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.
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.
White Walls Gallery in San Francisco recently opened side-by-side solo shows by two artists who reference crafting techniques in their fine art practices: Olek and Jet Martinez. Titled after a line from The Little Prince, Olek’s “I Haven’t a Single Explorer on My Planet” is an immersive installation in the gallery’s project space. Visitors were invited to remove their shoes and enter the floor-to-ceiling crocheted room, which contained a crocheted boat complete with a sail made out of multi-colored doilies. Olek explained that the boat was an intended symbol for freedom and the ability of the individual to create his or her own happiness. When times get tough, you can either sink or sail triumphantly forward. Read more after the jump.
While Olek’s new solo exhibition “Santa Agatha, La Torera” at Delimbo Gallery in Seville draws on Spanish folklore, the new body of work continues the thread of self-exploration that runs through her recent crochet endeavors. The title “Santa Agatha” mythologizes the artist (Olek was born Agatha Oleksiak) in an empowering and self-congratulatory statement. While her last solo show, “The End is Far” at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in early 2013, dealt with issues of violence and sexual harassment (for more in-depth coverage, see my feature on Olek in Hi-Fructose Vol. 29), “Santa Agatha” comes as a radiant re-emergence from a dark time in the artist’s life. Read more after the jump.
Russia has been in the news lately for its government’s stance against gay rights, and Olek (who is featured in our forthcoming issue, Hi-Fructose Vol. 29) was abhorred. “The recent government decision regarding gay rights in Russia made me want to boycott the country,” she wrote on her Huffington Post blog. But after some consideration, Olek boarded a plane to St. Petersburg with God-knows-how-many pounds of camouflage crocheted fabric. Her mission was to swathe the facade of Galeria, a huge downtown shopping center, with a crochet rainbow as a pro-LGBTQ message that anyone could appreciate on an aesthetic level. Olek sent over some photos of the creation of “Russia’s Pride.” Read more after the jump.