My whole life, I have been an “English person” (language, writing, the arts). In my world, being classified as such was an explanation–an excuse, even–for my lack of understanding and poor grades in math and science. “English person,” “math person”–is there validity to these distinctions? It is certainly pervading language in our culture. We categorize people in ways that isolate them from other possibilities.
In Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef project, I see a collision of two worlds I long thought resided in separate galaxies: Science and art. These women are educated, pioneering, thoughtful, and seem to have a wonderful sense of humor about this crazy, beautiful project which “resides at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft and community art practice, and also responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash” (find the full definition here).
I love the following descriptive piece from their website, which offers a glimpse of the sheer love, joy, and creative chaos that goes into this project:
“The two sisters curate the project together from their home in Highland Park, Los Angeles, where they dreamed up the Reef while watching episodes of Battlestar Gallactica and other television fantasies. Much of the Reef has been crocheted during long sessions of serial TV-addictions, including Battlestar, Zena Warrior Princess, Ugly Betty, Sex and the City, and Lost.The project has also been fueled by a continual diet of cinematic feminine energy from Claudia Cardinale‘s transcendent performance in Once Upon a Time in the West, to the ecstatic bad-girl frenzy of Denise Richards and Neve Campbell in Wild Things and Milla Jovovich‘s leavening grace in the Resident Evil series. Sometimes favorite films end up in the Reef itself when a videotape is crocheted into a coral form.”
The Crochet Coral Reef project is fascinating on so many levels. Perhaps one of the most simple is its intersection of science, math, and art. It gives hope to this science-fiction-loving, knitting, math-challenged, English nerd–that I can be more than one thing, and that curiosity might be reason enough to venture past the borders of “I can’t do that.” It reminds me that everything in our world–tangible and intangible–is constantly intersecting in a wild, gorgeous dance that defies categorization. It gives me courage to step out of stereotype.
I first learned about this project by listening to the On Being conversation between Margaret Wertheim and Krista Tippett. Also, check out Wertheim’s TED Talk about the Crochet Coral Reef!