Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting at SMoCA

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I’m pleased to announce that the beloved exhibition Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting is on tour, and has stopped at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona. Originally exhibited at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the show…

…looks at the unorthodox ways contemporary artists from around the globe transform the age-old crafts of knitting and lace making. Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting features 27 artists from seven countries–and showcases this surprising field of creative practice. Works range from Althea Merback’s microknit garments to large-scale site-specific installations.

Radical reformers in the world of knitting and lace making have overthrown the status quo from the inside out. In the space of ten years, knitting has emerged from the “loving hands at home” hobbyist’s den into museums and galleries worldwide. Knitting clubs meet in cities from San Francisco to Stockholm, while interactive knitting “performances” have been held in as seemingly unlikely places as the London Underground. Artist Sabrina Gschwandtner turns the traditional knitting circle into a participatory event, in which museum visitors can use knitting to engage in a dialogue about war.

The artists in this exhibition experiment with forms and techniques in the most novel and surprising ways, as they explore new relationships between structure, design, color and pattern. Yoshiki Hishinuma uses industrial knitting machines to create three-dimensional sculptures, (see above artwork Casablanca) some of which are also wearable. Industrial designer Niels van Eijk used lace techniques to create a lamp of optical fibers. Many of the artists examine pressing contemporary issues of globalization and the environment, in addition to exploring personal questions of identity and sexuality. Cat Mazza’s Knitoscope is computer software that translates video images into “knitted” images to educate the public about sweatshop labor. Freddie Robins’s Craft Kills is a self-portrait that confounds our idea as craft as a passive activity.

In addition to this fantastic show, there are oodles of public programs going on during the time the exhibition is up, including lectures and workshops. I will be offering a Soft Circuit Embroidery workshop on October 30.

Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

September 20. 2008 – February 1, 2009

7374 East Second Street

Scottsdale, AZ 85251


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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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