Crocheting the NY Coral Reef



The short version:

The NYCCG has the opportunity to be involved once again with a project where art meets yarn.  There is a traveling exhibit of a crocheted coral reef—it was first shown in Los Angeles and is now in Chicago, with the addition of a Chicago reef.  It will come to NYC in April 2008 and we are planning to add a New York reef to the main exhibit.  The NYCCG can help by making additions to the reef, by holding workshops and reef-making groups and by teaching and facilitating at workshops organized by NYU (the NY host for this project).


For more information:



A few years ago, Cornell mathematician Dr. Daina Taimina noticed the hyperbolic plane, a non-Euclidian geometry concept, was being taught with old and delicate paper models.  She realized that she could easily crochet them so that students could more easily grasp the concept.  Eventually, this led to, among other things, a wonderful lecture where the worlds of art, crochet and math intersected, organized by science writer Margaret Wertheim, her twin, art teacher Christine Wertheim, and sponsored by their organization, The Institute for Figuring.


There are many hyperbolic shapes and they seem to lend themselves to undersea creatures, something that was not lost on the Wertheim sisters, who are from an area in Australia near the Great Barrier Reef.  They are quite concerned about the state of the coral reefs of the world, as they are being lost at a greater rate than the rainforests and have arguably greater biodiversity, and stand, therefore, to be a greater loss to the world.


And this is basically how the Crocheted Hyperbolic Coral Reef was born, as a math-meets-art exhibit to raise ecological awareness.  For more detail and many really beautiful pictures, please visit the Institute’s website at



NYU is collecting finished pieces of the reef.  I will be happy to collect and transport any contributions from our Guild.  NYU art professor Judith Schwartz says “To inspire your efforts, we will host another workshop in February, led by Christine Wertheim…. By then, hopefully, there will be sufficient inventory of crocheted items to determine if we can assemble a New Yorkreef.

“Hopefully, by the end of March, there will be enough material, so that we can come together once more to create the New York Reef.  The consciousness raised by this project of sustainability and eco-awareness coupled by art, craft, and community, has never been more important than now, and we are delighted that we come together to rally around this worthy endeavor.”


The Guild will be organizing a few of our own coral reef workshops, perhaps a few Citicorp Wednesdays and perhaps some meeting content around creating these sea creatures, so that we can make sure there will be, as Prof. Schwartz says, enough material for a New York reef.


I had the pleasure of visiting the exhibit in Chicago and it is quite amazing.  I found it to be very realistic in some ways and an amazing fantasy of yarn in others.  I came home just in time to join the November Sunday workshop at NYU.  Christine Wertheim stressed that now she would like to see folks use alternative materials for their work, such as old vcr tape or cut up plastic bags.  I know we in the Guild can come up with some unique applications of things that would normally be thrown away!


So, let me know if you are interested in working on this, bring anything you have made (please look at their website for reference first) to meetings, and keep an eye on our yahoo group and our website for updates on future coral reef gatherings.




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