A big "yarn bomb" project is coming to the Quad-Cities, and you can be part of it.
"Yarn bombing" is a form of street art in which people wrap public objects, such as trees, light poles, parking meters, with colorful swaths of knitted or crocheted yarn as a way of brightening or personalizing cold or sterile places.
Claire Kovacs, director of the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art, is organizing a project in which members of the community will be invited to workshops and "crochet-ins" in Davenport and Rock Island to make as many as 1,000 colorful circles that will then be stitched together to form a larger work.
In late October, the larger work will be tied around a hickory tree growing along Rock Island's 7th Avenue, on the Augustana campus, where it will remain until May when it will be taken down.
The goal is to unite people, create something beautiful, teach a skill and highlight the fiber arts.
Connecting a community through art is something of a trend; the Figge Art Museum in Davenport hosted 30 community workshops from December to April inviting people to craft a total of 1,260 cornstalks made of green plastic soda bottles that now are part of the museum's "Jean Shin: MAiZE" installation.
Ohio-based artist Carol Hummel, one of the early practitioners of yarn bombing, has been hired to plan and execute the Augustana project. She is providing patterns for the circles as well as the appropriate amount and color of nylon craft cord, or yarn. Kovacs and her assistant will assemble the cord — an estimated 42,000 feet in total — and instructions in packs for distribution at the workshops.
Once the circles are finished, Hummel will stitch them together in panels, and she and her daughter, Molly, will do the actual tree-wrapping, using ladders and a cherry picker, Kovacs said.
Hummel and daughter were in Rock Island in June to help choose the exact tree.
"It has to have good branches, a good shape," Kovacs said.
Kovacs first learned of Hummel in the early 2000s when she yarn-bombed parking meters in Cleveland. Two years ago, Kovacs heard of a community art project Hummel shepherded in West Virginia, and Kovacs decided to try something similar in the Quad-Cities.
An unveiling reception will be 4-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Centennial Hall Galleries on the Augustana campus, 3703 7th Ave.
To finance the project, Kovacs secured a $15,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.