Public Arts Board Plans to 'Yarnbomb' Downtown Birmingham This Fall
The weekend-long "yarnbombing" of downtown Birmingham is expected to take place Sept. 21-23.
Birmingham, prepare to get colorful.
If the plans of the city's Public Arts Board come to fruition, the streets and parks of downtown Birmingham will soon be adorned with colorful yarn and knitted creations as part of an attempt to "yarnbomb" the city.
The Birmingham Public Arts Board met last month to discuss the logistics of the project with interested knitters from Birmingham and the surrounding area, including business owners and residents.
What does yarnbombing — also known as yarnstorming and knitbombing — involve? According to Christian Wuerth, assistant to the city manager, volunteers will knit large-scale objects for placement on or near existing public art installations. Other potential spots for yarn art include trees, storefronts and city parking meters.
Though many of the final details have yet to be worked out — including a budget and many of the locations — members of the Public Arts Board hope the yarnbombing will take place during the weekend of Sept. 21-23, the same weekend as the Birmingham Street Art Fair. Kicking off the weekend will be a special "yarn-cutting ceremony."
Anticipation is already building. Sherrie Lendo, co-owner of Birmingham's Knitting Room, said she and several others from the Knitting Room attended the kick-off meeting in March, along with 20-25 other knitting fans.
"It sounds like a lot of fun," Lendo said, adding that the meeting was mainly a brainstorming session but attracted more participants than either Lendo or the organizers expected.
Wuerth said the Public Arts Board is in the process of obtaining permission from the city in order to make the project a reality. The board also has to obtain permission from the artists who created Birmingham's sculptures so they can be included in the yarnbombing.
However, Wuerth said the project will largely be driven by volunteers: whether that's through the manwork, the extra yarn and ideas.
"We have a very enthusiastic group," Wuerth said. "They're really excited about it and there's a lot of ideas floating out there."
Lendo said several employees at the store plan to participate in the yarnbombing, as well as several of their most devoted customers. The Knitting Room will also likely donate yarn, Lendo said.
Why yarnbombing? According to members of the board, the project seeks to unite the Birmingham community in an interactive art project, but also raise awareness for public art programs in Birmingham.
Currently, the Public Arts Board works with the Cultural Council of Birmingham/Bloomfield on the CityScapes program, which features several large-scale public sculptures scattered throughout Birmingham.
"By inserting the work of artists into city life, ideas can be encountered and explored on a daily basis," the group's website says.
Wuerth said the Public Arts Board plans to discuss a partnership with the Cultural Council for the yarnbombing project as well, especially as they look into fundraising options.
The Public Arts Board next meets at 6:30 p.m. April 18 at City Hall. The public is welcome, as is all feedback on ideas and potential yarnbombing locations.
And there is always room for more knitters, Wuerth said, whether you're an experienced crafter, a Girl Scout troop looking for merit badges or just a beginner.
"This is not a critique on your ability (as a knitter)," Wuerth said. "We're looking for people who are willing and able."