26 February 2016

Knit the Bridge by multiple artists

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Outdoor murals by their very nature are temporary. Paint fades and chips – buildings get torn down – some beautiful artwork is lost except for photographs and memories. Some murals are around for a few years. Some for a few decades if we’re lucky. Few start out with a shelf life of only a few weeks though. We’ve decided that Knit the Bridge definitely qualifies as Pittsburgh public art, even if it will be gone next month. To us the yarn–bombing of the Andy Warhol Bridge is just a mural in a different medium. Throughout the city we have murals done in paint, tile, glass, and even plants. Why not one in yarn?

The artists on this project have been working all year on it. Individuals and groups have been knitting their small part of this very large project in homes and community centers. This weekend (9–11 Aug 2013) the project is coming together – literally – as volunteers take all of the individual sections and cover the bridge structure with colorful panels.

The work in progress:

We took these photos Monday morning, 12 Aug 2013. They didn’t quite finish the project on time, but most of it is done at this point. Lots of people were enjoying, photographing, and admiring the work this morning.

Tuesday after the bridge re–opened again we made one last visit to see what had changed. We really couldn’t see anything different from Monday, but we ran into a volunteer doing a little reinforcement on the railing panels and stopped to talk. She said that Tuesday’s work had to do with securing the panels on the towers. She also explained that the panels on the towers were the only sections that were machine knitted. They were still done locally – just on a sort of loom–like device rather than with the traditional knitting needles.

Knit the Bridge was a project initiated by the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh. On their website they describe the project's intention to celebrate the history of Pittsburgh as a city of bridges and steel as well as the region’s thriving, contemporary arts scene.

This is not the first yarn–bombing we’ve seen around Pittsburgh, but it’s certainly the most ambitious. For anyone still wondering what, exactly yarn bombing is, you can think of it as a victimless graffiti. An outlet of creative expression in public places that can be easily removed with no damage. It’s been an international occurrence for at least several years. Google it sometime and you’ll find entire buses covered in yarn. Locally, we pulled this photo out of our past bike ride encounters file:

Whether or not that particular event on the Mr Rogers statue once looked like an actual sweater or not we don’t know. We only observed it in that condition. There was a photo on twitter recently showing the statue in a full, red sweater that looked great. Another attempt? Just an earlier version of the above?? No clue. No doubt that this bit of fabric graffiti was meant as a respectful tribute to a Pittsburgh icon though.

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