There are times when artistic forms transcend their enjoyable aspect and also become a kind of protest. It isn’t easy to balance this duality correctly without diluting the essence of the message. However, these factors come together in perfect tandem in the project “Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas”, currently on show at the Museum of Art and Design in New York.

Exposition place

Exposition place

Pieces detail exhibition

Exhibition pieces detail

The project began ten years ago in Los Angeles, when sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim began to knit the first pieces of what would later become a unique travelling exhibition. It shows the beauty of the coral reefs that exist in the world, and the delicate fragility of their ecosystems. The piece, crocheted entirely by hand, mixes spun textiles with different kinds of plastic, creating true ecosystems which faithfully recreate life in the deep sea.

Two coral reef lives

Recreación de corales en el arrecife

Recreation live in coral reed

However, pollution, climate change and human interference have contributed irrevocably to the gradual disappearance of these underwater paradises. It was the concern raised in 2005 about the disappearance of a large part of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia that led to the creation of this unique project.

Detalle de recreaciones de vida marina en crochet

Crochet recreations sea live detail

Detalle de recreaciones de vida marina en crochet

Crochet recreations sea live detail

The exhibition at MAD recreates three major habitats in crochet with countless details, and a collection of small individual pieces that faithfully depict the enormous range of textures, colours and shapes.

The exhibition also shows various examples of how life is slowly deteriorating in these habitats.  Curated for the MAD by Samantha de Tillio.

Conjunto de corales y anemonas en crochet

Crochet coral reef and anemones
Anemona y coral en crochetCrochet anemone and coral

Retrato de las hermanas Margaret y Christine Wertheim

Sisters Margaret and Christine Wertheim portrait

15 September 2016 – 22 January 2017
Photos courtesy of the institute for Figuring/MAD

This article is also available in Español