MMMM @ BAM until September 15th!




The largest installation of the Mater Matrix Mother and Medium project is currently up at The Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Washington, until September 15th.    Beginning at the colonnade of lampposts and trees in front of the museum, it continues west for another two city blocks, with some of the largest panels swirling around an old oak tree past 106th Ave.


For myself and creative partner Paul Margolis, installing the installation this time was one of the most enjoyable and interactive times we’ve done it.  The streets we were working on for about 100 hours, crocheting up on ladders, are major walking thoroughfares, and -once we began to count- we would get about 5 to 10 complements on the installation an hour.  It is a a very strenuous process, so this kept our morale high.


Immediately following the installation, I had to throw myself into completing another installation headed to Italy, so I don’t feel like I’ve had a chance to fully process what great feedback we got, all of the support from the museum and museum visitors, as well as people who have followed and contributed to the MMMM project since its beginning in 2009.  I am so grateful for the embracing experience!  For the time being, here are many images from the installation and the part of it that functioned as the opening to the BAM ARTSfair.



Crochet pools coming in! Not too late to join in!

My hope for people to join in MMMM remotely is beginning to bloom!

My mom, in Virginia, has been hard at work.  Thanks Mom!


And Maggie Dean put together a Community Crochet event at The Blend of Art and Coffee, in Prosperity South Carolina! Maggie is a former assistant of mine, and I am so excited she decided to bring MMMM with her as she traveled.  I’m looking forward to hearing more about the event.





1009308_10151634518028810_1795604310_o1014510_10151634518788810_1564855057_oI also have word that crocheting is happening in Tacoma and Soap Lake, Washington, Atlanta, Portland and Alaska!  If you still want to join in, contact me, and check out these directions.  I’d like to get the crocheted pieces around July 1st!

Mater Matrix Mother and Medium will be installed this summer, and will flow down the streets of Bellevue, Washington, and create a striking gateway to The Bellevue Arts Museum’s 67th anniversary of the BAM ARTSfair this July 26th, 27th and 28th, 2013. The installation will remain up until mid-September.


Directions for those wanting to join in MMMM this summer!

I’m sending out my first round of directions for those people requesting to join in MMMM project this summer, so I just thought i would post them to the blog as well!

I’m so thrilled at the response so far! email me at if you need more information!

Thank you so much for wanting to join in the MMMM community-based installation.  This on-going project will be a part of the 6oth anniversary of the Bellevue Arts Museum ARTSfair, in Bellevue, Wa. cascading down the streets above the fair and the entrance, celebrating both the way that art can form community and actively trying to create it!

Crocheting at Delridge Library

Crocheting at Delridge Library

Because this is the most ambitious version of the project, spanning city blocks, I wanted to get anyone involved who would like to participate, not just those able to attend the workshops that will be at the museum before and during the fair.

I would so value your contribution!

What I have loved about this project since I have been working on it since 2009, is it creates individual connections between people, even though it represents the gathering together of our larger communities around water.  I began crocheting for this summer’s iteration and a poet who was teaching a class my son was in, says to me, ‘oh that reminds me of an artwork I saw a few summers ago, and I was inspired to write a poem about it’, not realizing that I was the artist who had created the piece that spurred her on to write.  I love that this artwork seems to have a life of its own, because so many people are still a part of it, their energy, hopes and desires still move it along.

So welcome!  The first thing I need you to know is, there are really no mistakes involved in this process.  You can contribute in anyway you want to, however little or large you life allows.

You can crochet alone, or ask a few friends to a coffee shop.  Or you and a few friends could invite a few friends, or even make a public Facebook invite that invites anyone who wants to learn to crochet to join you. 

Do you have to know how to crochet to participate?  Well, you need to learn, and I wish I was there to teach you, but there are so many great sources to learn the basic stitches on Youtube (chain and single or double crochet).   But I think an exciting thing to do would be to put the word out among your friends and acquaintances that you want to learn and meet for coffee, talk, share something new about yourselves.  And anything you make is perfect for the installation, within just a few parameters.

If you know how to crochet already, in the spirit of the project, see how many new people you can teach to crochet.  It never fails, when I have done community crocheting in a casual environment (i.e. coffee shop), if there are more than two people crocheting blue stuff, people gravitate over. “What are you making?” and some even stay to help or learn.  Try it!

I never try to force a didactic message about water and our relationship to it at the communal gatherings; I want the community space to flow naturally, but I do ask a few questions sometimes once people get going.  Doing handwork allows people to feel relaxed and free- associate, and that makes for some amazing thoughts to emerge.  I would love it, if it feels right, for you to do the same.  And document some of the responses and impressions, have people write it down.  Take pictures of people with their crocheting, sharing some moments together.  I would like to share these on the MMMM blog, so make sure everyone is cool with it.  If it gets too busy, or you aren’t interested in this part of the project, that is fine too.

It can be as simple as :

-What are your earliest memories, impressions, experiences of water?

-What emotions do you connect to bodies of water you have lived near by? 

-How do you engage with water on a daily basis?  Is it mundane, sacred or some point in between?

-What do you want to change in the human relationship to water?

These things alone will get the conversation going.


Now about the crocheting.  Basically your only guidelines are to make flat rounded panels about 6-8 inches in diameter, or you can also just make chains.  They could be square – I include those too, but the rounded ones seems to reference flowing water more.  But flat or mostly flat works best when I am incorporating all the pieces together.  Ruffled pieces are just too hard to add in. And the yarn and fabric can be any color or shade of blue.  I know rivers have other colors in them…sometimes people have wanted to add green or grey or brown, but the stunning blue of this massive installation is one thing that makes it compelling to experience.  Any kind of yarn and any size hook will work.  Experiment!  Have fun!  Ask people to clean out their closets, stashes and craft bins, search the thriftstore…no need to buy anything new!

