From our trip earlier this year to D.C.
Crochet Reef At Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum Is a Masterpiece of Yarn
From the photos, it seems surreal that yarn could be made to look like aquatic creatures and coral reefs, and yet they really manage it. Beyond being beautiful to look at, the exhibit also has an environmental message. The exhibit is the work of at least 800 women and men, ranging from a three-year-old to a Centenarian, who hope that through their work they can attract attention to the degraded state of the World’s coral reefs. Twenty percent of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed in the past few decades. Global warming, ocean acidification, overfishing and overpopulation are all threats that face coral reefs.
The organizers, Margaret and Christine Wertheim, are from Australia, where the project, which has since traveled around the world, started began.The sisters, an artist and a scientific journalist, wanted to highlight the blight of their beloved Great Barrier Reef. Beyond being beautiful and carrying an important message, the exhibit also shows the hyperbolic geometry of coral. In 1997, mathematician Daina Taimina recognized that the crochet stitch represents this complex geometry.
Wherever the exhibit travels to, the Wertheim sisters encourage the local community to create its own reef. These community efforts remove some of the bleakness of the message that the colorful coral reefs may not be around forever, and provide hope that by working together maybe we can avert disaster, and the coral reefs will outlast us after all, even if that three-year-old ends up being a centenarian.