The street belongs to all of us. And art is for everyone, not just the elite. There can never be too much creativity in this world!
To counter-act this negativity I’d like to share with you a group of people working to save a mural on Cherokee Street in St. Louis, MO. The mural was approved as a short-term project by the city and is scheduled to be removed this week. Painted on an vacant property, it has had major positive impact on the neighborhood.
"…it has brought life to a blighted property on a block that has been under-utilized for years. This spring, a number of new businesses have opened up on Cherokee, and the mural has been part of this accelerating revival."
"Public art attracts visitors, makes people happy, and is one of the most cost-effective ways to revitalize communities. It’s a win win win - good for the artists, good for business owners, good for residents. Public art helps cut down on crime because it makes people proud of their neighborhood."
"We would like to save this mural. But more importantly, we want to request and encourage as much public art in St. Louis as possible. Every boarded up building is a canvas we can use to spread the joy and possibilities of our city; let’s not throw this opportunity away. It is our hope that the stencil wall is just the start of an expanding urban gallery along Cherokee Street."
This is what its all about! Its so great to see the community coming together in understanding of how important public art is. See their facebook page for ways you can help save the mural.
To wrap this up I’d just like to say that this world would be a much better place to live in if we all were a little more encouraging of people instead of deeming them “undeserving”. To anyone who wants to join: lets use the city as our canvas and spread as much joy as possible!