I will begin to reshape and add in panels to the installation beginning July 1st, so would like to receive the panels around that time.  I have a small amount of funding to send to about 10 groups to use a USPS Medium Flat rate box, as long as it is STUFFED full.  If you need assistance with the shipping, please let me know.


Thank you so so much for wanting to join it!  I am so excited to see what surprises will come from this open call!

And if you do belong to a knitting/crocheting/crafting group, I would love it if you would share this project among your member, or even organize an event together.  And please let me post about your group!


If you still have any questions, let me know!

Thanks so much!

Looking for crocheters from around the country (and globe) to join in the MMMM project this summer!

I’m eager to announce Mater Matrix Mother and Medium’s most ambitious iteration to date, and get as many people possible around the country (and the globe) involved!  This summer MMMM will flow down the streets of Bellevue, Washington, and create a striking gateway to The Bellevue Arts Museum’s 67th anniversary of the BAM ARTSfair this July 26th, 27th and 28th, 2013.

Crocheting at Cathedral St. John the Divine NYC

Crocheting at Cathedral St. John the Divine NYC

The on-going MMMM community-created fiber river project will move through the trees and civic structures around the museum, and I’ll be leading a series of community crochet workshops at the museum before and during the fair.

But I want to get anyone involved who would like to participate, not just those people able to attend in the community.  Every time I have created a new version of MMMM in a different community, I have been contacted by folks through my blog wishing they could participate and wanting to send blue crocheted pieces to be added in to the river.  I love the idea but never really had the time during the project to facilitate this.

This time I want to make that happen!  If you are part of a knitting/crocheting or crafting group or just as an individual, and would like to join in the MMMM project and don’t live in Bellevue, Washington area (or even if you do but want to work remotely!), contact me at!

Crocheting at Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland

Crocheting at Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland

Here are the directions and  information and strategies you need to facilitate your own Community Crochet Event to contribute to the MMMM project.  It includes information  about how to facilitate story-telling through handwork about our shared, rich and meaningful experiences and deeply-held beliefs about water and community.  I’ll ask that someone in your group (however large or small) be a documenter and journaler for these conversations, and that we share your words and photographs on the Mater Matrix Mother and Medium blog and social media.  You can feel free to interpret this documentation however much or little your group is comfortable with.

And your group’s crocheted pieces will be integrated into this project that included work from people around Seattle and the Northwest, NYC, Atlanta, Portland and Boston!

So if you want to join in, contact me today at matermmm@gmail.comWe have until July 1st for this community participation leg of this largest and most ambitious adaptation of this project!

Crocheting in Seattle's urban forest

Crocheting in Seattle’s urban forest

Crocheting at Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia

Crocheting at Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia

Crocheting in Seattle's Summer Streets

Crocheting in Seattle’s Summer Streets

“Saltus Chori Aevum” Film by Rodrigo Valenzuela, premiers July 3rd, The Rendezvous, Seattle

This past May, the ‘Mater Matrix Mother and Medium’ project premiered a 2-day multi-disciplinary performance called “Saltus Chori Aevum”, created by collaboration with Mandy Greer, Jessica Jobaris, Saskia Delores, Monica Schley and Andrea Ives,

During the course of the development of the performance, filmmaker Rodrigo Valenzuela worked closely with the artists, filming improvisation sessions, ritualized cleansings and an intimate view of the performances themselves. Capturing more than just a performance documentation, Valenzuela integrated his own vision into the narrative, creating revealing portraits of the labor and relationships of the performers.

Join us July 3rd for a reception and screening of his film, from 5pm-8pm at The Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater. 2322 2nd Ave. Seattle, WA 98121 U.S.A (206) 441-5823

Presented by The Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and Commissioned by Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art. MMMM celebrates and interprets the splendor of Seattle’s urban watersheds and encourages stewardship, especially as it connects to SPU’s work.

“Saltus Chori Aevum” Performance images, May 5 and 6th, 2012


This gallery contains 8 photos.

The MMMM project was lucky enough to get to work with filmmaker and photographer Rodrigo Valenzuela this spring on “Saltus Chori Aevum”.  He not only captured some incredible images of the 2-night public art performance, but also worked with all … Continue reading

Thank you! Remembering ‘Saltus Chori Aevum’, the MMMM 2012 performance

‘Saltus Chori Aevum’, the MMMM 2012 performance happened more than a month ago; it’s difficult for me to believe.  I usually drop off the planet right after finishing a huge project, and this one was no different, except for the sense of moving the action and motivation of themes of the project into the recesses of my private life; cleansing, scouring, stripping down to a rawness and starting fresh, renewing.  I have been cleaning my house like I have never done before;  moving into my own home with a baby 7 years ago, I have never taken enough time out from working to really even move in, or upkeep much of anything.  There is always a new project, more work.  But this has created mental blockages for me that have grown difficult to overcome, it seems silly but very real.  So, it seems small, ordinary, menial, unimportant to even mention; giving away piles of things, removing old patterns, and cleaning layers of real and psychological dirt….but it feels very much like the process of creating this performance is the impetus for this private excavation, and will hopefully un-block my way to re-newed making.

