The David Weinberg Collection
300 West Superior Street
This exhibition is presented in association with the Chicago Humanities Festival.
"Indefinite in number, size and form is the character of the plant, although a law lies at the basis of all this." Lorenz Oken, 1824.
Photos by Aaron and Cassandra Ott.
As a sideline to the Institute's Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project, we have also been crocheting a cactus garden, a wooly invocation of the desert that has been quietly growing more or less of its own free will. In Fall 2007, in association with the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Cactus Garden is showing at the David Weinberg Collection, as part of the exhibition "Visions of Concern." We are honored to be in the company here of other delicate, environmentally inspired works by Tara Donovan, Maya Lin and David Opdyke. "Visions of Concern" has itself been inspired by the theme of this year's Humanities Festival, which is climate change. Like coral reefs, deserts are fragile environments whose denizens, though often spiny or poisonous, may nonetheless be highly sensitive to environmental disruption. The Crochet Cactus Garden is curated by IFF Directors Margaret and Christine Wertheim; "Visions of Concern" is curated by Aaron Ott.
Like their living brethren, crochet cactii are found in a dazzling variety of species, with each individual crafter bringing to bear on the age-old patterns of nature unique asthetic powers. All the forms exhibited here have been inspired by the insights of "hyperbolic crochet" discovered by Cornell mathematician Dr Daina Taimina, yet each contributor has found ways to express within these algorithmic strictures their own expressive designs. In Cedar Hill, Texas, Evelyn Hardin discovered the delights of felting, using variegated soy yarns to produce undulating forms of transcendent loveliness; in Bendigo, Australia, Marianne Midelburg combed thrift stores, turning discarded wools into pebbly piles; in Culver City, Sarah Simons, a master of the floret form, concocted an entire taxonomy of cactus flowers by mixing together mercerized cottons in subtly complimentary hues. In Los Angeles Anitra Menning reigns as the queen of vegetable architectonics, crafting swooping marvels at once fuzzy and firm, while David Orozco (proprietor of That Yarn Store in Echo Park) specializes in soft flanges of green and grey, a predisposition shared by Spring Pace in the wilderness of Topanga Canyon. In Bonnie Doon in rural Australia, Helen Bernasconi, proprietress of a sheep farm, spins and dyes her own wool before painstakingly designing (with spreadsheets no less) mathematically precise clusters evoking the geometry of pincushion cactii. Although none of these forms were created to be together, to us at the IFF, they seemed destined for one another - when we came to curate this exhibition the Garden literally grew itself.
IFF Crochet Cactus Garden Crafters:
Christine Wertheim (Los Angeles, CA)
Margaret Wertheim (Los Angeles, CA)
Sarah Simons (Culver City, CA)
Evelyn Hardin (Cedar Hill, TX)
Marianne Midelburg (Bengido, Australia)
Helen Bernasconi (Bonnie Doon, Australia)
Anitra Menning (Los Angeles, CA)
Spring Pace (Topanga Canyon, CA)
David Orozco (Echo Park, CA).
The Crochet Cactus Project has been assisted by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
With sincerest thanks to: Lawrence Weschler and Amanda Burr at the Chicago Humanities Festival.