Oklahoma’s Big, Beautiful Yarn Bomb

The Unbearable Absence of Landscape in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Steven Michaels Photography.

The Unbearable Absence of Landscape, a community yarn bomb in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Steven Michaels Photography.

Yarn bomb usually brings to mind smallish, fairly covert knitted or crocheted swatches that appear in public places. A form of transient graffiti, it’s become fairly common to see bright red scarves wrapped around urban birches or granny squares stitched to signposts. These mementos from fellow yarn lovers always brighten my day.

Over 350 knitters across Oklahoma came together this year to create one giant yarn bomb in Tulsa entitled The Unbearable Absence of Landscape. The project was coordinated by 108|Contemporary, a community arts organization and gallery in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, with lead artist Romy Owens. Knitters across the state were invited to submit 8″ x 8″ knitted squares which were combined to create a knitted landscape image that covers the facade of the 108|Contemporary building. The work was “inspired by our current screen-based culture and the sprawl of urbanization; the pixilated landscape represents the physical absence as well as our digital obsession and disconnect with nature. From a distance, the installation appears to be an abstracted image of a prairie landscape, in essence making the gallery a part of the skyline.”

Knitters across Oklahoma submitted knitted pieces in a range of blues and greens. Photo: Steven Michaels Photography.

Knitters across Oklahoma submitted knitted pieces in a range of blues and greens. Photo: Steven Michaels Photography.

Owens connected with the legion of knitters primarily through social media. She said in a recent interview with Explore Tulsa, “In fact, I would say that without Facebook, this project wouldn’t have been possible.” Knitters were enthusiastically welcomed to participate in the endeavor and were given pattern instructions and yarn requirement information. All of the knitting was accomplished from February to August, and then about fifty people spent a combined one thousand hours seaming the squares into place. And how does one drape a building in knitted swatches? Watch a time-lapse video of the installation process.

News and images of the project have been swirling around the Internet. Guilds such as the Five Sisters Spinning Guild, a group of enthusiastic fiber artists who meet each month in Lawton, Oklahoma, were excited to see their contributions to the finished work.

If you are in the Tulsa area, stop by 108|Contemporary to see this important community installation. The Unbearable Absence of Landscape is on view until January 24, 2016.

108|Contemporary, Romy Owens, and an army of knitters made it happen! Photo: Steven Michaels Photography.

108|Contemporary, Romy Owens, and several hundred knitters made it happen! Photo: Steven Michaels Photography.

 

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