In May, the Sew News team took turns blogging about the epic, must-see exibit Spun: Adventures in Textiles at the Denver Art Museum. Spun has been going strong all summer, and last week, the museum celebrated the installation of a new piece of textile art. This piece is not only unique because of its size, but also for its creators and medium. The Ladies Fancywork Society, guerilla artists known for “yarn-tagging” some of Denver’s most notable landmarks, collaborated on an enormous and delightful pop-up crocheted forest to decorate the roof of the museum’s north building. Here’s a closer look (more pictures after the Q&A):
I was really inspired by the idea of using textiles to make such a bold, magical statement, and as a rudimentary crocheter, I’m also in awe of the scale and details. So, of course I was thrilled to meet the LFS themselves in person at the DAM’s Untitled Event on Friday night and ask them some questions about their work and the special piece for SPUN.
BB: Can you share a little background about the name Ladies Fancywork Society?
LFS: We wanted to play off of the traditional roles of crochet and femininity with a very ladylike, Victorian style name. Also, “fancywork” traditionally refers to decorative fiber arts- lace making, embroidery, basket weaving, etc- which pretty much fits the bill of what we do.
BB: How did you find each other and start collaborating?
LFS: LFS was originally made up of different ladies who all either moved away or got too busy with careers and stuff pretty early on. Esther–the one remaining lady–restocked LFS with her friends- from school, work, and just mutual friends- who had recently learned how to crochet, and so The Ladies Fancywork Society as we know it was born.
BB: What inspired you to start creating large-scale installations?
LFS: We’d been tagging- as in, leaving somewhat small crochet pieces- street lights and bus benches for a while, and while it’s always fun, it wasn’t as exciting as it had once been. We had to chase the dragon, basically. So we set our sights on the Dancers sculpture outside of the Denver Performing Arts Center, and something of that scale, even though it was relatively simple compared to later installations, required a lot of planning and forethought. So when we got it done and up, it was that much more rewarding- not to mention, a LOT more people could see it. Then we just try to top ourselves every time!
BB: Why do you use crochet as your medium?
LFS: Crochet is sort of the bastard of the fiber arts world, which appeals to us. It’s also really intuitive and simple- you can change your mind halfway through a pattern, hide mistakes easily, and even just make it up as you go along. It also moves fast, which is nice when you are making huge huge projects. Crochet is also a feminine, non-destructive alternative to the often masculine world of traditional graffiti art.
BB: What kind of response do you want to provoke in people who see your work?
LFS: Smiles! Hopefully, it makes them feel good and they are laughing, either with us or at us. Or at least, if they don’t like our particular art, it makes them realize that if they want to put their art up somewhere public, they can do it too.
BB: What other textile artists or designers do you admire, and what pieces from SPUN do you find inspiring?
LFS: The Nick Cave show is blowing our collective mind- the uber-level of embellishment really speaks to the inner coral reef in us. And, speaking of coral reefs, Margaret Werthheim’s coral reef project- including it’s satellite at DAM- is amazing in how it got so many people across the world to participate, not to mention the whole science-break-through thing.
Also, everyone’s grandma. We’re a big fan of toilet paper cozies.
Thank you so much to the LFS for taking the time to answer our questions! And I mean, who doesn’t love toilet paper cozies? The installation certainly puts a smile on my face and I can’t wait to see what they do next! Here are a few more shots where you can take a closer look, courtesy of the Denver Art Museum:
The best part is that you still have time to come and see Spun! The exhibit, including multi-media artist Nick Cave’s absolutely amazing exhibit Sojourn, concludes September 22. If you haven’t experienced Cave’s work before, be sure to take a look at this video performance. And for more information about Spun and other upcoming events, be sure to check out the Denver Art Museum’s website at http://www.denverartmuseum.org/.