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Crochet Coral Reef founder to lead campus presentation, workshop
Friday, March 23, 2012

Crochet Coral Reef


Crochet Coral Reef

“Reefs, Rubbish and Reason” will be the focus of the presentation and workshop led by Dr. Christine Wertheim, co-creator of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project, who will be a guest speaker of the Department of Visual Arts and New Media’s Visiting Artist Program on Thursday, March 29, at 8:30 p.m. in 209 McEwen Hall.

She will also conduct a workshop on Friday, March 30, 10 a.m. to noon, at 321 Rockefeller Arts Center, to teach participants the technique of hyperbolic crochet in preparation for an ongoing student and community produced installation to be delivered to the campus in the spring of 2013.  Both novices and those with varying levels of crochet experience are welcome at the workshop.

The lecture presentation and workshop are free and open to students and the public. They are supported by a Fredonia College Foundation Carnahan-Jackson Humanities grant and co-sponsored by the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Sustainability Committee and Women’s and Gender Studies program.

Wertheim, of the California Institute of the Arts, and her sister, Margaret, co-founded the Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles to stage events and exhibits that lie at the intersection of art, science and pedagogy. In 2011, they were awarded the Theo Westenberger Grant for outstanding women artists in recognition of their Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project.

Since its modest beginning in the living room of the two sisters in 2005, the coral reef project – inspired by the Great Barrier Reef that stretches along the coast of Queensland, Australia -- has evolved into a worldwide movement engaging communities throughout the world.

A unique fusion of art, science, mathematics, marine biology, handicraft and community art practice, the coral reef project offers a response to the environmental crisis of global warming and escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash.

The fragile Great Barrier Reef is threatened by global warming and pollutants. In tribute to the reef, the two sisters started a project to crochet a woolen reef.

The inspiration for making crochet reef forms begins with hyperbolic crochet, a technique discovered by Cornell University mathematician Dr. Dana Taimina. Wertheim and her sister, an award-winning scholar and science writer, adopted and then modified these techniques to develop a whole grouping of reef-life forms. These methods spawned loopy “kelps,” fringed “anemones,” crenelated “sea slugs” and curlicued “corals.”

A simple pattern or algorithm is the basis for making these forms, and endless variations and permutations of shape and form can be produced by varying or mutating the algorithm. As a result, the crochet reef project becomes an on-going evolutionary experiment in which reefers throughout the world create an ever-evolving crochet “tree of life.”
Images and additional information on the coral reef project from the Institute for Figuring’s website can be viewed at: 


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