Mending the Landscape
Crochet artist shapes projects to soften the jagged edges of New York City
The tendril of crochet splayed between razor wire is an incongruous sight, transforming the urban landscape by creating a focal point of beauty. Crochet artist Crystal Gregory, who was inspired to take up crochet by her grandmother, saw in the sharp edges of New York City the opportunity to underscore the city’s beauty. “The harshness and violence of the material city, the architecture, and the roads are all so beautiful,” Crystal says. “I started using crochet to mend the landscape. I fill in void areas by using cast-iron fences, park benches, and razor wire as my loom.”
As she creates her art, Crystal’s actions develop a deeper meaning for her. “Labor, handwork, home, repetition, and pattern all play key roles in my ideas when I’m creating art. Crochet evokes messages of familiarity and the handmade. I am interested in using this charged material in my work because of the human connection we have with it.”
Crystal sees how placing domestic objects in urban areas can challenge society’s connection with the craft, and in doing so, she seeks to challenge ideas about the art form, gender, and class. During an installation titled On the Fence, a piece she created around the perimeter of a New York City public school, Crystal sought to call people’s attention to traditional ideas of craft and work and then turn their perception of it upside down. To underscore this idea, she crocheted on the same schedule as the workers doing construction on the building.
Crystal’s works are not only installations, but also live performances, as she uses crochet to build community connections through dialogue with the people she encounters during an installation. “One of my favorite memories,” this crochet artist says, “is of two tough construction workers. One pointed out a girl knitting on a fence and the other corrected him, saying, ‘No, that is a crochet hook—she’s crocheting.’ He explained to his friend in detail the differences between the two crafts, and I smiled for the rest of the afternoon. I feel the installations are a performance, and I am the thread connecting the public to my work.”
Like any good crocheter, Crystal is constantly honing her skills. Currently, she’s learning how to do Irish crochet, in hopes of using it in a large-scale installation.
To see more of Crystal’s work or to see video of her in action, visit www.crystalgregory.org.
Featured Image by Amber Gregory
SHARON ZIENTARA is a former assistant editor for Interweave Crochet. Besides yarn, she loves kittens wearing pants and listening to NPR to the point of excess.