It brings me to a feeling of gratitude for choreographer/dancer Jessica Jobaris, for helping all of us involved to dig around in our heads and bodies for the movements to say what we needed to see.  Through meditation and improvisation workshops, she helped us all create a score, and I always found myself on the floor scrubbing, pushing and pulling imagined waters.  More than just creating what you might have seen at Dupen Fountain in May, she helped me unlock a new quiet vocabulary in my own body, and I’m nervous and excited to see how it will influence my new work.

I owe huge thank you’s and deep gratitude to all my collaborators on this project.  All of them, as well as Jessica, Monica Schley, Saskia Delores, Andrea Ivesand Rodrigo Valenzuela approached this project with a sense of nurture and working from a place of intuition and experimentation.  There was a rawness in the piece that I really loved that reminded me of community gatherings and ritual; intent takes priority over perfection.  And this is what I found compelling about the flood of cell-phone pictures that I found on the internet after this public piece opened; they’re like tiny moments of the individual’s perception.  The images in this post are just a few of those:

I also am so thankful for the guidance and support of this project from Marcia Iwasaki at the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs  and  Layne Cubell from The Seattle Center Foundation/Next 50.  This project wouldn’t have been possible with their sharp management and dedication.

I also am grateful to the kind volunteering efforts of the friends and acquaintances who came out to assist us with putting this on: Mary Lee Drake, Rebecca Bloom, Wyly Astley, Kristie Metcalf , Glenn Billard, Ellen Eades, Barb Matthews, Renata Almeida.  I know I have forgotten a few names – I’m so sorry – but I am so grateful for the support!

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More images taken by Photographer/Filmmaker Rodrigo Valenzuela

This weekend: Community Crochet at Northwest Folklife Festival

COMMUNITY CROCHET WORKSHOPS: May 25 – 28, 2012, 1-4pm everyday, Northwest Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center, Next Fifty Plaza Activity Tent ( HUGE white tent just west of the EMP)

Catch me this last weekend to participate in my on-going project Mater Matrix Mother and Medium as it returns to Seattle Center for more Community Crochet Workshops and the final weekend to see the re-envisioned installation!

'Saltus Chori Aevum' performance for the MMMM Project, by Rodrigo Valenzuela

‘Saltus Chori Aevum’ performance for the MMMM Project, by Rodrigo Valenzuela

Participate! Fri. 5/25 – Mon. 5/28, 1-4pm

Help create the artwork at Seattle Center at several crochet workshops during Folklife in the Next 50 Plaza Activity tent, just west of the EMP. I will teach beginners how to crochet chains and add onto the ever-evolving artwork. Expert crocheters welcome, too! All materials provided, but contributions of recycled fibers and yarns welcome, in any shade of blue!

TONIGHT! ‘Saltus Chori Aevum’ final performance at the Seattle Center, 7pm


TONIGHT! ‘Saltus Chori Aevum’ at the Seattle Center, 7pm,

The final performance!  The responses I got from yesterday’s performance were incredible!  Thank you everyone from coming out and enjoying what we’ve been working on since February. Don’t miss the final performance tonight!

by Ellen Eades

by Ellen Eades

Meet at one of three places to begin the performance, at the Kobe Bell, The Poetry Garden or the northwest corner of the Key Arena.  See the map, with the pink stars!

And here is The Seattle Channel’s profile on my work from a week ago!

MMMM Performance Collaborators

Mater Matrix Mother and Medium’s    new multi-media performance “Saltus Chori Aevum”  is almost here, and I am awash in realizing what a great pleasure it has been the past few months of collaborating with some very generous, humble and talents artists: choreographer/dancer Jessica Jobaris, performance artist/vocalist Saskia Delores, harpist/poet Monica Schley and filmaker Rodrigo Valenzuela.   My initial seed for this project was to bring several people together who don’t work together, haven’t worked together, but all of whose work I feel incredibly drawn into, like I am disappearing into a well of deep water.  So it has been an experiment, throwing people together and seeing what happens.  There is rawness, and refinement and some intense crystalline moments of people making work that they wouldn’t be making on their own.  It has been a feast of influences to be a part of the creation of performance, and I believe it will be a feast of sensations to experience as a viewer.  The creation of MMMM, the entire project, has always been about celebrating process over end-product;  the crocheting has a life of its own as it grows and is impacted upon by the environment.  And I see this performance blooming out of that same process.


Also, please take a moment to watch Rodrigo’s film Diamond Box, which is up for the Vimeo documentary awards, and Vote for it here!  Voting ends tomorrow April 30th.

Premier of “Saltus Chori Aevum”, the new MMMM multi-media performance, May 5th & 6th, 2012, 7pm

film still by Rodrigo Valenzuela

It’s almost here:  the new MMMM performance!  You don’t want to miss this and have only two chances!  I am so grateful for my collaborators and I have learned so very much from all of them as they have helped me stretch my abilities at creative direction.  Please come celebrate our efforts and join us May 5th and 6th.  Free to all.

film still by Rodrigo Valenzuela

film still by Rodrigo Valenzuela

Mater Matrix Mother and Medium 2012 Performance,

May 5th and 6th

7pm at the Seattle Center

“Mandy Greer’s ongoing Mater Matrix Mother and Medium project premiers a new multi-media performance entitled “Saltus Chori Aevum”, all words in Latin that mean “passage” but in very different forms, from the passage of time, to a passage in music, to a passage in the landscape.

