If you happened to be driving past the LUX Center for the Arts last week, you might have seen trees and bike racks covered in colorful yarn. That was because of 45 University of Nebraska-Lincoln students.
“Yarnbombing” is a form of art that covers urban areas with colorful displays of yarn. After street artist Jessie Hemmons spoke to various classes at UNL, Sandra Williams, associate professor of art, decided to bring yarnbombing to her classroom.
Hemmons is known for her use of yarnbombing to put a spotlight on issues related to feminism, misogyny and interpersonal violence.
According to Williams, the crochet project was offered as extra credit to her in-person and online classes of Street Art: Visual Voice in the Urban Environment.
“Because of COVID, I wanted something where students could participate yet remain safe, but still be able to come together to create something collaboratively,” Williams said in an email.
William’s class focuses on emotions and creativity. She looks for artists to bring to her class that focus on those same principles. She said she wanted to give her class the opportunity to connect to Hemmon’s work beyond the lecture.
After a few weeks, students created over 400 granny squares even though Williams said she was only expecting about 50.
“I asked the LUX Center for the Arts if we could yarnbomb the tree in front of the building. The LUX has always been a space that values nonconformist voices, and they said yes,” Williams said.
Because there were many patches leftover, Williams is stitching the rest of the pieces together.
Kathryn Fiala, undeclared freshman, helped create and put up the art.
“I loved being there and helping,” Fiala said. “My favorite part of this kind of art is that you can really tell how many people were involved just by looking at it. All the squares were unique and you can tell how much time and patience went into it.”
Despite the popularity of the project, Williams doesn’t think she will do it again due to the amount of time invested in the project. However, she hopes to bring many more artists to inspire her classes.
“We will bring other artists in the future, probably more traditional mural artists, and then students can volunteer to be a part of creative placemaking that way,” Williams said. “Artists I hope to bring in the future are Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, Ana Marietta, Bear Champ and Dan Witz.”
According to Williams, some students took the project beyond the assignment.
“One said he was making a tote; a young woman mentioned she made a blanket for her dad. Honestly, it is relaxing,” Williams said. “ But the real value came into play for the students that installed it because then one gets to witness psychogeography as the environment is being changed. Seeing and experiencing the public interacting with this unexpected act, and how happy and excited each passersby would get.”