I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to a group of 6th grade students in Manhattan a short time ago, and while I was telling them about the art of spinning, weaving, knitting and so forth, I pulled out one of these sweaters. They were over joyed at the site of them and wanted to know where I was going to place the little guys. Totally comprehending the project, a few students even promised to try and convince one of their parents to knit and participate. So, I decided to have them help me in placing the sweaters around their school. They had a blast as they were deciding which ones to put where and who might find them. Of course, they were also scoping out the crowd as they wanted to be the ones to collect the sweater at the end of student pick-up. I love seeing the overwhelming enthusiasm that kids bring to a project. It is the same enthusiasm I have when I am in the studio teaching new students how to weave. If only we could all share that enthusiasm for everything we do that is important to our community’s well being!
Category Archives: Education
As a visually aware walker, I couldn’t pass this surface without posting a sweater. Used for posting no parking announcements, this panel is covered with the remains of staples from these posts. As it is also a posting place, a sweater seemed like an ideal object to put in the absence of the parking signs for this particular day. Keeping the sweater company are the rusted paper crumbles from these posted signs. Additionally, this sign post was adjacent to the YMCA of Evanston that recently held the Race Against Hate in June. And while this race was probably geared to the issues of racism, one of the contributing factors of racism is socio-economic divides that arise from inequalities of advantages such as education, housing, medical care and nourishment.
This sweater was placed last week at a Starbucks on Scottsdale Road and Thomas. The board was adjacent to the barista who observed me place the sweater on the board that was also adorned with a crayon drawing of the store. I am, like many out there, guilty of satisfying my own caffeine needs by frequenting such coffee places that specialize in quality coffee (although, just for the record, I drink low-quality coffee too). Every time I enter a Starbucks, I think of the cost of the product and the ability for someone to use the same amount of money to feed themselves. And, for my conservative friends out there who would argue that many times it is a lack of an individual’s motivation to obtain proper education and employment combined with fiscal responsibility that leads to homelessness and hunger, I would like to acknowledge that for some cases this may be true. But as I observe state budgets getting cut left and right which often target such social institutions as public education, employment services and health programs, I can’t help but wonder if anyone in the near future will be able to afford the luxuries of a cup of coffee. A recent post on Facebook offers the following facts:
The average salary for teachers after 25 years of service is $67,000.
The average income of the top 25 hedge fund managers in 2009 was $1 billion.
So, on average, one top hedge fund manager makes as much as 15,000 top teachers.
(courtesy Martin Schiffenbauer, NY Times)
I can’t help but to think about the inequality this statement represents in our society as I sip my high priced coffee and continue to knit mini-sweaters that might possibly make people think and react.
This ended up being hilarious as I was attracted to the info kiosks on campus (on which I had placed a sweater earlier last semester), and wanted to see if I could place it on this specific site as it had been wrapped in caution tape. When I came by the next time to place the sweater, the caution tape was removed and these promotional posters of Sheriff Joe Arpaio was plastered all over the kiosk. I searched for a place to tuck the sweater between flyers or under some tape that was accessible and ended up placing it here. It was completely by coincidence that it ended up underneath the personalized “graffiti” written on the poster. I was focused on capturing the “tent city” portion of the flyer and didn’t notice the hot pink lettering until I had already walked away. Well, let’s just say I contributed to this conversation some how. I am wondering who did show up to his talk as most people on campus really despise Sheriff Joe. And to think he will continue to argue for placing more people in overcrowded jails at the cost of $30K per year to tax payers during state budget cuts to education is mind boggling. Maybe, just maybe, if people are educated and had support from the beginning of life within their communities, they wouldn’t end up being a costly burden to our societal health. But what do I know. I am just an artist with a crazy idea that each individual can make a difference in one’s community, no matter how small.
This sweater was knitted and placed by Pamela and as you can see, highlights the beautiful greens found in these delicious looking apples. Food is such an interesting placement for these sweaters as of course many people who are still in their homes might be struggling with the ability to provide their family with fresh healthy foods. This could result in being situated in a food desert, a region that doesn’t provide an actual grocer who provides such foods, or due to cost as people living on fixed incomes also struggle to obtain high quality fresh food.
