The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef by the Institute For Figuring and Companions
On Exhibition at the Smithsonian
The Ladies Silurian Atoll by the Institute For Figuring. Photo © IFF
CORAL is teaming up with the Embassy of Australia and the Quiksilver Foundation to support an exhibition at the Smithsonian of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, a project created and curated by Margaret and Christine Wertheim at the Institute For Figuring. This thought-provoking exhibition combines the fields of mathematics, science, art, and coral reef conservation into a fascinating display of marine life.
Growing up in Queensland, Australia, the Wertheim sisters were inspired to call attention to the plight of the Great Barrier Reef. In 2005 they began crafting the Crochet Reef to help raise awareness about the urgency of protecting reefs worldwide. The reef is now on exhibition at the Smithsonian, featuring clusters of colorful chrocheted corals and other marine life made of yarn and recycled materials. The creation of these crafted organisims combines the mathematics of hyperbolic geometry—which appears in nature in the complicated forms of coral, sponges, and sea slugs—with the teachings of crochet techniques.
"Wooliness and wetness aren't exactly two concepts that you would initially pair together, but now this project reaches across five continents and has roots that extend into the fields of mathematics, marine biology, feminine handicraft, and environmental activism," said Margaret Wertheim, renowned science writer and Director of the Institute For Figuring. "It's taken on a viral dimension of its own, and in a beautiful way the development of the project parallels the evolution of life on Earth."
The Smithsonian Community Reef
|Christine Wertheim installing the People's Reef. Photo © IFF|
Over the past five years, the Institute For Figuring has worked with communities all over the world to produce local "satellite" reefs in places as far-flung as Chicago, New York, London, Melbourne, and Cape Town.
In association with the exhibition opening this fall, the museum has launched the Smithsonian Community Reef, the newest satellite of the Institute For Figuring's global Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project. Leading up to the exhibition, residents of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area will have the opportunity to participate in crocheting portions of the satellite reef, which will be on display as part of the exhibit.
The Smithsonian exhibition will be open to the public from October 16, 2010 – April 24, 2011 at the Sant Ocean Hall focus gallery in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. For exhibit details and hours, check out the Smithsonian's website.
We encourage you to visit the exhibit to learn more about coral reef conservation and see for yourself the creative sea of vibrant colors and fantastic reef structures portrayed through this dynamic art display.
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For more information about the Institute For Figuring's worldwide Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project and the communities around the world who are working on this citizens' response to the ecological crisis facing reefs today visit: www.crochetcoralreef.org.