Mansfield, Ohio (June 11, 2019)- Mansfield was bombed with graffiti of colorful street art. The art lovers at Mind Body Align LLC worked together with the inmates at the Richland Correctional Institute (RICI) to create a surprise urban art installation of colorful displays of crocheted yarn in Mansfield today. The installation is known as #yarnbombing.
Leading the crew at Mind Body Align was Ana Maria Isaza, an immigrant from Columbia who moved to Mansfield two and a half years ago to be closer to her daughter and her family. The crochet group met once a week for several months, at which Isaza taught, coached and directed the crocheting. She shared, “I have been crocheting and knitting since I was 15 years old… I hope that people see that we are trying to do something nice for the community, to embellish it.” A pennant was installed on the railing at Mind Body Align, but a look at this Pinterest® site shows the countless ways this guerilla knitting or crocheting, is installed.
Another leader, local artist Karen Seman, worked with Isaza to create the crocheted pieces. She shared, “My primary weapon of torture is paint on canvas, (but) I learned how to make granny squares during the 1970's. My father was better at crocheting than my mother. And yes, I proudly wore a potholder vest in grade school, created by my maternal Grandmother. That's way before the Dolce and Gabbana spring 2019 collection.”
Mind Body Align’s Director of Mindfulness Education, Julie Braumberger, coordinated the project with the team at RICI. “Once learned, crocheting is relaxing, requires mindfulness, and soothes anxiety. We thought this would be something the individuals at RICI would enjoy,” Braumberger shared. Mind Body Align reached out to its members for yarn donations and received 35 skeins, which is nearly 8000 yards of yarn. The team at RICI spent three weeks, 188 combined hours, to create 270 colorful squares which will be used for the installation.
Beautifying Mansfield is one part of the continuous community improvement initiatives. “The #MansfieldRising plan has all of us thinking creatively. I encountered this form of street art while I walked the El Camino de Santiago,” stated Annamarie Fernyak, founder of Mind Body Align. “That walk was over 400 miles long and the art lifted our spirits when we were thinking we could not walk any longer. It seemed like it would be fun to bring this to Mansfield.”
Across the globe, yarn bombing, which is also called graffiti knitting, urban knitting or knitfitti, is a popular urban art form. Individuals who knit, crochet, or work with other fibers and textiles create colorful art installations in public spaces. Magda Sayeg, the pioneer of the art form, shares how the desire for color and a sense of the coziness of home drives individuals to create these art installations in her TED talk linked here. One artist has installed at least 100 #LoveBombs, journaling them here.