The tree between Pearlman Hall and  the Usdan Student Center has been yarn  bombed! The bright colors contrast with  the barren branches of a tree in the winter,  while the green moss and the green sections of yarn cause a moment of similarity.  Over the time that the piece has spent on  the tree, it has weathered many of the elements, including snow and rain. The yarn  has started to become one with the tree, as  it felts to the branches and trunk. The piece  has been covered in snow and ice crystals,  protecting the tree from the natural elements and keeping it warm during the coldest week of the year. 

“Yarn bombing” is a practice that was  established and gained popularity in the  early 2000s, where artists cover natural and  manmade objects in the world with yarn.  This can be knitted materials, crochet materials and more! The known origin of this  art comes from shop owner Magda Sayeg in  Texas, who was tired of the bland commercial landscape that she had to work at every  day. She knitted a small cozy for her shop’s  door handle, and gained a lot of attention  from locals and shop visitors. This led to  her work on some bigger projects, including working to establish the yarn bombing  crew, a practice that became common for  larger projects. 

Yarn bombing is a form of social activism. It has been claimed as a feminist  movement, as it was a way to get involved  with the graffiti scene, which is traditionally seen as a more masculine, male dominated activity. Instead, a very diverse group  of primarily feminine identifying people  from all corners of the world reclaimed  the traditionally feminine arts of knitting  and crocheting as a way to give back to and  positively impact the community. 

 In a Jan. 19 email correspondence with  The Justice, Ingrid Schorr explained  that in a social post she chose to use the  wording of “yarn art” instead of “yarn  bombing” “out of respect for those affected  by violence.” An opinion piece in The Forward reads, “the word ‘bomb’ obliterates  the good will, consciousness-raising and  well-meaning mischief-making by those  who see the great outdoors as their yarn  canvas.”  

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CREATIVE SCENE: Prof. Schorr works to support student art and creative endeavors.

While yarn bombing, or yarn art, is often  used just to bring softness and color to a  space, it can also be used to spread awareness politically. Many yarn bombers have  made statements through this creative  form of peaceful protest. This art has been  used as an element of the Black Lives Matter movement, spreading awareness regarding domestic violence, and many more  similar causes. 

This is not the first time that the Brandeis  campus has been yarn bombed. On Jan. 19,  The Justice sat down with Schorr, the  director of Arts Engagement and Communication, to discuss this piece of art. She  expressed her love for art across campus,  explaining that while many students at  Brandeis are inherently creative, they often pick a course of study that leads to a  higher-paying career. Moments of art such  as this throughout the buildings that house  many academic disciplines tie the creative  community together and inspire others to  think outside of the box. 

One of the instances of yarn bombing  previously as recalled by Schorr was a  small section of trees that had been knitted  sweaters to keep them warm. This was a  community project with many participants  and one student leader. Schorr recalled it  with fondness.  

Schorr distributes grants every year to  students through the Leonard Bernstein  Festival of the Creative Arts, and yarn  bombing was something that had previously received a grant. The recipient of this  grant was interested in the intersection of  hard metals and soft wool, ultimately proposing creating some hand made covers for  some of the tables and benches outside of  Bernstein Marcus. This idea was approved  and she set about creating these pieces. 

These covers stayed up through much of  the spring semester and the following summer, before she decided to take them down  due to fading. Yarn bombing can never be a  permanent installation, as it is not meant  to last forever. Especially those exposed to  many natural elements have a relatively  short shelf life. That is the beauty of yarn  bombing — it is easily removable. Once the  artist decides that the art has served its intended purpose, it can be easily taken down  without causing any harm to the surrounding environment and surface that it was  placed upon. 

While not harmful, many knitters and  crocheters decide to keep these installations a secret, often sneaking around with  handfuls of yarn in the dead of night. The  beauty of them is how they appear, often  without permission or notice. All of a sudden, something that you walk by every  day is just a little bit more beautiful. The  tree outside of the Usdan Student Center is  one that countless students walk by every  day on their way to a psychology lecture  or grabbing a coffee from Dunkin. Now  that walk is just a little bit more colorful,  thanks to the knitted work of art that will  one day disappear.