Crochet Artist Will Cover all 50 States with Inspirational Women

Have you heard of yarn bombing? If so, you probably know about New York City-based multimedia crochet artist Agata “Olek” Oleskiak. She is most well known for her experimental yarn creations. Before the November 2016 election, she hung a 16′ x 46′ crocheted banner of Hilary Clinton over a New Jersey highway. Other yarn bombs by Olek include covering the Wall Street bull sculpture with a crocheted pink and purple camouflage skin and crocheting a giant fake edition of the New York Times.

Crochet Artist: Olek works on a piece as part of an art festival in New Delhi, India. Photo by Mint/Getty.

Olek works on a piece as part of an art festival in New Delhi, India. Photo by Mint/Getty.

Her new project, called “Love Across the USA,” will spread 50 yarn portraits across the United States, each of a woman from that state who has changed history in some way. She plans to invite community members to contribute to the portrait.

Olek’s inspiration for the project came from the social media storm of photos and videos of women putting “I Voted” stickers on Susan B. Anthony’s grave during the 2016 election. It occurred to her that by 2020, women will have only held the right to vote for 100 years.

Olek began this project with a 32-foot mural of Harriet Tubman in Auburn, New York. She put out a call on social media to both experienced and beginning crocheters. Over 200 volunteers joined her at a crochet workshop so she could teach them basic skills. Red Heart Yarns donated all materials, and each volunteer created a 2′ x 2′ square following Olek’s pattern. Then Olek put them together to form a giant portrait of Harriet Tubman that reads “Slavery is the next thing to hell,” which now hangs outside the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, New York. A portrait of Susan B. Anthony is in the works.

—Jenna


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