And, while these apples sit so prettily in their display cases, I can’t help but recall the image in my head of strawberry pickers that I just saw on Highway 1 in California just south of Santa Barbara last week. This image here is from an article in the Atlantic Monthly that details the life of migrant workers and our food industry. It’s worth a read as is informative and captures what I witnessed while passing through such areas. The irony of this image is that only a few miles south of these fields filled with hunched over workers are gigantic homes dripping with ostentation as they sit precariously upon the sandy hills overlooking the ocean. But, then again, I am sure the sisters and brothers, mothers or fathers or other distant family members are probably cleaning those homes for nearly identical wages.
Spring is in the air across the country, which means people are getting out and about. Terri knitted and placed this sweater at the local library where I happen to know is used by many who even struggle to keep warm during the cold months of winter. Likewise, it will also be a refuge in the summer (especially when you live in the hot desert) when the cost of cooling a tiny room can be prohibitive. I love finding these community boards. It’s such a great way to casually interact with potential joiners and activists who want to contribute to a larger community sphere somehow. The title of the upcoming presentation with our issues with China is also interesting as it poses many questions I am sure many Americans are asking regarding jobs vacating beyond our shoreline. Open discussion and dialogue is necessary for achieving any kind of change, and while there are many out there that might disagree on how to best manage our public spending, I don’t think that many would support inhumane treatment of individuals who are without shelter and proper nourishment. Of course, it’s great to use the library as a nexus for dialogue as it is also a symbol of our freedom to acquire information and hopefully in the long run, be more educated and open minded when we sit at the discussion table of disagreement when it comes to matters of social policy.
I couldn’t resist placing this sweater here among these letters. I was walking around downtown Mesa looking for places to place sweaters when I came across a store called FOUND. Of course, I had to walk in as it seemed to resonate on many different levels with this project, Found Objects. The store provides customers with both vintage and new items for home decor. After speaking with the owner and trying to convince him that this solicitation of sorts was for social consciousness rather than personal gain, I was able to photograph the sweater. I am not sure exactly where the sweater will land as I gave him permission to place the sweater in any location he saw fit. If you happen to be browsing along in the arts district of Mesa, keep a look out for this store as well as the neighboring store, as it might be hiding out somewhere amongst the amazing finds.
Sweater #129, also knitted and felted, is the 11th sweater currently in Cairns, Australia. It accompanies another sweater knitted and placed by Terri Minkin at the Cedar Valley Retreat Center. As a place that inspires peace and tranquility, Terri felt the immediate need to place a sweater in such a location. Especially during this time of year, I can only imagine the need for such places for everyone, and while this project highlights the immediate needs for shelter, emotional well being is also just as important. Many places that serve people who are at risk of being homeless also provide opportunities for social engagement that can fulfill such needs. A great opportunity to become socially involved is through a collaboration that Ann Morton, a MFA candidate at ASU is leading called 13 Fridays. If you happen to be in the Phoenix area, or want to also participate in knitting a sweater, then check out her blog that details this project.
This sweater actually has been out and about since the beginning of October as it was given to a passenger on a plane in Dallas en route to Phoenix. The passenger’s interest in the product as well as the cause seemed to warrant public placement as I refrain from placing sweaters in air ports due to security issues, etc. This little designer sweater reminded me of Coco Chanel and a by-gone era. The recipient of the sweater was a nurse, so the compassionate nature of others seemed to strike a chord with this finder.
This lovely item was knitted by contributor Terri Minkin and actually highlights a very important fact about the homeless which is the ability to have access to an address. Guess what! You need an address to get a social security card which you need in order to be provided many of the available state and federal interventions. But, if you don’t have a permanent address, you can’t get a social security card sent to you or provide documentation to get a library card let alone additional necessities. Way to go Terri for highlighting this issue!