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  • Writer's picture Sarika Tatineni Doppalapudi

Volcanoes and Yarn-Bombing

During the summers of 2022 and 2021, I worked at the New York Virtual Volcano Observatory, located on Governor's Island. I was given the opportunity to yarn-bomb the back porch of the house on Colonels Road that housed the Virtual Volcano Observatory. Yarn-bombing (also referred to as guerrilla knitting or kniffiti) is a form of public art that uses knitted, crocheted, or woven pieces to cover what might otherwise be a mundane object. Some notable yarn-bombings, such as Danish artist Marianne Joergensen’s yarn-bombing of a World War II tank, are acts of protest (in this case against the US and UK invasion of Iraq), while in other cases it serves simply as a way for fiber artists to use unneeded materials from other projects and brighten up a public space. Yarn-bombing’s popularity is, in part, due to the intersections between fiber arts and domestic spaces. Crafts such as knitting and crocheting have long been deemed ‘women’s work’ and have been relegated to the home. Yarn-bombing merges the inherently public nature of graffiti with the domestic and subverts a normative understanding of where fiber arts should take place.

After the 2011 eruption of Puyehue-Cordon Caulle in Chile, an ash cloud covered parts of Argentina and Uruguay. The resort town of Bariloche, Argentina - located 62 miles away from Puyehue - was covered by ash and suffered multiple power outages due to the ashfall. Yarn-bombers covered the trees of Bariloche in fanciful, whimsical ‘sweaters’ made up of colorful stripes and letterwork reading “Bienvenidos a Bariloche” in order to counter the literal darkness that residents felt in what should have been the springtime. The yarn-bombing at the Virtual Volcano Observatory drew inspiration from this, as well as the collaborative nature most yarn-bombings have. I created a "seed" piece for the yarn-bombing, a crocheted volcano, which viewers were invited to contribute to. Attached below are photos of the process of creating the crochet volcano, as well as the yarn-bombing in progress. The top left image is a screenshot of the color chart I used to create the crochet piece, and the next image is of the piece once I finished it. I used tapestry crochet methods to do the color work on the volcano, and used scrap yarn to crochet the majority of the details, especially in the lava. The finished piece measures approximately 12 inches by 12 inches. The top right and bottom left images show the seed yarn-bombing piece after it was tied onto the back porch, and the bottom right image shows the yarn-bombing after it was added on to.

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