Cozy

I started noticing these cozies around street signs and lampposts in my Baltimore neighborhood last summer.  The crocheted granny square above is my favorite one I’ve seen: its play of bright and mossy colors feels particularly warming and delightful.  And the generations-old granny square pattern (still the one I use most when I make blankets) seems at once deeply evocative and playful.

These fiber pieces carry a range of connotations, though. The one below feels to me distinctly different: grittier and rougher and more challenging.  I don’t know the artist or his/her intentions, but to me this piece is asking us to do a different kind of thinking about the city and its interwoven poverty.

I’ve been reading a bit about yarn bombing, which has an interesting history and trajectory as a street art, a medium for a range of artistic and political expressions.  London’s Knit the City‘s stitched story concept is an especially nuanced collectively-organized graffiti knitting project.

I’m struck by the way this emerging form grants a certain public access to a demographic that traditionally did not have a home in public and street art.  Fiber arts such as knitting and crocheting have so often existed in a domestic sphere.  Their realization as a street form — and a subversive one at that — opens these artists and their work to a potent range of creative possibility.

I really value the way fiber street art interrupts the streetscape, rendering it newly tactile and human, politicized and personal.

Street Art in Progress: Stroudsburg

Around sunset on my recent trip to the Poconos, I spotted these paint buckets in an alley off the main street in Stroudsburg.  The artists were partway through an outlined mural and, apparently, taking a break.  A few hours later, well after dark, I walked back by and spotted them on the scaffolding painting by headlamp.

Two fun glimpses into this artistic progress.

Street Art

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Tatyana Fazlalizadeh recently completed a Stop Telling Women to Smile residency in Baltimore.  She was here for a week at the end of April, and this weekend I headed up to Station North and check out some of the results of her public art project.

Fazlalizadeh’s project in response to street harassment is powerful, and particularly impactful because she places it in the context of the streets where so much of this subtle and not-so-subtle gender bias plays out.  Her residency in Baltimore included two public meetings with women from the neighborhood in addition to the street art she created.

Interestingly, I was stopped twice while walking through Station North to see Fazlalizadeh’s pieces.  Both times by women, the first of whom asked me where I got my walking shoes, and the second of whom exchanged extemporaneous banter with me about the unpredictable weather this May (Neither of us ever knows whether to wear a jacket these days).

There was something light — almost defiantly jubilant, free — in both these conversations, the second of which happened right across the street from this Fazlalizadeh mural.  There’s something to the idea that Fazlalizadeh’s pieces work to reclaim these public spaces.  To re-gender them.  To make them spaces for women to reach out to one another on sidewalks and engage in an entirely different form of discourse.

You can read more about Fazlalizadeh’s Stop Telling Women to Smile residencies in the New York Times.  Or join my friend Jenny and me in coveting her prints on the project’s website.

News from New York

As I get ready for a quick trip up to an event in New York, I thought I’d share two especially awesome pieces of news from the city.

Shakespeare by Request, in which actor Will Barnet performs Shakespeare monologues by request on the New York High Line.  I’d love to see this!

Banksy Sells Original Art in Central Park for $60.  What do you think: Would you have bought a piece if you’d seen it?

I’ve had a lot of fun tracking Banksy’s New York residency online.  Have any of you stumbled across his work in person?  Even if not, you can follow along on the website… and if you haven’t already, be sure to check out the documentary, too.

{Image from banksyny.com}