Dina Schwartz, Clam Shell Top, Creative Crochet
In last week’s edition of 1970s crochet artists I shared the info that I was able to find about Lannie Hart, including that she seems to be the same artist that previously went by the name Lannie Martowe. This week’s situation is similar … I found a Dina Schwartz and a Dina Knapp who appear to be the same person although I’m only about 90% certain of this fact.
Dina Schwartz in Creative Crochet
The first reference I saw about this artist was in the 1973 freeform crochet art book Creative Crochet by Niki Hitz Edson and Arlene Stimmel. Many of the artists who were featured in this book knew each other because they were all working in fiber arts together at The Pratt Institute art school in New York. I mention this because in the contemporary website for artist Dina Knapp her resume does not mention publication in Creative Crochet but does note that she went to this school around that time. That’s my first big indicator that Dina Schwartz and Dina Knapp are one in the same. The second is that there’s a clear similarity between this work and the later work by Dina Knapp.
The pieces that Schwartz has featured in Creative Crochet have a few things in common that seem significant to her style of the time:
- Colorful crochet work implementing happy colors that harken more to the 1960s than the 1970s!
- Implementation of tapestry crochet techniques to create patterns
- Common cropped top shape, often sleeveless but where they aren’t sleeveless then they have very interesting sleeves!
Creative Crochet explains that the sleeve immediately above is made from a combination of wool, mohair and metallics. I found this interesting because it is really rare to find references to the use of mohair yarn from this time. This combination of materials seems to be common throughout the pieces that she has in this book.
Dina Knapp in Art to Wear
Astra’s Dress, 1974, combination of wool tweed and wool fingering yarn
In researching these artists from the 1970s I always turn to as many book resources as I can. I looked for Dina Schwartz in Hard Crochet and the two books I have from Del Feldman written during the 1970s. However, her work doesn’t seem to be referenced there. The next time that I saw a reference to her was in the 1980s wearable art book Art to Wear. By now is when she’s using the name Dina Knapp.
Orchid Jacket, 1973, crochet with applique
This book is always the best reference I have for detailed information about the artists so this is where I really learned a lot about her. In fact, it starts with an interesting story about how she came to crochet. She was studying clay sculpture at Pratt at the time and she was home sick so she decided to play with crochet. (Undoubtedly she must have been influenced by all of the other artists at Pratt at the time who were also playing with crochet!) On that sick day she crocheted twenty hats in a row. She felt so productive and inspired that she immediately switched her art focus to fiber.
Frog Jacket, 1975, crocheted, pieced, stuffed and appliqued
This was not the only interesting insight that the book offers into Dina’s process. It also mentions that she would keep two projects going at once – one based on a drawing and another just an instinctive, spontaneous piece – and she would work from one to the other to avoid any boredom or repetition in her work.
The Whole Earth Tapestry, 1973
Dina loved that crochet allowed her to blend fashion, craft, art and design. She would also come to love that she could incorporate some level of mixed media work into her pieces. She worked with combining different types of wool, metallics, applique and eventually some sewn/quilted pieces into her wearable works. Her work throughout the 1970s was complex, textured and detailed, seeming to get darker and thicker as the decade continued. In keeping with the times, her work shifted towards more simplicity in design in the 1980s. Like many of the artists of that time, she began to produce some well-known works that were not crocheted, but much of her work did continue to be in crochet.
Fun Fact: Dina Knapp crocheted a tam style hat for Bob Marley that he was wearing when he was buried. (source)
Dina Knapp Today
See this image and loads of others on the Dina Knapp website
Like many of the other crochet artists from this time, Dina Knapp continues to work as an artist today. While some of those artists are working primarily in other art forms, Dina has maintained a strong body of work in both wearable and sculptural crochet. (She does also do other work, especially collage work.) Her bio shows that she has consistently produced work that has been in galleries, public spaces and publications. Her work has been in both group and solo exhibits in places as diverse as the Miami International Airport, San Francisco’s Legion of Honor and the window display of Doubleday Books. I will note, however, that the most recent work on her resume dates to about 2005 and the most recent events listed on her site date to 2007 so I’m not sure what the past five years or so have held for her. Her Facebook page lists her employer as the Florida Grand Opera where she works in costumes.