Yarn Theory: Knitting, Crochet, Math and Science

April 25 – May 17

Curated by Martha Lewis

Artists: Ted Ashton, Emily Barletta, Sarah-Marie Belcastro, Nancy Cohen, Rita Cohen, and Anschel Schaffer-Cohen, Christine Domanic, Kate Fenker, Amanda Gale, Miyuki Kawamura, Martha Lewis, Margaret Oomen, Gail Rothschild, Daina Taimina, Daniel Yuhas

yarn theory
yarn theory

RECEPTION: April 25, 5 – 7pm

PS122 Gallery is pleased to present Yarn Theory, an exhibition which highlights the vibrant and deep interrelationship between the sciences, mathematics, crocheting and knitting. From mathematicians looking for clear and visual ways to model their theorem to home-knitters and artists looking to create unique sculptural objects, the world of contemporary yarn work is rife with cross-pollination between the disciplines. The explosion in the popularity of knitting and crochet has yielded an interest in using the medium to go far beyond sweaters, socks, and wearables into the worlds of geometry, biology, natural sciences, and to push the medium’s sculptural boundaries.

Highlighting the work of some of today’s most interesting practitioners, Yarn Theory juxtaposes installations and art objects made with a scientific or mathematical basis as a starting point, and with mathematical models and items made explicitly to explain or clarify abstract concepts, which end up being compelling aesthetic forms unto themselves. Because of their incremental structure, the crafted shapes often mimic growth systems found in nature. Today’s needle workers, many of who are also scientists and mathematicians professionally, are exploring such correlations.

This exhibit contradicts the popular notion — recently made famous by Larry Summers, when he was acting president of Harvard University* — that women are not as good at math and science as men are. Knitting and crocheting, traditionally seen as an appropriate occupation for women and girls, intrinsically requires much calculation to create the expansions and contractions necessary to model a garment from a piece of yarn.

Even in its most traditional or most intuitive, yarn work processes such as colored patterning, lace-making, sweaters, etc. all make ample use of ideas and problems which share common ground within the fields of math and science. Both knit and crochet offer a way to make flexible surfaces, increase and decrease evenly and cleanly, forms which can fold into themselves, become endless loops, or spiral out exponentially.

The internet has provided a unique forum for interacting that has upped the ante in the exploration of the possibilities inherent in transforming a strand of fiber into an object. The level of quality, dialog and experimentation being displayed on-line are exceptional. This exhibit seeks to draw on that richness and to bring some of this profound and exciting world into our own community. Included in Yarn Theory are artists, scientists and practicing mathematicians. The work exhibited here references the worlds of geology, geography, topological mathematics, fractals, geometry, animal behavior testing, probability, human and marine biology, and physics. Yarn Theory seeks to contradict the idea that math and science are boring, un-sensual, and not enjoyable. The exhibit focuses on the connection between the calculated and theoretical, and it’s visual, tangible and tactile incarnation: the knitted and crocheted sculptural object.

In keeping with the social nature of many knitting groups and the informative nature of this exhibition, PS122 Gallery will present a series of workshops, classes and knitting circles in conjunction with the show. For information and updates please see our blog: ps122gallery.wordpress.com.

Guerrilla Knitting Project: “9th Street Fence,” organized by Karen Eubel Hallway Project: Robyn Love, “The Knitted Mile”