Museum gets yarn-bombed
CELEBRATED BUT SECRETIVE yarn-bomber StreetColor adheres her festive piece to the poll outside the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art as Christine Dunn (left), the museum’s intern, lends a hand.
They call her StreetColor, her identity shrouded in mystery, as is the way for many artists who use the street as their canvas. No, she is not spray-painting her moniker under a freeway overpass – her medium of choice is considerably more delicate – something you might find in your grandmother’s sewing kit.
She is a yarn-bomber, part of a growing movement of artists who, with knitting needles in hand, cover everyday items, transforming it from mundane to magnificent. On Friday, she was weaving her magic at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, who invited the Berkeley-based artist to create whatever she wanted in celebration of their current exhibition “Color Theory: The Use of Color in Contemporary Art.” The result was a kaleidoscope of textiles, in all hues and shades, climbing up table legs and lamp-poles.
“Without asking permission, you can put a bunch of knitting up and it becomes this fun, happy space,” she said. “It’s a joyous thing.”
StreetColor has always been an artist, but it wasn’t until 2010 that she made her first yarn-bomb and quickly became addicted. The renegade aspect of street art paired with the communal nature of knitting spoke to her.
“I was so fascinated to make something and interact with people right away about it,” she said, explaining that artists typically work alone and aren’t present when people view their pieces in a gallery or museum.
StreetColor goes beyond the average yarn-bomber, she spins all her own yarn, and dyes it herself with a palate of 130 to 140 colors. She doesn’t, however, always knit all her own pieces – it’s too time consuming and she knows of too many people who enjoy being part of her process.
“I get a lot of people asking if they can do this with me,” she said. “That’s something about knitting, it connects everybody. Your grandmother does it. It doesn’t have the elitism of other art.”
She yarn-bombs fulltime, “if you can imagine something so insane,” she said, mostly on her own dime. She has yarn-bombed all across the Bay Area, as well as outside the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, along with North Carolina and Tennessee. “It turns out that street poles across the United States and even in Paris are all seven-and-a-half-inches around,” she said matter-of-factly. “I did a BART seat once and I just spent all day riding around BART measuring every dimension of that bench.”
In addition to doing it herself, she documents the yarn-bomb movement happening across the globe at her blog streetcolor.wordpress.com and on her Facebook page. She is particularly moved when yarn-bombing is used to make a statement, such as people who use the art form to protest military actions.
“It’s like the flowers in the guns,” she said, referring to the famous photo of a Vietnam war protestor placing a flower in the barrel of a military policeman’s gun.
Her work can be seen outside the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art at 551 Broadway. Café Gaga at the museum serves cafes and pastries beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.