Touch Me or; A Rebellion Against the Sampler
The assignment called for something made from wood, but I also wanted to make something with crochet. Crochet has long been my craft of choice, but it is not without its disadvantages. Knitting has always been more in vogue, and thus finding patterns that lend themselves better to crochet than to knitting is difficult. This is because crochet is more rigid, consumes more material, and is harder for people to learn. I wanted to create something that took advantage of crochet’s strengths- the fact that it is more rigid, and because each stitch is independent of the last, lends itself better to improvisation. I had dozens of ideas as to what I could make out of crochet, an explosion of color and vibrancy that carried itself over into the final product. While my project started out as an explosion of ideas, the process of constructing it lead it to become part of a greater dialogue about crochet, art and the function of handicrafts in a modern society.
There is a vibrant internet community of people who crochet and, being a college student connected to the online world, I follow several different artists who use crochet in their sculpture. Primarily, The Institute for Figuring’s hyperbolic crochet math models, crochet coral reef, and vortex of trash influenced my idea of what crochet could do. It’s exhibits of crochet choral reefs are full of ruffles, branches, and bulbous branch-offs. Its hyperbolic crochet exhibit features ruffles and uneven surfaces which are strangely hypnotic and fascinating to the eye. The Institute for Figuring made me realize that crochet could be something other than functional art.
The Institute also set up a discourse about what crochet could represent, one which I wanted to respond to. The institute takes advantage of crochet’s unique properties. Like crochet, knitting can increase exponentially, but the number of stitches on the needles quickly becomes unmanageable. Crochet, which each stitch being independent of each other, offered the perfect solution. (The Institute for Figuring website) Like The Institute for Figuring, I wanted to enter into the dialogue of using crochet not only because I loved crochet but because it was the most efficient solution to my problem. After engaging in externalization and objectivaion, I was finally ready to transform “structures of the objective world into structures of the subjective consciousness” (Berger). I wanted to add to the dialogue of sculptural crochet, a term coined by Wunderkammer, who was another influence on the advantages of crochet as a sculptural form and tool (SuperNaturale).
In Peter Berger’s essay “Sacred Canopy” he writes that, “Once produced, the tool has a being of its own that cannot be readily changed by those who would employ it. Indeed, the tool may even enforce the logic of its being upon its users, sometimes in a way that may not be particularly agreeable to them.” Crochet is a tool that forces its logic on its users, making those who want to crochet instead of knit create in a certain way. Oftentimes, people who crochet will avoid making certain items (like socks) because crochet does not lend itself well to the construction of those items (crochet socks don’t have much stretch). Like Berger’s man who creates language and then is subject to its rules, by adopting crochet as my craft I am limiting myself in what I can do. Touch Me reacts against these constraints, attempting to take advantage of the limitations of crochet instead of being restrained by them. Peter Schjeldahl describes in his essay “Deacon’s Faith” a conversation between two men. In reply to a question about what the sculpture is, the second man replies, “it’s art. Look at the way it’s put together.” Much of the meaning in this sculpture is derived from the way it’s put together. Using Dr. Seuss-ian forms and a patchwork construction I attempt to give a sense of movement and also a sense of whimsy- a wish for what could be and a need to reach beyond the obvious. But the bars of wood- rigid and simply colored, restrain it from going beyond the bounds of its form. While the sculpture might reach outside of the form a little, it is too big to fully escape, just as crochet can go beyond its constraints, but not fully escape them. Glaringly bright and clashing colors give it a sense of childishness, but also violence- a frustration with what is, but also an acceptance.
Touch Me, or A Rebellion Against the Sampler is part of a discourse on crochet, a celebration and protest of what crochet means to not only me, but to many other people who crochet, and who are frustrated by the discrimination against the lesser-known handicraft. John Thompson writes, “In spoken discourse meaning resides as much in its disjunction, its truncations and dislocations- in a gesture of the hand, the involuntary twitch of a muscle or a barely perceptible flicker of the eye.” Touch Me attempts to capture some of that gesture, some of the sense of discourse surrounding crochet. It, in the ruffles and rapid increases and decreases, invokes other crochet works, referencing what came before. But it also adds something to the discourse with the incorporation of the wooden cage- an open, airy cage, but a cage nonetheless. It makes gives the limitations of crochet a physical form. While the meaning in this sculpture did not come in its conception, the repetitive process of creating stitch after stitch of crochet gave the sculpture meaning as I worked and utilized the advantages and disadvantages of crochet. Works Cited
The Institute for Figuring. Home. 30 September 2008. < http://theiff.org/main.html>.
YEY! You made it through the paper! So what do you think? Was the sculpture successful or not?
(EDIT 2:30am: In an entirely unrelated note, almost all my links have went blue, and I can't figure out why. They were green and matched my layout before I wrote this post, and now they've changed colors. I'm wondering if this post, which was formatted in word, did something strange to it. Any computer geeks out there who can help me?
EDIT @ 2:40 I got rid of some of the formating and that seems to have fixed the links, but I can't seem to get the text to remain the same in this post. Forgive me, but I really must get back to writing my essay, so I'm going to leave this until later today (after I've slept) to fix)
Remember: My contest is still going on! Writing a comment will get you an entry. Mentioning the contest in your blog will get you TWO entries, just make sure that in your comment you link back to your blog. Thirdly, if you make a halloween-themed object during this month, leave a link on the comments and you get TWO entires. You can comment as much as you want (if you spam my blog, that will get you disqualified), you can make as many halloween themed stuff as you want.