2013 was the year of the bridge…2014 the year of the newspaper

I was honored to co-direct Knit the Bridge (KtB) the amazing outreach project of Fiberart International 2013.   KtB was a community made fiber art installation or yarn bombing of the Andy Warhol Bridge in Pittsburgh, Pa. It was the brain child of lead artist Amanda Gross.  It was a dream of a project so many incredible individuals gave so much time, brain power, effort, enthusiasm and energy to make it happen.

Knit the Bridge - Andy Warhol Bridge Pittsburgh, Pa
For practically 2 years I devoted my time almost exclusively to this project.  It was installed in August, 2013 and removed one month later.  We have laundered almost every stitch, donated hundreds of panels and re-purposed many of the black railing covers as scarves and blankets with many more to go.  Not to mention the challenge of repurposing all the material we made with knitting machines to cover the towers.

Bridge tower material

The response to our project has been over- whelming such an incredible opportunity! I have learned and continue to learn so much.  Although I have a master's in social work my area of concentration was primarily clinical; my practice was in medicine which required strong advocacy skills.  With KtB I found myself learning a great deal about community organizing.  As a result I am getting reacquainted with my social work roots after years of concentrating on developing my artistic voice.  My art has always been socially and politically driven but currently I find myself considering ways to integrate art and social work.

As I read and think I have made a commitment to a newspaper collage a day.  As luck would have it I was invited to exhibit in Lost and Found at the Hoyt Art Center in New Castle, Pa.  and had an opportunity to debut this new series What's black and white and red all over? Thinking in many different directions not all fiber…

Mug shots


PaMdora said...

Wow, of course I had read about Knit the Bridge, but had not noticed that you were co-director. Maybe that wasn't mentioned in any of the articles I saw. What an amazing project, and I so understand how it could take two years of your life. Last year I started a yarn bomb group in my city and worked on some ambitious projects (not nearly as ambitious as yours) and also became involved in winning a big grant for a new arts center. So needless to say, got very little of my own personal work done. Now I'm ready to focus back on my own work and glad you are too!

Penny Mateer said...

Thanks for stopping by Pam. I was not the face of the project I'm a behind the scenes kinda gal so I was interviewed only occasionally thank goodness. Amanda Gross was and still is front and center she had the brilliant idea and interest in community engaged public art. The project awakened me from my social work slumber. So cool to merge my two selves.

It is very different to devote your time exclusively to a project that is not derived from your own work, needs you and takes on a life of it's own isn't it?. For me truly life altering and I would do it again in a minute. BUT, after hibernating this winter, working on my collage project I am getting back into a groove. I am now beginning to get really jazzed about what lies ahead. I even have a quilt on the wall woo-hoo!

Glad to hear you are re-emerging it takes an entirely different energy to start a group doesn't it? Not to mention the grant scene and regional politics of the art world. Eye opening don't ya think? Look forward to see what you are up to next!

jeanne Marklin said...

Hi Penny,
I knew we had a lot in common - I'm a former clinical social worker too. My activism takes me to campaign trails, community volunteering and online preaching :-)

I hope we meet up again! Any chance you are going to the SAQA CONFERENCE IN May?

Penny Mateer said...

Hi Jeanne,

I just saw your comment I am not as on top of the blog thing as I should be.

Wow! A former clinical social worker how cool is that! Indeed we do have lots in common.

Unfortunately I won't be able to go to the conference this year but for a good reason the majority of the Protest Series is going to be installed at the same time.

We are thinking about moving to Southern Vermont and plan to explore Western Mass. so we will be coming your way I would love meet up. I will keep you posted.