When most people think of radical street art, they think of graffiti. In Rosslyn, it looks more like yarn.
Last week, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District (BID) announced it was partnering with Artisphere, Arlington Public Libraries, and Arlington Public Art in a wholly unspontaneous yarn-bombing of Rosslyn’s streets and buildings. The kickoff began tepidly with a yarn-bombing of… Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hughes Hynes‘ office chair (shown, left). The public art project is essentially a promotional campaign for Rosslyn’s arts center Artisphere, whose revenue continues to fall short of expectations.
Known as a temporary form of street art, yarn bombing usually aims to brighten drab cityscapes and draw attention to local art, and it’s typically not announced or hatched by BIDs or local governments. Yet Rosslyn, it seems, has embraced it. The BID tasked its Public Art Coordinator Kim Ward with increasing the visibility of local art in Rosslyn, and with a group of contemporary artists, the BID decided yarn bombing was the kind of urban oddity that would capture people’s attention.
“I love that we are [yarn bombing] Rosslyn. Rosslyn is formal, and very little is made by hand. I’m excited by the idea of making something for the community that is handmade and soft and colorful, ” Ward says.
To create the art, Ward assembled a group of people in the Arlington area that are into stitching. Experienced yarnheads contacted other yarn and fiber enthusiasts, and the Guerrilla Stitch Brigade was born. The group—-a diverse, all-ages bunch—-will create all of the yarn bombs in the coming months, though they don’t want to divulge exactly when.
Public participation is encouraged: Anyone interested can stop by Artisphere Wednesday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. to pitch in. Contributors will build their own sections, and they’ll eventually be assembled onsite with the direction of creative lead Jennifer Lindsay. The Guerrilla Stitch Brigade plans to crochet and knit tree covers leading from the Rosslyn Metro Station via Wilson Boulevard to Artisphere.
Cecilia Cassidy, executive director of the Rosslyn BID, says her organization wants to make sure the community takes advantage of the urban arts center. Calling the yarn bombing project “cutting edge with a soft edge,” she says she hopes the parade of orange street art (which matches Artisphere’s logo) will not only entice the community to visit Artisphere, but also increase the visibility of art in an otherwise very gray part of Arlington. The yarn bombings are quasi-permanent and will be displayed as long as they last—-at least until February 2013, she says, when another secret public art project will be revealed.