Artists Bring Yarn Bombing to South EndNovember 1, 2017 7:06 am
With winter approaching and the temperatures dropping, one South End group is adding warmth and coziness to the neighborhood through yarn bombing, an installation of public art that uses knitting, crocheting, pom poms and other yarn creations to adorn trees and infrastructure. You may have seen previous yarn bomb installations along the Rail Trail: on trees between the Ashton and the Front Porch Sunday lot, and along chain link fencing near the back of Atherton Mill. The idea is to add color and whimsy to unexpected places. As a part of a South End Creative Lab Microgrant, UMAR, a nonprofit organization providing programs for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is leading a yarn bombing beautification project to add fun to some of the functional parts of the city.
“It has a sentimental appeal and ends up spreading joy,” says Alex Cruz, the Charlotte art center manager for UMAR. “That’s very much reflective of what our guys do.”
UMAR provides residential, vocational and cultural enrichment opportunities for adults with disabilities across Western North Carolina and opened its location on South Tryon in early 2017. At the South End location, UMAR focuses on teaching art and hosts day programs for about fifty people each week. When hearing about South End Creative Lab, the staff at UMAR thought yarn bombing would be a creative way to share one member artist’s work with the community.
“Nikki had seen me knitting and I started her with crocheting because it has one needle,” says Brianna Gardner, an arts counselor at UMAR. “She’s really flourishing with it.” Using Nikki’s work along with support from other artists and help from community volunteers, UMAR hopes to have eight yarn bomb installations up by the end of October.
“The locations that we’ve chosen vary from trees around our community to sign posts or the bottom of street sign posts,” says Gardner. UMAR has picked out fifteen spots they’d like to yarn bomb, including a mailbox, fences and, as Gardener describes, “this weird crooked yellow pipe.”
The installations will start by UMAR’s Art on South Tryon and lead up Griffith Street toward the Light Rail, which is how many participants access UMAR’s South End location.
“The Light Rail has been really helpful for our participants because they can’t drive themselves,” says Cruz. “It widens their reach, it widens their circle and it widens their community which widens their potential.”
Creating art gives UMAR’s participants an opportunity to connect with their community and bring something positive to their neighborhood. Along with the yarn bombing project, UMAR artists share their art by selling their work in a shop at the front of the South End studio. UMAR’s art programs and participation in South End Creative Lab gives participants an opportunity to be creative and learn new skills, but also impacts other areas of their lives.
“It’s a chance for them to experience heightened self-esteem and self-confidence and be proud of themselves,” says Cruz. “Little things like this mean a lot to us.”