"Yarn Bombing" Graffiti Cozies Up Cold Cityscapes

Photo via picocool

A new form of street art has been gaining popularity throughout the US over the years -- and, while it may not be taking the world by storm just yet, it's certainly helping to keep things cozy just in case. Quite often, graffiti is cited as making neighborhoods seem rundown or unwelcoming, but it seems that some vigilante artisans have been putting down the spray-paint and picking up a needle and thread. "Yarn bombing" -- as its been dubbed -- isn't just about unbridled self-expression; it's about bringing a little warmth to a cold urban cityscape.Over the last few years, city fixtures throughout the world, like fire hydrants, sign poles, and even trees, have been targets of an increasingly present rogue graffiti campaign that would make even street artists like Banksy proud -- or at least his great-grandmother. But instead of paints and stencils, yarn bombing knitters use needles and thread to add a touch of color and personality to make their urban art. Consider them makeshift sweaters for, well, just about everything.

The best part is, property owners don't seem to mind getting tagged like this too much. In fact, some think it's actually kind of cool.

Recently, a Berkeley based knit-ffiti artist known as "Streetcolor" struck outside a museum in Sacramento. But instead of getting livid over the unauthorized work, officials at the Crocker Art Museum were actually kind of, like, cool with it. They even boasted about it on their Facebook page: "We've been yarnbombed ... Check it out!"

The museum's executive director, Lial Jones, explains to The Sacramento Bee why she's not pissed about someone tagging up her gallery. "Museums by their very nature tend to be rather staid, bureaucratic institutions. Frankly, it's kind of fun to have a yarn bomb piece in front of the museum," says Jones. "It's not hurting anyone. And It's cool."

Another Austin based yarn bomber named Magda Sayeg, considered a pioneer in the practice, was willing to reveal her arsty/crafty identity in an interview with The Bee:

[Sayeg] performed what is widely believed to be the first yarn bomb five years ago on the door handle of a boutique she owned in Texas.

Sayeg was working in an urban neighborhood in Houston and wanted to "add some color and fun to the city's dark, concrete winter landscape," she wrote in an e-mail from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she is visiting a future worksite.

It was part joke and part artistic statement.

Yes, she was knitting sweaters for street signs. But drawing people's attention to the urban landscape could help them get in touch with their surroundings, Sayeg said in the e-mail.

So she started a weekly club, in which members took old, half-finished knitting projects and wrapped them around what she called "urban furniture." Unsure at first if they were breaking any laws, they worked at night, Sayeg said.


Photo via YarnBombing

While yarn bombing may never grow as popular as more traditional forms of graffiti, it's certainly winning over some fans in the art world -- especially among its victims.

"Gosh, it's fun," says Jones glowingly of the unsolicited exhibit out in front of her building.

She likes it so much, in fact, she's trying to encourage others to make the cool, cozy graffiti. Knitting classes at the museum start next month.

More on Yarn Bombing
Guerrilla Knitters Invade the Streets of London
Breaking the Law to Make Streets Greener? 8 Smart Guerrilla Urban Improvements
Help Your Tree Survive Winter With a Treesweater
More on Cool Art
Man and Nature: Art in the Age of Climate Change
Leaf Carving: An Incredible New Art Form
What the Heck is Eco-Art? 10 Ways to Appreciate It

Tags: Artists | Cities

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