Smithsonian Yarn Bombing Marks New Chiharu Shiota Exhibition

Yarn bombing the Smithsonian Castle gates for “Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota.
Yarn bombing the Smithsonian Castle gates for “Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota." Photo: courtesy the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries.

There’s been a yarn bombing in our nation’s capital, as knitters blanketed the gates of the Smithsonian Castle with six miles of red yarn for the Labor Day holiday weekend to mark the opening of Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The outdoor installation matches Shiota’s Over the Continents, which ties together 350 pairs of old shoes using four miles of the same bright red yarn.

The stunt was the brainchild of the Freer/Sackler’s marketing staff, many of whom learned to knit for the first time in preparation for this project. Word of mouth spread quickly, and a group of over 120 volunteers, including many area knitting enthusiasts, joined together over the course of two weeks to make the yarn bombing dream a reality.

Installation view of Chiharu Shiota's <em>Over the Continent</em> (2014), in “Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota" at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Photo: via Quartz.

Installation view of Chiharu Shiota’s Over the Continent (2014), in “Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota” at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Photo: via Quartz.

The yarn was installed overnight on Thursday, August 28, and “Perspectives” opened on Saturday, August 30. In addition to the castle’s iconic gates, the knitters also took their needles to the benches, poles, and fences lining the path to the Sackler.

“We were inspired by Shiota’s use of simple, everyday materials, her involvement of community in her projects, and the vibrancy of her choice of color,” explained the museum on its blog, Bento. “The yarn bomb is a way to honor that outside the museums and to inject a little bit of the unexpected into everyone’s Friday commute or weekend visit to the Galleries.”

The yarn bombing may be getting dismantled todayg, but Perspectives: Chiharu Shiota will be on view through June 7, 2015.


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