“Podrán cortar todas las flores pero nunca detendrán la primavera.” (They can cut all the flowers, but never stop the spring.) – Pablo Neruda Olek sends this message of support to the gay community all over the world, especially in South America, with her latest piece. The Polish-born street artist (featured in HF Vol. 29) has just covered Santiago’s Obelisk Balmaceda monument with rainbow-colored crochet work. See more after the jump!
While some artists view yarn bombing as purely decorative, Olek (HF Vol. 29) often swathes objects in crochet to draw attention to important socio-political issues. Known for the outspoken messages in her large-scale, colorful work, she was recently invited to create a piece in New Delhi, India for the St+art Delhi street art festival. For her canvas, Olek chose one of the local homeless shelters called “Raine Basera,” which provide people with temporary lodging overnight. With the help of legions of volunteers and donations from Indian fashion labels, Olek beautified the shelter with bright yellow, purple, and red crocheted fabrics that evoke India’s famously vibrant textiles. Though it’s visually alluring, the piece ultimately imparts a sobering message about the reality of poverty in New Delhi — and many major cities around the world.
French artist Frederique Morrel (Vol 28) breathes new life into old taxidermy. She calls it the animals’ revenge, under appreciated as a stuffed head on a wall and reborn as something to be admired. Simultaneously, the dying art of embroidery is made new and contemporary. To Morrel, her sculptures symbolize a reimagining of oppulence, bringing to mind artists Olek and Karley Feaver. Morrel’s concept may sound simple: repurposing vintage tapestry that she collects from second-hand shops and covering animals with it, but it’s not.
Always searching for new applications for her crochet practice (see our coverage of her crocheted train and crocheted boat as well as our extensive feature in Hi-Fructose Vol. 29), Olek recently traveled to the Caribbean for an underwater installation in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Street art has been criticized for being a boy’s club, so for the few internationally-prominent female street artists out there, it has been vital to foster a sense of camaraderie across national borders. This May, StolenSpace Gallery in London brings together two prolific artists, Olek and Miss Van, for two side-by-side solo shows that are in direct dialogue with one another. The two artists are long-time friends and admirers of one another’s work, and though they have been included in many group shows and street art projects together (during Miami Art Basel last December, they created neighboring artworks in the public art nexus Wynwood Walls), this is their first joint gallery project.