Led by the three female figures of the Moirai – the Spinner, the Allotter and the Unturnable – this experiential performance delves into how simultaneous and conflicting states of being function in collusion.  Referencing the transformational ability of water to slip between three states, and the spectrum of impact water has on the human drama –from tranquility all the way to devastation– the performance will interweave rites of passage into an investigation of the sometimes-contradictory predicament of being both an individual and a member of a group.

You are invited to join the performance by choosing your “Fate”, by meeting a performer at one of three sites at the Seattle Center at 7pm –either the Kobe Bell, the Poetry Garden or the northwest corner of the Key Arena outside the building.  You will be led in procession to the Dupen Fountain in the Alki Courtyard, to the site of Mandy Greer’s Mater Matrix Mother and Medium installation and a video-scape created by filmmaker Rodrigo Valenzuela.

film still by Rodrigo Valenzuela

film still by Rodrigo Valenzuela

Created in collaboration by Greer, choreographer/dancer Jessica Jobaris, performance artist/vocalist Saskia Delores, harpist/poet Monica Schley, dancer Andrea Ives and video artist Rodrigo Valenzuela.  The performers, working together or apart, traverse the landscape, coaxing out the thin space between manual labor and contemplative practice.  Small acts of menial work  — washing, cleaning, caretaking, spinning, weaving — are revealed as thresholds to states of transformation, exploring the dual role of water in the mundane and the mystical.

film still by Rodrigo Valenzuela

film still by Rodrigo Valenzuela

Presented by The Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and Commissioned by Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art.  MMMM celebrates and interprets the splendor of Seattle’s urban watersheds and encourages stewardship, especially as it connects to SPU’s work.   MMMM performance and installation is sponsored by the Seattle Center Foundation’s Next 50 program of events, during Sustainable Futures month. ”


Creative Direction, Installation, Costumes: Mandy Greer

Choreography: Jessica Jobaris

Vocals, Mixing, Co-production: Saskia Delores

Harp, Vocals, Arrangement: Monica Schley

Video, contributing sound design: Rodrigo Valenzuela

The Three Moirai: Jessica Jobaris, Saskia Delores, Monica Schley

The Two Supplicants: Andrea Ives and Mandy Greer



Where to meet to begin the Performance at the Seattle Center: Either The Kobe Bell, or The Poetry Garden or the northwest corner of the Key Arena.

Re-envisioned Installation, Community Workshops and New Multi-media Performance: MMMM returns to Seattle

Me crocheting at Dupen Fountain, Seattle Center

Mater Matrix Mother and Medium is back in Seattle!  I’m at the Seattle Center for the next week with artist Paul Margolis, as we re-sculpt and shape the crocheted pieces from the past three years of this project around the embankments of the Dupen Fountain at the Alki Courtyard (just outside Vera Project), opening on April 21st until May 31st.

In process at Dupen Fountain, Seattle Center

Paul installing at Agnes Scott College, Atlanta

As I shake out the dust of 6 months at the Cathedral St. John the Divine, I come across pieces in the large panels made by people I remember in Portland, NYC, Atlanta, Kent, Issaquah and all over Seattle.  New pieces made on the lawn of the Cathedral while I was in NYC are added next to older faded pieces made by kids in White Center.  I’m reinforcing weak spots with new cloth, and seeing a friend’s blue Brooks Brother shirt, donated and cut up, and crocheted by many different people into circular pools.

Crocheting at Cathedral St. John the Divine, NYC

Delridge Library, Seattle

It feels appropriate to circle around the Fountain site, as this project seems to come back to a full circle to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 Worlds Fair with the Next Fifty program of 6 months of art installation, lectures, films, and hands-on activities.  Yet in this closing cycle, the community workshops continue this April and May, again pulling in more people to add their voice to moments of community created around busy hands; teaching and learning at the same time, active listening while strangers find connections with each other.

The Dupen Fountain site has also inspired a newly commissioned performance I’m developing in collaboration with some of my favorite Seattle-based multi-media artists; dancer/choreographer Jessica Jobaris, harp poet Monica Schley, vocalist/performance artist Saskia Delores and filmmaker Rodrigo Valenzuela.

Zoe Scofield, 2009 MMMM performance

The inaugural installation in 2009 featured a stunning performance in the woods with visionary dancer/choreographer Zoe Scofield and composer/experimental musician Morgan Henderson.  This new performance begins at the same jumping-off concepts — of the role water plays in the formation of community and how this is both ancient and contemporary – but is radically spinning off in new patterns of direction.  Inspired by the transformational ability of water to slip between three states, by the three stages of life of growth, length and finite end, and the spectrum of effects water has on the human drama from tranquility all the way to devastation, this new multi-media performance will interweave rites of passage into an investigation of the sometimes-contradictory predicament of what it means to be both an individual and a member of a group.

I’m already mesmerized by our early multi-layered soundscapes and movement scores, and am so spurred on by the talented people for whom I’m making a series of wearable sculptures and gowns inspired by Roman-era Alexandria mixed with a bit of glitz.   The performances happen just before twilight on May 5th and 6th, 2012, so mark that on the calendar already and follow @matermatrix on Twitter or on Facebook to get more details as they come.  What you experience will be luminous; I am almost sure of it!

In the meantime, join me at the Seattle Center for the opening of the MMMM installation during The Next Fifty Opening Day Celebration on April 21st, 2012.  I’ll be hosting a Community Crochet event from 1-4 pm in The Armory/Center House at the Westside courtyard in the newly remodeled food court area.   There is just a huge list of activities for kids and adults, workshops, performances and exhibits happening all day from 10am -6pm.  Check out the list HERE.  Drop in and see me for a break from the activity and relax for a bit while adding some crochet stitches to panels that will be added into my installation.  This is totally for beginners with all materials provided, as well as a great place to share what you know if you are an expert crochet.  Help create community one moment at a time.

