Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science
Tang Museum, Skidmore College, US
29.01. – 12.06. 2022
Crochet Coral Reef, Source: https://tang.skidmore.edu/exhibitions/286-radical-fiber-threads-connecting-art-and-science
For centuries, fiber arts have influenced practical, theoretical, and pedagogical areas of the sciences as diverse as digital technology, mathematics, neuroscience, medicine, and more. Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science explores this relationship through contemporary art and historical artifacts centered on four key themes: the empirical, the artificial, the body, and the brain. A celebration of interdisciplinary creativity and collaborative learning, Radical Fiber foregrounds each work as at once fine art, process-driven craft, and scientific tool, complicating existing frameworks across fields. Can a crochet hook and yarn uniquely explain the complexities of non-Euclidean geometry? Why does the 1804 Jacquard loom relate to modern computing? How did the accidental discovery of synthetic mauveine dye in 1856 pave the way for modern pharmaceuticals yet also generate toxic environmental impact? Why do we respond differently to a woven photograph than a printed one? These and other questions will reframe the histories of fiber/science intersections and ask not only how artists continue to engage in scientific inquiry through fiber, but also importantly, how the medium can be used to improve our world for the future.
Radical Fiber will feature a new artwork created by amateur and professional makers around the globe: the Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef, part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring. The Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef draws on the long historical connections, especially in the United States, between fiber practice and community building and will connect hobby crafters, art professionals, novice crocheters, and students from Skidmore, broader Saratoga, and global communities.
About the Crochet Coral Reef
The Crochet Coral Reef is project created by sisters Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring. Residing at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft, and community art practice, the project responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash by highlighting not only the damage humans do to earth’s ecology, but also our power for positive action. The Wertheims’ Crochet Coral Reef collection has been exhibited worldwide, including at the 2019 Venice Biennale, Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), Hayward Gallery (London), Science Gallery (Dublin), and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC). The project also encompasses a community-art program in which more than 10,000 people around the world have participated in making more than 40 locally based Satellite Reefs—in New York, Chicago, Melbourne, Ireland, Latvia, UAE, and elsewhere. The Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef on display here is the latest addition to this ever-evolving wooly archipelago.
The Frances Young Tang
Teaching Museum and Art
Gallery at Skidmore College
815 North Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, US