University Museum yarn bombing begins in October

Many pieces of art decorate the spacious SIUE campus, but many also fade into the background as everyday objects – not necessarily attracting the attention of passersby. But some of those pieces will come to life with vibrant cloths, patterns and fabric patches.

Photo courtesy of Noelle Norris

The University Museum is spearheading a yarn bombing event to raise awareness of campus art, with the first “yarn bomb” installation beginning Oct. 12. Yarn bombing, according to University Museum graduate student Noelle Norris, is a form of graffiti that is non-destructive and interactive for the community.

According to the Yarn Bombing Los Angeles website, yarn bombing is “a relatively recent form of street art that employs colorful displays of knits or crochet and other fiber material instead of paint in public space.”

Norris, a knitter, said she proposed yarn bombing at SIUE to University Museum director Eric Barnett “as something fun and interactive [the University Museum] could do with the campus.”

The Sullivan columns, located between Lovejoy Library and Peck Hall, will be the first piece to be yarn bombed, according to Norris.

The final product used to “bomb” the columns will consist of small pieces of donated fabrics that are sewn together to surround the column, according to Norris.

“It’s like a little sweater for the column,” Norris said.

The number of sculptures that will be yarn bombed, according to Norris, will depend on how many donations the University Museum receives. However, Norris said only sculptures the University Museum owns will be “bombed.”

University Museum staff will perform the yarn bombing, according to Norris, unless the museum receives “massive amounts of donations,” in which case museum staff will ask for volunteers.

Norris said the yarn bombing event coincides with a symposium University Museum Director Eric Barnett is planning.

“We’re going to have an art awareness event…,” Norris said. “It’s just bringing attention to the art that already exists on campus because, let’s face it, that kind of stuff just fades into the background.”

Barnett said members of a group called the Midwest Painters visited SIUE individually throughout the summer to create visual responses to the Jean Helion painting in Lovejoy Library and they will return to SIUE in October to present their visual responses to the painting.

Though the visual response presentation and yarn bombing will occur around the same time, Barnett said they are not directly related. However, the yarn bombing, according to Barnett, should accomplish two goals – heighten aware of campus art and have fun.

“It’s so important that people get some sort of education in the visual arts, and we put the stuff out there, but people don’t always pay attention to things,” Barnett said of the yarn bombing event. “So maybe if we change something, it’ll bring attention to it.”

Donations of baby blankets, afghans, afghan squares, yarn and other cloth materials can be made to the University Museum. People can also donate their time, according to Norris, to help sew the materials together. The University Museum will also hold lunch hour knit and crochet events on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the fall semester. For more information, contact the University Museum at 618.650.2997.

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