It’s been more than a month since Berlin woke to its public benches draped in knitted afghans, and there’s no really telling how much longer they will be a thing. The quilts appeared as part of a public art project designed to provoke commentary as well as appreciation. They were made by the knitting group that meets at A Little Bit Sheepish, the yarn store in town with the object of covering as many of the benches as the group could muster.
The question many people have asked is ”Why?” but that also is, in a way the answer.
Ivy Wells, town economic director, said this is the first in a series of guerrilla public art instillations aimed at tweaking people’s perception; kind of “Random Acts of Artness.” That quilts aren’t evocative of alternative public art kind of is the point, because now they are.
This summer, Berlin already has erected the first two parts of a mural conceived and painted by local school children and continues fundraising to complete the work. The 2nd Friday Art Stroll have become a nearly regional event, drawing people specifically rather than accidentally to the town to experience art in the shops, and even the number of working artists in the downtown district continues to grow. Punctuating and accenting the town’s art bent is this new project of unexpected art, for art’s sake, popping up without warning.
Ivy said she was surprised how well and long the knitted blankets have held up. The expectation was that they would be up for a couple of days and then, as they began to tatter or lose their shape, the projects would be donated to the humane society. Although the donation part is still planned, the tattering hasn’t yet occurred. The knitters apparently built these works of art to last.
The knitters were approached with the directive to use quality material and to be creative. Ivy didn’t approach them with the completed project in mind, only the concept. The knitters tried out a couple of different ideas before settling on bench coverings.
The next art project already is underway, Ivy said she id waiting for the right time to reveal it. Or let it reveal itself as the case may be.