Crochet Coral Reef @ Museum of Arts and Design

Sep 15 Thu
Exhibition Opens
Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS
By Margaret and Christine Wertheim

and the Institute For Figuring

September 15, 2016 to January 22, 2017

This Fall and Winter the IFF’s exhibition Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas, will be on show at the Museum of Arts and Design in NY. In addition to our giant Coral Forest (an assortment of large-scale yarn and plastic snaky armed sculptures), and a collection of miniature coral Pod Worlds (featuring pieces by some of our most skilled Reef contributors), the show will debut our new Toxic Reef: CO2CA CO2LA Ocean. This black and white and red and silver installation, masterminded by Christine, is composed from delicate yarns, traditional doilies, bridal adornments and video tape. Glitter and plastic medical waste littered on the sand at the feet of toxically elegant coral mounds create a red, white and blue panorama that complements the election season. In addition, the exhibition will showcase a new presentation of The Midden, four-years worth of Margaret and Christine’s domestic plastic trash.

The Museum of Arts and Design, located on Columbus Circle in Midtown Manhattan, is just around the corner from the Trump Tower. We are enthused that during the presidential election, the Crochet Coral Reef will be squaring off against the Donald: eco-fem-arts-collaborationism versus egomaniacal-climate-change-denialism. We hope you’ll be all voting.

About the Exhibition

 Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS celebrates the tenth anniversary of the “Crochet Coral Reef” (2005–present), an ongoing project by sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim and their Institute For Figuring. Mixing crocheted yarn with plastic trash, the work fuses mathematics, marine biology, feminist art practices, and craft to produce large-scale coralline landscapes, both beautiful and blighted. At once figurative, collaborative, worldly, and dispersed, the “Crochet Coral Reef” offers a tender response to dual calamities facing marine life: climate change and plastic trash.

With 2016 the hottest year on record, living reefs everywhere are under stress. Into these arenas of color huge areas of whiteness now intrude; bleaching events signal that corals are sick and dying. In 2005, in response to devastation of the Great Barrier Reef in their native Australia, the Wertheims began to crochet a simulation of healthy and ailing reefs. Using the algorithmic codes of crochet, the sisters produce crenellated forms that are representations of hyperbolic geometry, which is also manifest in the undulating structures of corals, kelps, and other reef organisms. The Wertheims and their collaborators, a core group of “Crochet Reefers” around the world, fabricate an ever-evolving artificial ecology.

Mixing environmental science with fantastically inflected science fiction, the Crochet Coral Reef calls us into what scholar Donna Haraway has called “a time of response-ability” and sisterhood with the sea.

Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS, is curated for the Museum of Arts and Design by MAD Assistant Curator Samantha De Tillio.

MAD Exhibition webpage


Core Reef Contributors included in this exhibition:
Helen Bernasconi (Australia), Orla Breslin (Ireland), Anita Bruce (United Kingdom), Gina Cacciolo (CA), Jane Canby (AZ), Chicago Satellite Reefers (IL), Tane Clark (AZ), Pate Conaway (IL), Barbara Van Elsen (NY), Dagma Frinta (NY), Mieko Fukuhara (Japan), Lucinda Ganderton (United Kingdom), Vanessa Garcia (CA), Sally Giles (IL), Kathleen Greco (PA), Beverly Griffiths (United Kingdom), Evelyn Hardin (TX), Chantal Horeau (CA), Irish Satellite Reefers (Ireland), Gunta Jekabsone (Latvia), Helle Jorgensen (Australia), Siew Chu Kerk (NY), Lynn Latta (CA), Lucia LaVilla-Havelin (TX), Nancy Lewis (VT), Irene Lundgaard (Ireland), Anna Mayer (CA), Heather McCarren (CA), Vonda N. McIntyre (WA), Sharon Menges (AZ), Anitra Menning (CA), Marianne Midelburg (Australia), Arlene Mintzer (NY), Una Morrison (Ireland), Clare O’Callaghan (CA), Sue Von Ohlsen (PA), David Orozco (CA), Rebecca Peapples (MI), Shari Porter (CA), Jill Schrier (NY), Nadia Severns (NY), Christina Simons (CA), Diana Simons (CA), Sarah Simons (CA), Pamela Stiles (NY), Ildiko Szabo (United Kingdom), Ann Wertheim (Australia), Barbara Wertheim (Australia), Elizabeth Wertheim (Australia), Katherine Wertheim (Australia), Jennifer White (AZ), Ying Wong (CA), Jemima Wyman (CA), Nancy Youhros (AZ), and Theresa Bowen (NY), Matthew Adnams (UAE), Suha Malqua (UAE). Plus traditional crafters and unknown Chinese factory workers. Also on show is the Latvian Pod by Tija Viksna and the Latvian Reef crafters.

Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS is part of MAD Transformations, a series of six exhibitions presented this fall by the Museum of Arts and Design that address artists who have transformed and continue to transform our perceptions of traditional craft mediums.

The IFF’s work for Crochet Coral Reef: TOXIC SEAS is generously supported by a grant from the Opaline Fund of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.