Crochet artist Sheila Pepe caught my attention after I recently read a news article about her current exhibition. It’s called Common Sense and it’s been traveling around but has now landed at the he said, she said exhibition and event in the Chicago area. Common Sense is an interactive crochet art exhibit that I find completely intriguing. It is described as: “Incorporating ideas of abstraction and construction, the large-scale crochet “drawing” allows audiences to participate in the work by unraveling the material to be used for their own creations.” I love the idea that the art is the product as well as the process and I love how it gives a nod to the way that crocheters repurpose knit and crochet items from the past to make them into new modern creations.

More about crochet artist Sheila Pepe

Sheila Pepe is a New Jersey born crochet artist who lives and works in New York City. She has an extensive background in art with a BA, a BFA in Cermatics, an MFA and training in blacksmithing and painting and sculpture. Wow! She has been showing her work in solo exhibitions since 1994 and she has a terrific body of work to her name. She has won numerous awards, the most recent of which was the 2009 Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. She is also an art teacher who guest lectures regularly at other schools.

Some History

“Born in 1959, I am one among many feminists who resides in that leaky region between the Baby-Boomers and the Gen X-ers. I came out as a Lesbian Feminist (for a time, Lesbian Separatist) in Boston in 1981, which means I was also among a group of women who were proud to call ourselves Feminists just as it was waning in fashion. Soon after, Feminism was embattled in what I remember as “the Culture Wars,” and I can recall my resistance to the “split,” promising myself to invest in Feminism’s basic promise: to stand as a woman empowered to name all of the disparate parts of her life, and in doing so, take the first step in building bridges toward social justice. Then as now, Feminism is something lived everyday, and as such, lives in my work.” source

Pepe has been working with string, rope and yarn as material for art since 1999. By doing crochet, she feels like relating to women historically and to a new generation of peers -including men- who are fascinated by this medium all over the world. She calls her installations “improvisational crocheted drawings” and sees them as colorful drawings in 3-dimensional space. Her aim is to preserve handicraft in a post-mechanical reproduction digital age. Furthermore, she uses traditional material to create an interdisciplinary environment engaging with art, architecture, biology, psychology and physical science.” source

Examples of Sheila Pepe’s crochet art

The creativity of Pepe’s crochet art speaks for itself. Take a look:

Women are from Mars with Crocheted Thing, 2010

Your Granny’s Not Square, 2008

Greybeard, 2008

Mutable Thing, 2011

Mr. Slit in situ
Break the Rules! Sammlung Hieber/Theising, Mannheim Kunstverein, Germany, 2008

Crafters’ Tent, part of The Big Draw, 2007

Wearable Wrap.
Commissioned by Lion Brand Yarn, 2006

Food for thought

Pepe’s crochet art is clearly abstract. Does it appeal to you or are you more interested in clean line crochet art?


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


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