One of the things that I really want to do on this blog is to highlight the work of all of the amazing, impressive crochet artists who are out there doing creative work out there in the world. Who better to start with than Olek? This artist has gained a significant amount of attention lately even among the mainstream media. That’s because her crochet is extreme crochet. She doesn’t just make clothing and cozies. She makes large-scale sculptures, costumes and guerilla crochet art. It’s amazing.
A little bit more about Olek
Some basic information about Olek from her website:
- Her given name is Agata Oleksiak.
- She was born in Poland where she got a college degree in cultural studies. She later moved to New York.
- She originally got interested in crochet because it was something that she could do while she was watching movies. I absolutely understand this because I love to watch films and shows but can’t just sit still and do nothing during marathons of movie-watching. I love to keep my hands busy with a crochet project while watching what’s on the screen.
- She’s won several awards, participated in various internships and had multiple shows around the world.
Olek in the news
Olek recently gained a lot of attention from the media when she crocheted a huge pink and purple cozy for the Charging Bull on New York’s Wall Street. The bull was placed on the street in 1989 by a sculptor named Arturo di Modica. Olek wanted to honor the sculptor and gift the city with her art in an act of guerilla crochet. She covered the bull with a cozy. Sadly, city officials weren’t in love with her crochet art and rapidly tore down her work!
Although it’s the news about the Wall Street Bull that’s gotten the most attention recently, it was actually another news story about Olek’s work that first introduced me to her. It was a story that circulated during the opening of her New York show in Fall 2010 (which is featured in the short video clip above). As you can see, the show was really elaborate. The headlines at that time explained that Olek was essentially obsessed with crochet, using every single thing in her life as inspiration for her crochet art. Text messages, images from movies and other every day items are included in room-sized pieces of crochet art. I was impressed by the absolute commitment that she had shown to the art of crochet.
What is guerilla crochet?
The Charging Bull cozy is just one piece of Olek’s work that is part of her contribution to the guerilla crochet movement. What exactly is guerilla crochet? It simply means that you take your crochet to the streets, adding it to public spaces where others can enjoy it. It’s the equivalent of graffiti art but it’s done with crochet hooks and yarn. Olek started participating in this when she covered a bicycle with a crocheted cozy and she’s been adding to her efforts ever since. The Charging Bull is her biggest guerilla crochet project to date.
My favorite examples of Olek’s crochet art
1. Camouflage crochet. Olek crochets intricate camouflage backgrounds. Then she creates crochet clothing that blends in with the backgrounds. Models pose in provocative stances against these backgrounds. The effect definitely causes a double take!
Image from a terrific Weburbanist article on the artist
2. Crochet costumes. I am fascinated by the intersection of art and fashion where crochet meets. It can be either or it can be both. Olek’s costumes really highlight this fact. The costumes are large and whimsical and worthy of the runway.
3. Crocheted balloons. I don’t even know how Olek has managed to pull this off but I’ve seen work on her website showing her huge elaborate sculptures that are made from crocheted together balloons. I love the idea of crocheting with untraditional materials so I think this is great!
Photo from FickleFibers
Question of the Day
What do you think of Olek’s work? Many people love it and others hate it but it’s tough to be indifferent to it if you care at all about crochet. I’d love to know what people think of this artist. Share your thoughts in the comments!