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Baldwin embraces ‘yarn bombing’ beautification

Colorful community art project returns

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By April 11, most of the exterior of the Baldwin Public Library building will be covered in colorful knitted and crocheted fabrics, as a part of a “yarn bombing” community art project. 

The project, which began last fall, is a community art exhibit cosponsored by the library and the Community Coalition of Baldwin, featuring knitted and crocheted creations that have been made and donated by residents, and people from neighboring communities, of all ages. The hope is to decorate the library’s exterior and add to the beautification of Baldwin. 

“Public art is very important because it brings people together and enhances our involvement in the community, which is good for our creativity and emotional well being,” library Director Elizabeth Olesh said. “People have been very joyful helping with this project, and the community will be able to come and enjoy this great socially distanced art exhibit collaboration. We expect that this project will last until summer depending on how the public art elements last.” 

A few years ago, there was a similar yarn-bombing project in Baldwin, and Olesh and other library staff members wanted to recreate it during the pandemic. Throughout January, February and March, the Baldwin Library provided various workshops on the basics of knitting and crocheting to allow anyone to take part.

“A lot of people are home more often now because of the pandemic, and I know knitting is done a lot when people have more free time,” Olesh said. “A lot more people have taken up knitting and crocheting while they have been home, so it was only natural that we would bring this project back to Baldwin again. I hope that people can see the library as a place where art happens and as an informational tool where they can learn art and teach others art.”  

Also involved with planning for the yarn bombing community art project since fall 2020 was Baldwin resident Sara Hill, who has worked alongside Olesh and other library staff to make decisions about the project as well as plan areas where the yarn bombing creations may be displayed on the exterior of the library.

Hill, who taught herself how to crochet and knit as an adult, also helped run one of the library’s knitting and crocheting workshops in January to assist residents with learning how to make the creations for the community project.

“I love community art and building community, so this project has brought together all of my passions,” Hill said. “I think this yarn bombing community project is a great opportunity to bring community together in a safe, socially distanced way while celebrating the library and the arts and giving people of all different ages the opportunity to get to know one another.”

The previous chair of beautification of the Baldwin Civic Association, Rita Cavanagh, who has been involved in various projects throughout the community in an effort to decorate Baldwin, said she is excited to see the library covered in vibrant colors through work of area residents.

“I’m delighted to see this project happen. Years ago, myself and 10 others did a guerilla yarn-bombing project on a Friday night,” she said. “Knitting and crocheting are great ways to add color and whimsy to the community, especially now while we wait for Mother Nature to show us her colors. The best part about this project is that it is a fun community collaboration and it’s a temporary installation that is low cost.” 

The library is accepting knitted and crocheted donations until April 1.

On Saturday, April 10 from 1 to 4 p.m., the library will hold a yarn-wrapping event to allow community members to help decorate the library with yarn. To read about the expected criteria to donate a knitted or crocheted item to the library, visit https://www.baldwinpl.org/yarn-bombing-instructions/.

In the upcoming fall season, the Baldwin Public Library is planning to have quilting activities with artist Kim Taylor in the hope of creating a community quilt with an anti-racism theme that will also educate the community about the history of quilt-making among Black communities. 

“I would like to continue to pass on the tradition of public art in Baldwin and at the library, because so far the response from the community for this project has been excellent, and we have quite a few bags filled with various pieces to decorate the library,” Olesh said. “I’m not sure if we will repeat this exact same project in the near future because it’s great to branch out and try new things. I look forward to seeing the completion of this exhibit around the library because I know that it will serve as a positive force and as a ray of light in this whole pandemic.”

An orginal version of this article said, "In the upcoming fall season, the Baldwin Public Library is planning to have quilting activities with artist Tim Keller. The article has since been updated to reflect the change; Kim Taylor.