I’ll also be back at the Seattle Center the next day April 22nd, 2012 for more crocheting for the Earth Day Celebration.  Community Crochet will be from 12-4 pm at the activity tent at Next 50 Plaza (just west of the EMP).  I’ll be there until 2pm, then head into The Armory/Center House to be on a panel discussion about Sustainability in the Arts in Conference Room H until 3:30 pm.  Again, there are a whole host of other presentation and hands-on activities for kids and adults  in The Next 50 Plaza tent happening all day from 11-5, see the list HERE.

And more Community Crochet workshops are set to happen during Northwest Folklife Festival, May 25 – 28 : 1-4pm at the Next Fifty  Activity Tent at Next Fifty Plaza,  just west of the EMP.  All materials provided, but donations of old blue yarns or fabrics are always welcome!

Commissioned by the Office Of Arts and Cultural Affairs and Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art, as a way to encourage stewardship, and to celebrate and interpret the splendor of Seattle’s urban watersheds, MMMM has brought people together in communities around the country, crocheting recycled materials, adding their voices to the conversation about personal and civic responsibility to heal our relationship to water.

Mater Matrix Mother and Medium community workshops, performances and installation probes how civic communities have always formed around water, and how we as individuals through creative acts, can tap back into the reverence for water our ancestors felt.

Terraces at the Key Arena, Seattle Center


MMMM in 2012

I am always amazed at how this on-going project seems to come to a moment of closure, and very quickly is pulled to expand in new directions beyond what I even considered!  Mater Matrix Mother and Medium will be headed back this spring from NYC’s Cathedral St. John the Divine and evolving once again as part of the Next 50 program at the Seattle Center, as part of their Sustainable Futures focus area programing.  I’m very thrilled to be a part of the Next 50 and the enormous amount of cultural programing, not just culling from the region’s creative thinkers, but from around the country.  If you don’t already know about it,  “the Next Fifty, (is) six months of events and activities planned in 2012 at Seattle Center that celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, the legacy it left to the region, and the opportunities ahead during the next 50 years.”  ‘Events and Activities’ doesn’t begin to sum it up, with this line up of focus areas, it would be hard not to find something to engage with:

Installing MMMM in NYC…

Thank you Flickr!!

Thank you Flickr!!

When I walked into the Cathedral St. John the Divine earlier this September, I was there to install a giant installation for the exhibition “The Value of Water”, and had never been to the site before….quite nerve-wracking and almost a little absurd for an installation that is all about taking on the shape of its environment. And, I wouldn’t be able to install it myself.   I had been using measurements (some of them contradictory) cobbled together by several people, some dark low-res pictures, and a very simplified floor plan to try to create a plan for something that I usually created painstakingly with my own hands on-site to fit the exact shape of things.  Thank the heavens for the hundreds of tourist photos of the Cathedral on Flickr, it was only through pouring over those that I could even begin to grasp what was going on in all the soaring heights and gigantic arches and wings, bays and arches, and arches!

Armed with my little detailed plans, having worked them out with the crocheting in my studio back in Seattle, I was nervous — what if the measurements were wrong…there was no time or space or crocheting to recreate or adjust things as I usually did because the installation was going to be 65 feet off the ground and done by riggers; I couldn’t  just go up and tweak something.  But after a few minutes of talking over the plans with Daniel from Sapsis Rigging, I knew everything was going to be fine.  Like every other art installer/preparator I have ever met, he was nonchalantly unflappable, nothing dramatic….and just said “no problem”.

Once when we had some glitch, he said something like “that’s a little hard, but hard is no big deal” and then went on to talk about some crazy thing they had to do for Sting when he performed at the Cathedral!

It ended up being one of the easier installations I’ve ever put up, and very fun to get to climb up into the little spiraling staircase and tiny corredors the run up inside the Cathedral.  Paul got to do a lot of fun stuff, I am a bit afraid of heights, at least at 65 feet.

little staircase to the balconies, quite dark without the flash...

little staircase to the balconies, quite dark without the flash...

tiny little hallway in the dark...

tiny little hallway in the dark...

Daniel in the Genie, 40 feet up

Daniel in the Genie, 40 feet up

Paul beginning to stretch the crocheting open...

Paul beginning to stretch the crocheting open...

And we even had plenty of time to crank out more crocheted ropes during lunch at the Hungarian Pastry Shop across the street.  When you’re working hard, giant creme puffs count as lunch….

Now…time to go through and edit all the images of the final installation, and the beautiful images of the other work in the show….more to come documenting the MMMM installation in NYC.

And you can still support this project traveling to NYC through my Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to cover some of the shortfalls from time off from work, materials, shipping and travel expenses. Just 8 days left to raise $770 to fund this project, and every $5 helps!  Thank you so much, more images to come!

Last days of Seattle summer recap: NEPO 5k walkers/crocheters, making support for MMMM in NYC

I’ve finally had a moment to digest and remember what great fun I had at the NEPO 5k on September 10th before we had to fly out to NYC to begin the newest installation of MMMM.  Paul, Hazel and I set up a Community Crochet station at the stunning turquoise and red Korean Pagoda in Daejon Park, with piles of shredded fabrics and yarn, tons of sun surrounding the pagoda, a strong breeze and just enough tree buffer to make I-90 sound like the ocean.  Like most of the art stops on the route –  a 5K-long stretch of art events, installations, performance, happenings and galleries — we spent about 2 hours alone, then a deluge of people as they all made their way to us, all seemed happy to take a rest out of the sun and have some water and crochet a bit.

All seemed enthused and engaged by the long walk and comradery of the blend of art makers, art viewers, neighbors, friends, bands of performers and the ever-shifting site and cityscape.

Map of NEPO 5K through the city

Map of NEPO 5K through the city

My lovely first guest and I talked about her visceral reaction to the female crusifix hung at Cathedral St. John the Divine she has seen in the 80’s. And then with the crush of people arriving, it was non-stop teaching and crocheting!

Unlike most of MMMM crochet events over the past few years — where production is relaxed and process-oriented — this time I really needed to crank out the crocheted ropes to accommodate the scale of the Cathedral, with some of the columns 40 feet in diameter.  At the end of the day, I thought we had enough crocheted ropes but Paul and I still had to crank out more our first two days in New York, using up every last bit of fabric I had.

But there were still a few skeins of yarn left in my suitcase to spend an afternoon crocheting on the grounds of the Cathedral with some New Yorkers…….more pictures of that to come.

The connection between making the actual supports for the installation and the way Seattle has continued to support this evolving project is not lost on me.  So thank you for the send-off Seattle and  NEPO 5K-ers!

You can also still support this project traveling to NYC through my Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds necessary to cover some of the shortfalls from time off from work, materials, shipping and travel expenses.  I have 9 days left to raise 40% of my fund-raising goal …it’s getting very close but not there yet.  If you don’t know how Kickstarter works, you must meet your financial goal or receive none of the money…yikes.  Deep thanks to the 34 backers who have already pledged, you don’t know how heartening your support is in this uneasy time for my family.  Seriously, thank you!

And thank you Klara Glosova for a triumphant event to celebrate the community-driven art activity blossoming in our time.

Two of my favorite people in the world , Vis-a-Vis Society!

Two of my favorite people in the world , Vis-a-Vis Society!

Check out the slideshow for more images of the day and the James Harris after-party Bavarian Beer Garden.  There should be Polka at every art event!

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‘MMMM’ installation in NYC needs your help!

If you are at all interested in my process-based installation ‘Mater Matrix Mother and Medium’, I hope you’ll consider supporting it as it travels to NYC, even if just through a very small donation, on Kickstarter.  I sincerely appreciate the support!

ALSO:  I’ll be at The Cathedral St. John the Divine this Sunday September 18th, 2011, crocheting on the grounds just behind the Peace Fountain.  If you just happen to be in NYC, I would love it if you could join me to crochet little pools for the next incarnation of MMMM.  I’ll be there from 12-3pm, and will have all materials and hooks, and can teach anyone to crochet.  If you have extra scrap blue yarn, I would gladly accept that too!  Or just drop by and say hello, and take a peak at the installation in the Cathedral.  Here’s the Facebook invite!

Thank you!

‘Mater Matrix Mother and Medium’ 2011 Redux!

shot by Ian Lucero for MMMM film

shot by Ian Lucero for MMMM film

My installation ‘Mater Matrix Mother and Medium’ has been dormant for about a year, but is about to return in yet another form, this time winding its way 65 feet above the ground through the massive and dramatic stone canyon of columns of the Gothic Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in NYC, as part of their exhibition and symposium “The Value of Water: Sustaining a Green Planet”, from September 2011 – March 2012.

This might seem a bit of a departure from an installation primarily about engaging in an intimate way with small parcels of the natural landscape.  I usually spend about 100 hours with my husband, artist Paul Margolis, painstakingly and patiently discovering the negative space in and among trees, our faces pressed to bark and knuckles scraping as we reshape, mend and add to the every-changing fiber river, now sometimes reaching 300 feet long.

Installing at Herbert Bayer Earthworks, 2010

Installing at Herbert Bayer Earthworks, 2010

I’ve taken it to Atlanta and to several Northwest locations with 4Culture SITE SPECIFIC program, each time feeling like it’s a new installation and that we have really gotten to know a few trees very well.  This time the installation will be hung by a team of riggers using bucket lifts (that go who knows how high…the Cathedral is 200 feet high!), and will meander among carved stone columns, some as big as 40 feet in diameter. The painstaking process this time took place in my studio, pouring over little pieces of paper that are meant to somehow translate and make me understand two football fields of space.  I unwrapped the crochet panels inside invisible columns taped out on my floor, crocheting about 350 feet of seams together, widening the entire installation so it can have a presence in the massive space.  Have I said massive enough? It is massive, the largest cathedral in the United States.

Yet, it doesn’t feel incongruous with the notion of engaging with something grown rather than built.  Incongruity has been a natural state of this installation from the beginning anyhow, with putting fiber outside in the environment, while fiber is most often seen as something fragile to be treated with white gloves out of the sunlight.  Especially with my newest project ‘Solstenen’ and my fixation on the body turning to living stone — becoming part of the larger cycle of geologic time — having this work supported by massive bits of the earth, carved by skilled hands, is quite nice.  Cathedrals and stone churches have always seemed to me to blend architecture and landscape anyhow because of the very qualities of water the stone retains,  the visceral sense of coming out of the earth, the cool brisk sense of wicking water from the air and ground.

I love what The Reverend Canon Tom Miller has to say about the Cathedral in his essay for Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save our Most Critical Resource. 

The simple answer is that there’s water, water everywhere, as the imagination might fashion it, since none of the stone, wood or glass would exist without the presence and power of water over geological time. As biblical tradition has it, human beings bear the image of their Creator. Perhaps in like manner, all the materials in the Cathedral bear the mark of water, that first element of Creation from which all things were made.

He also make reference to the many wells, springs and underground streams that dot the land the Cathedral is built upon, even pointing out the use of one spring for years as the source of water for the Baptismal Font.  This speaks so directly to why I began this installation in the beginning.   Ancient holy wells have always been centers of community, and then became centers of reverence.  The way that water works, part of one large cycle, there really isn’t a division between something sacred and something not.  Inspired by over and over and over references of the mythology of the sacred quality of water in nearly every culture, I question where it has gone in ours, with water treated as a commodity, valued for its ability to make money, and yet our careless and privileged sense to waste it and spoil it.  MMMM was inspired mostly by the Clooty Well tradition of Celtic regions – bits of cloth are tied to trees around sacred wells after dipping them in the water, to bind intention into action, to heal.   Can we heal our disjointed relationship to the water we are born from?  When I engage with making this work, and asking people to join me, I feel it is a commitment to try.

Clootie well

The intimacy with site that has usually been so important to me as a maker of this site-responsive installation was replaced  by an intimacy with the history of the piece as I slowly went over every section of it, with remembering individual people who helped make this installation by once more working on their bits that began as far back as March 2009.

I have a very good memory for the crocheting, who made what, what fabrics things are made of.   Coming across the  shredded bits of a Brookes Brothers shirt someone gave me who has now become a dear friend was really special.  Without the trees there as I made the piece this time, I seemed to go back over all the time I spent engaging with the people who worked on this and the transformative quality that period of time has had for me.  The beginning process of making MMMM really put me in the flux of my city, going to places and events and sites that where outside of my daily patterns.

I had the opportunity to talk to a huge range of people, many not really interested in art at all just going about their daily lives.  Sometimes awkward, sometimes so wonderfully surprising, being pulled out of my studio private space and talking about ideas with anyone has had a lasting effect on my practice as an artist.  I feel buoyed by all those who stepped towards the ideas I was trying to share, many trying something new, sitting and talking awhile with perfect strangers about whatever seemed to come up.

I’m excited to once more share all of these thousands of thousands of moments recorded in knotted fiber, and add to them.  I don’t know where yet….but a Community Crochet event will pop up in NY while I’m there, the 13th – 26th….stay tuned, or stay connected on my mailing list or twitter or Facebook. 

Meanwhile, in Seattle on Sept. 10th from 2-6pm, I’ll be participating in the giant community art event NEPO 5K, once more asking Seattlites to support this project by literally asking them to help me make the giant support ropes that will hold MMMM up in the Cathedral.  With 40 foot diameter columns I’ll need a heck more rope than I have ever had to make before.  I’ll be in the Korean Pagoda along the route once it gets to Beacon Hill on the I-90 bike trail….just follow everyone else.  Stop in the pagoda, relax a bit and crochet before continuing on your way.  I’ll have some water for you.

Please consider supporting the traveling of this installation through a small donation on Kickstarter: “MMMM community crochet installation heads to NYC”

Another beautiful installation in the trees: “Celebration and Fanfare” by Celeste Cooning

4 Culture’s SITE SPECIFIC Network is really pulling no punches this summer with surprising and innovative temporary public art.  Look at Celeste Cooning’s lovely installation….

Celebration and Fanfare | Site Specific.

Two Community Crochet events in Issaquah, Wa.!


Issaquah, Washington is hosting MMMM this summer, with the river going up again beginning August 16th at the Pickering Barn.  Until then, I’ll be working with the community during two Community Crochet events.  The first one is coming up.

Date/Time: Thursday, July 29, 2010     12:30 – 4:30 pm

Location: Issaquah Senior Center
75 NE Creek Way (it shares a parking lot with city hall)

Here’s the Facebook invite….

The next Community Crochet will happen at the Issaquah Farmers Market on August 22nd 21st, from 10 am – 2 pm, right next to the beginnings of the river installation.  The Farmers market is held in the parking lot of the historic Pickering Barn.

As usual, beginners welcome and all supplies are supplied!

Come join MMMM in Issaquah, Washington

Mater Matrix Mother and Medium is once again on  the move this summer, as part of 4Culture’s SITE SPECIFIC network, this time to Issaquah Washington.  The Issaquah Arts Commission has invited myself and artist Paul Margolis to be artists in-residence at the beautiful park at the historic 19th-century Pickering Barn, as we reinvision MMMM from August 17th – 26th, right adjacent to one of the widest and most pristine sections of Issaquah Creek.

In support of this ever-changing artwork, the Arts Commission will host me at three community crochet events throughout this summer at various locations around Issaquah.  Please come to the first Community Crochet event on July 2nd during ArtWalk Issaquah, from 5-9pm, at the old Lewis Hardware in Historic Downtown Issaquah, the future site of the artEAST Art Center.

This free crochet workshop is for anyone and everyone to join in the continued creation of this large 225-foot community project. All skill levels welcome, especially beginners, I’ve even taught four year olds to crochet! All materials provided. Drop in or stay for a while.

Each time this giant fiber river is installed, the installation is reinvigorated — new pieces are added, old ones transformed, with the river taking on the shape of the landscape it is contained within, just as water does.  Please join in!

Sponsored by the Issaquah Arts Commission and 4 Culture SITE SPECIFIC.  Special thanks to artEAST.


