Public Engagement When Creative Expression and Community Support Combine!

Posted by Knitters Pride on August 22nd, 2023

It’s no surprise to learn that a lot of fiber artists are community-spirited and agents of change. Many contribute their time to sharing their art and to teaching. Some go online and donate their energies to educating and reaching out to others. Consider the effect that the online network “Ravelry” has had on uniting people from the 4 corners of the earth — at little or no cost to those who join. Often these efforts are lifelines since they connect kindred spirits and enable friendships and communities to grow and flourish.

Today we are writing about artists whose work inspires their neighborhoods and serves to create awareness of the diversity and beauty of their special corner of the world. To say these people offer a gift to their communities is an understatement. They ARE the gift and we all benefit.

Naomi Lawrence of East Harlem, NYC, is a fiber artist who resides in East Harlem with her family. Naomi works with crochet tools and yarns to create oversized 2-Dimensional crochet flowers, trees and wildlife for outdoor exhibition.

Originally from England, Naomi studied Floral Design at the University of Arts London and worked as a freelance events florist for some of London’s top floral designers.

Artists with Impact

Her first installation in New York, Blue Iris, captivated the community of East Harlem, where she lives with her family. Each 2 dimensional crocheted flower takes a few months to create. After that, they are stitched onto the chain link fences that surround the selected playgrounds or gathering places in Harlem. Since the plan is to leave them up for at least a year, they are washed and freshened up as needed and then reinstalled as part of the urban landscape.

Naomi says, “I see myself as a ‘yarn bomber,’ and a street artist who covers unusual public spots, like fences, with colorful touches that bring a smile to the face of people who happen upon them.

Public engagement is the goal of each installation. The works become part of the urban landscape, and, as seen here, a meeting spot for friends and neighbors of all ages.

In 2020, Naomi was nominated as a “Hero of the Pandemic” for her community art and work by Community Works and New Heritage Theatre Group. You can follow her at @naomirag and you can read more about her here: www.naomirag.com

Alexandra Kehayoglou

Alexandra Kehayoglou (born 1981) is an Argentinian textile artist. She is best known for her large-scale fiber works which address topics of climate change, sustainable living and eco-responsibility.

Alexandra was born into a family of rug designers and textile artists. Her method of hand-tufting her works of art links her to her family of rug manufacturers. Her subject matter is the Argentinean landscape that she calls home. She often travels to new locations to research and study the landscapes she depicts. Her work represents places that have been impacted by climate change or damaged by human activity.

Her artistic efforts became so well known for their call to environmental awareness that she caught the attention of internationally acclaimed fashion designer, Dries Van Noten. For Paris Fashion Week in 2015, he ordered a tufted rug from Kehayoglou that covered the entire stage and served as a catwalk for the models who presented his collection.

  1. The carpet was an abstraction of the Argentinian landscape where she resides. That exposure catapulted her name into public notice and the resultant commissions have put her on the map as a major fiber artist with an environmental focus.

Here is a quote, as reported in Wallpaper Magazine, after the installation had received worldwide notice and acclaim: “It was beautiful to see the natural landscape that it created, and the way it complemented this vast universe of patterns, colors and juxtapositions of textures that Van Noten created.”

2. North of Buenos Aires, Argentina runs the Raggio creek, whose banks have been dramatically and suddenly altered by human activity — its greenery stripped and its natural topography transfigured.

Kehayoglou’s work stands witness to the altered landscape — a perfect proxy for what no longer exists. In reflecting on the effects of human activity on the natural world,

No Longer Creek invites visitors to experience an environment where our activities leave no trace. In this space, Kehayoglou reveals our ties to a vanishing landscape.

Both Naomi Lawrence and Alexandra Kehayoglou are representatives of artists whose sensitivity to their world, local and global, informs their art. Their artistry affects those who come into contact with it, creates impressions, and, hopefully, triggers reactions that lead to awareness and change. In doing so, they honor their inherited talents and all of us.

1. Rapport, Mariana, Wallpaper Magazine, https://tinyurl.com/53wwj6a6

2. https://alexandrakehayoglou.com/No-Longer-Creek

Source: https://medium.com/@knitterspride/public-engagement-when-creative-expression-and-community-support-combine-5c12836d9f16

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Knitters Pride
Joined: July 7th, 2022
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