Knit for your trees: Public art on the cheap


As a board member of my neighborhood association, I can attest to great horror at the cost (and bureaucracy) involved with public art. Even the most innocuous of pieces starts at several thousand dollars, and months and months of hoop-jumping and consensus-building.

Enter knitting. While the solitary art of knitting has always had its community focus (think socks for soldiers), the concept of knitting together has had its resurgence in the past half-decade. This weekend, my friends Larissa and Martin Brown are celebrating the release of their book, Knitalong, which discusses knitting community through public art projects, knitting get-togethers, and (of course) online knitalongs; they write about fiber artists who have created "installations" ranging from the knitted wedding to a lovely project of a thousand knitted "peace cranes." Larissa is in the middle of creating a lovely installation of a hundred knitted cotton dishcloths.

If you can't build it, knit a cozy for it! An AP piece yesterday investigates the phenomenon of knitted trees, a public art trend which seems to range from artful tree sweaters to small-ish tree warmers to whole knitted trees (without the tree underneath). The tiny town of Yellow Springs, Ohio has a tree whose rather garish striped "sleeves" are compared by a local artist to graffiti street art -- but better, presumably, because of the overall lack of defacement (whether or not you think the tree cozies are artistic, they're quite simple to remove with a sharp pair of scissors if the public cries out).

Tree cozies are great projects for the community organization without major funding, or patience. Forget the RFP, the regional arts council board meetings, the high cost of bronze. Grab some spare yarn, some needles, and a couple of crafty friends and pick a tree.

See what Larissa has to say about this project: