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 matermmm@gmail.com!

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.

‘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”

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.

Come hear “Water Calling” artists talk at the Seattle Art Museum OSP

crocheting at "Salmon Return" at OSP

I’ll be speaking tomorrow about MMMM at Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, along with Britta Johnson and Stokley Towles, who will be speaking about their “Water Calling” projects as well.  It should be informal, informative and fun, and the Sculpture Park is breathtaking as always, even in the rain.  The OSP actually hosted me three times for crocheting for MMMM, so I’m thrilled to come back and present about how it all turned out.

Creatively Speaking: The Artist’s Point of View

Water Calling: Artist Panel

November 14, 2009

2–3 pm

PACCAR Pavilion, at the Olympic Sculpture Park

Commissioned by the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, the Water Calling temporary art and short film projects feature artists working in various disciplines exploring water—examining its flow and its history, offering ways to care for our urban watersheds and celebrating water’s mythical power. In this afternoon program, experience a selection of some of the projects and hear directly from artists Mandy Greer, Stokley Towles and filmmaker Britta Johnson.

The Creatively Speaking series provides a forum for artists to explain the philosophies underlying their work and for audiences to ask the questions they rarely have a chance to ask.

Free and open to the public.

Registration required if planning to attend.

via Seattle Art Museum: Event Detail.

Time to crochet again at Olympic Sculpture Park for “The Salmon Return”, 9/19/09, noon-3pm

come crochet at the Olympic Sculpture Park!!

come crochet at the Olympic Sculpture Park!!

After the whirlwind of crocheting this spring and summer, I can hardly believe my eyes that it is time again to work on “Mater Matrix Mother and Medium”, and invite you to join me, tomorrow from noon – 3pm!  I’ll be making yards and yards of the big crocheted ropes that I need to reinstall the Fiber River on the campus of Agnes Scott College in Atlanta , hosted by the Dalton Gallery, beginning on Oct. 1st, 2009.  So, if you never got to crochet with me or are dying for more, please join me tomorrow at SAM‘s Olympic Sculpture Park for their family programs event “The Salmon Return”.  They have once again invited me to come join them with a whole host of other programs for kids and adults such as….

Special performance: Roger Fernandes tells stories about salmon at 1 pm.

Visit activity stations by:

  • City of Seattle’s Restore Our Waters and Seattle Public Utilities
  • Colorific Kids face painting
  • Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
  • Mandy Greer—Mater Matrix Mother and Medium
  • The Nature Consortium
  • People for Puget Sound
  • Salmon-Safe and the Network for Business Innovation and Sustainability (NBIS)
  • TASTE Café

University of Washington’s Wetland Ecosystem Team

Agnes Scott College (kinda looks like UW, right?)

Agnes Scott College (kinda looks like UW, right?)

The River stays up until Aug. 23rd for the Arts-in-Nature Festival!!

The Nature Consortium … teaching environmental lessons through the creative arts and hands-on conservation projects – naturec.org.

Trying to tie up some loose end in the private life…I have neglected wrapping up on the blog about the performance , the response to the performance, and what will happen in the future with MMMM.  First, it’s run has been extended!  If you have been to Camp Long since July 31st, you will see that it is still up!  I check on it often and make little repairs, and still continue to speak with people about it while I am there.  And tell everyone that it will stay up for the incredible Arts-in-Nature Festival on Aug. 22 – 23rd, 11-9 and 11-6.  I will be doing some sort of crocheting workshop on those days, but don’t have the details yet…I adore Camp Long, every inch of it, and am so excited to see the place transformed into one big art party!  Every cabin filled with sound installations and tons of other stuff!!  Come say farewell to the river!

I’ve got some deadlines over the weekend , and then will get back to my loose ends with this blog…getting pictures up of the performance!