On Elizabeth Street in Inman Park, cozy-looking multicolored yarn hugs a pole with a sign gently warning "Butterfly Crossing." Yarn bombing, or grandma graffiti, as such site-specific fabric formations are also known, has become increasingly popular in cities such as New York and Los Angeles. But the trend has only recently begun popping up locally.
From noon to 3 p.m. on Sat., June 11 in Freedom Park, fiber artists will join together for International Yarn Bombing Day and World Wide Knit in Public Day. Local arts collaborative the Sixfold Collective will put up themed work for the day, while other artists piece together improvised collaborations that will cover the benches, trees and light poles on the south side of Freedom Parkway for one month. Sixfold Collective members Susan Ker-Seymer and Terri Dilling, as well as Leisa Rich and Suzi Gough of the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance discuss their extreme knitting, its connection to graffiti and how they hope to challenge perceptions of knitting.
What do you think is most people's impression of knitting, crocheting and other forms of fiber arts?
Terri Dilling: Traditionally there has been a separation between art and craft. However, I think those boundaries are much more blurred now, and contemporary artists are using all kinds of materials and techniques and putting it out in the world as art.
Leisa Rich: There is still the perception of it as not being a valid art form, especially in Atlanta, although that is also changing. Yarn bombing is just one of the ways that this art form can reach the masses and gain ground as a valid artistic discipline.
What's the theme of the work that will be part of the June 11 yarn bomb?
Susan Ker-Seymer: The theme of [the Sixfold Collective's] current work has to do with nets, and the making of nets as a community experience and also a metaphorical practice. We are all approaching our net making from a different perspective, using a variety of materials and techniques.
Suzi Gough: [Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance's] contribution will be a spontaneous work incorporating small creations in any fiber technique. Participants can bring premade items or work on the spot. Everyone is welcome to participate — all ages, all abilities, all fiber techniques — so the end result will be a joyous mix of whatever we have to work with.
What is your opinion of the relationship of graffiti and yarn bombing?
LR: I'm pro-graffiti. It can be both positive and negative. Yarn bombing is more a happy statement, more socially encompassing and less about the self than graffiti.
SG: Traditional graffiti is about marking territory or expressing social and political messages. [Yarn bombing] is about making people smile, making them look closer, making them take an interest in their surroundings and about personalizing public spaces.
Would you like to see more yarn bombs in Atlanta? Have you seen any?
LR: You bet. Haven't seen any. There still isn't a fiber arts presence here, the High Museum hasn't had it, even the smaller galleries haven't presented it.