Crochet Coral Reef's Denver Satellite Reef will grow at the DAM's Spun -- and you can help
A work constantly in progress, the Crochet Coral Reef is an installation of ten textile pieces at the Denver Art Museum, part of its summer exhibition, Spun: Adventures In Textiles. Through the project's Denver Satellite Reef, museum visitors have a chance to contribute to the installation directly, by coming in any Saturday or Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and crocheting a piece of the reef.
"As we were kind of exploring different installations that would relate to this big textile initiative that has been spearheaded by the re-installation of our own textile collection, the Crochet Coral Reef was one of those things that popped up on the radar," says Jenna Madison, manager of studio and artists programs at the DAM. "We contacted the Institute for Figuring [the Crochet Coral Reef organization started by Margaret and Christine Wertheim in California], and got the ball rolling about when and if we could get the pieces installed onsite."
The Crochet Coral Reef is both an environmental and educational project involving a global community, everyone from expert crafters to beginning crocheters, all led by the Wertheim sisters. The Denver Satellite Reef is just one of many offshoots, which have been installed in New York, Chicago, London, Dublin and other cities around the world.
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Interactive exhibits aren't out of the ordinary at the DAM, but the idea that visitors have the ability to directly contribute to the reef is something unique to this project. "One of the things that really struck us as an institution -- and me particularly as an educator -- was this community connection," says Madison. For other site-specific reefs, she explains, global contributions come in and the satellite reefs are built in parts. But this satellite has been created to be exclusively Denver.
"What we decided to do was a little bit different -- we wanted the Denver Satellite Reef to be Denver-specific. So rather than inviting folks from all over the world, which is where Christine and Margaret's network has expanded to, we got our own core group of contributors to start our reef," says Madison. And now that group will be expanded: On Saturdays and Sundays, anyone of any knitting skill level is invited to learn the hyperbolic crochet process and be a part of the summer-long project.
Pieces of the reef came directly from the Wertheim sisters, but the museum has also selected a group of local crafters to learn the process and be on hand to teach it to the public. "We've done several workshops with our core folks, and it has been amazing," says Madison. "They will continue to come in on Friday evenings when the museum is open late and activate the space and work with the public."