I had to take Josie to the “Knitting is for Pussies” show by Polish-born, NYC-based artist Olek at the Christopher Henry Gallery in Nolita. (Thanks to Bowery Boogie for the heads-up.) UPDATE: It’s been extended through the end of November! GO!
I see the show as symbolic of where I am right now as a parent to an almost-tween. We’re just entering the world in which Josie can do things I can’t. She can knit. She can run faster. She’s read books I haven’t read. I can see, glimmering in the distance, the point at which I’ll no longer be able to help her with her math homework. I’m wistful. It’s a funny transitional stage — her world used to be filtered entirely through me, and now it isn’t. First that was a literal truth — my body fed her. Then it was a philosophical and practical truth: I taught her skills; I selected all her reading matter. Now she’s getting more and more independent, which of course is what’s supposed to happen, and it’s nice for me because I have more time to drink gin and procrastinate on a blog instead of writing for ACTUAL PAYING MONEY, but wait, where was I? Right. Knitting is for Pussies. Olek’s work is crochet (one needle) rather than knitting (two needles — Josie’s obsession), but Olek’s stuff is so cool I don’t think it bothered Josie that Olek calls her a pussy, though we do have to discuss the sexism of the term and whether women can be sexist, and oh goody, I AM STILL NEEDED.
Anyway, I snark, but I basically do like the fact that my kid can bond over knitting with her grandmother and with the tattooed crafty ladies in their booths at Maker Faire while I sit with my thumb up my butt, watching her world expand. As the parent, I get the ball (of yarn) rolling, and then the kid takes off with it. HEAVY-HANDED TEXTILE METAPHOR ALERT.
Anyhoo, I do appreciate art that turns genteel lady handwork into something bold and amusing. I love Liza Lou‘s crazy beaded universes. And yup, Josie and Maxie and I all got a kick out of this show. And they didn’t notice the NSFW things crocheted all over the walls.
In her artist’s statement, Olek talks about how the “modern world of movement” parallels the movement in crochet, in which each loop is linked to another and the act of creation itself involves movement. Neat. But I’m more interested in how a classically home-bound art goes out into the big wide world.