DATE: July 2nd, 2010

TIME: 5-9pm

LOCATION: Lewis Hardware (artEAST’s future Art Center)

95 Front Street North

Issaquah, Washington 98027

If you’d like to keep abreast of the movements of MMMM, join the Facebook page!

MMMM on the move….first to Kent, Wa., then…..

boxed up, under 200 lbs.

I’ve really always wanted this for this project, and it’s beginning to happen.  MMMM is hooked up with 4Culture’s SITE SPECIFIC program, and is starting to travel.  Since the issues and questions behind this work aren’t really just bound to Seattle, it only makes sense for me to try to bind as many people together as possible, from art curators, administrators and artists  to a seniors knitting club from Georgia, to preschoolers to art bloggers .

at Agnes Scott College, Atlanta

Issues such as  what makes community happen, what has happened to the “sacredness” of water that ALL of our human ancestors felt, what happens when you sit and talk with people you don’t know, what happens when you try to do something you’ve never done before and what happens when you just go with the process rather than product….I’d like to see what happens when I put these questions to as many different people as choose to jump into this.

I also want to see what happens when the piece ages.  One of my main conceptual influences was, afterall, the Clootie Well, where the very magic was in the rotting of the cloth, the knot unbinding.   What will it look like when some parts of the river are a few years old while others are new?  The piece came back from Atlanta with a slight but beautiful sun-bleached feel (please someone help me find a way to put this up in the desert!).   It also had the invigorating smell of laundry dried on the line when it returned from Atlanta, while the Seattle woods left it with the musky smell of moss and fire.  What will it smell like after Issaquah, Wa. and NYC (it’s going to both places!)

But first it’s going to interact with another artwork bound to the earth, Herbert Bayer’s Earthworks in Mill Creek Canyon in Kent, Wa., and part of Kent Arts Commission’s Earth Day celebration.  I’ll be installing it in the park from April 17th until Earth Day.  But before that, on Sat. April 10th, the Kent Senior Center, across the street from Earthworks Park, will be hosting me for a community crochet event.

So, please Kentians, come add your knots and loops to this growing piece!!

Workshop Date: April 10, 2010

Workshop Location:

Senior Activity Center , ROOM 6

600 East Smith Street, Kent, WA 98031


-Time:      12 noon – 4pm

As always, all skill levels welcome, all genders, all ages, all backgrounds!  If you take a few deep breaths with me, anyone can crochet.  And thank you Renaissance Yarns, in Kent,  for posting about the event!!

“Zuster Sweostor Systir” opens at Ohge Ltd. Gallery, Seattle, on Feb. 4th, 2010


“Zuster Sweostor Systir”, a companion show to my project from this past spring and summer “Mater Matrix Mother and Medium” , opens on First Thursday, Feb. 4th 2010 at  Ohge Ltd. Gallery, Seattle.  The show features a film made in collaboration with Ian Lucero, created out of Zoe Scofield and Morgan Henderson’s performance from MMMM, performance artifacts, as well as photographs created in collaboration with Jennifer Zwick, performance photos by Juniper Shuey, as well as paper quilts and objects and photos created in collaboration with Paul Margolis that came out of my continued fascination with the fabricated woods we find around Seattle.

MMMM involved me in highly collaborative relationships with several artists, the Seattle public and, in a very real sense, a small patch of urban forest.  This sister show, coming a year after I began roving about hidden patches of forest all over Seattle, is a way to share these collaborations, these fertile offshoots that continued to instigate new work for me long after the very public part of MMMM was completed.

During my six weeks of residency at Camp Long in Seattle, spending long hours crocheting a fabricated river into the trees, I spent a great deal of time in quiet, face pressed to bark, watching ants travel, ducks tend to ducklings and watching small changes take place every day in my pond.  A giant Barred Owl watched me, and it all felt very viscerally wild.  But in between the quiet was the blast of horns from ships, a low hum of cars on the interstate and the weekly visit of the grounds keep with a leaf blower.  This forest, like most in Seattle — save for a few trees in Seward Park, has nothing to do with the deep mystery of the forest that was once here.  It is fabricated, tended, groomed, minded, the old pond filled with a hose when it gets too low.  An early photograph in the lodge shows the landscape barren, stripped of its organic past.  Zoe Scofield, on an early site visit, astutely observed how like a stage set it all was, and we intended to draw that out.  The theatricality of the park is like that of a 18th century folly, a ruin, at once referencing a romantic vision of nature as well as the human longing to experience something more sublime.  I felt something of that sublime, following that great owl that watched me midday, I went off trail until I stood below it.  And when its head glided around so that it could glare at me, warn me, I felt a jolt of instinct or electricity.  In the fabricated, tiny forests we tend, there is still buried the pull the human animal has always felt, to go back.  As the summer came to ending, and I cut down the river, folded it up, I came back to my site over and over again as the forest turned to fall.  With my son, I sifted for skeletal leaves on my hands and knees, just as we had sifted through dead leaves at the bottom of the pond looking for salamander egg sacks, finding the perfect lacy forms like Scandinavian lace discarded after a flood.  I wanted to sew the forest together into a blanket, organize it all, to prepare for the winter, the leaves the same color as my hair, everything going red to brown.  We found nurse logs feeding Turkey Tail fungus like crocheted ruffles, and orange mushrooms under which we buried a mouse.  On our hands and knees, it wasn’t urban recreation, but fairy tale.  I collected my hair and Hazel’s hair, had it spun into yarn, and we each took on our roles in a landscape both out of our reach and right there with us, as organic as it is artificial.