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Yarn Bombing L.A. at Craft & Folk Art Museum

June 06, 2013|By Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Art Critic
  • Yarn Bombing L.A., "CAFAM Granny Squared," 2013, colored yarn
Yarn Bombing L.A., "CAFAM Granny Squared," 2013, colored yarn (Christopher Knight/Los…)

Knitting has many purposes, from functional to fanciful. A sweater for the dog. A tea cozy for the pot. A facade for the Craft and Folk Art Museum.

“CAFAM Granny Squared” is a wonderfully weird public art project in which the brick museum across from the La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Boulevard has been temporarily covered with thousands of small, colorful squares of crocheted yarn. The architectural packaging is sort of like Christo wrapping a building, albeit with an old-fashioned homemade effort substituting for the modern engineering imperatives of heavy industry. A typical domestic activity explodes to public prominence and scale.
 
The building's surface is jarringly playful when seen driving by or glimpsed from across the street, a cacophony of bright color where such is rarely found. Up close, it's disconcertingly fuzzy and soft rather than crisp and hard. Far or near, the facade offers a stark contrast with the norms of urban architecture.

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The work was orchestrated by Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, an estimable group of self-styled “guerrilla knitters” that meets regularly at the museum. (The core members are Katelyn Dorroh, Heather Hoggan, Arzu Arda Kosar, David Orozco, Darlyn Susan Yee and Carol Zou.) Several hundred knitters from 50 states and 25 countries heeded an open call to contribute granny squares to the project.

A granny square is a staple of the knitter's art -- a small textile patch, often made from leftover yarn, that requires only modest skill to execute. Expandable to virtually any size when squares are simply sewn together, it's the craft equivalent of Minimalism's repetitive geometry, here wedded with a commitment to social cooperation across innumerable borders.

The CAFAM pattern consists of textile squares nested within textile squares, forming blocks and cruciform shapes. Think of it as representing the artistic marriage of Anni and Josef Albers. The Bauhaus never looked quite like this, though, which is part of the work's goofy charm.

Craft and Folk Art Museum, 5814 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 937-4230, through July 1. www.cafam.org

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