In just two weeks, volunteers will band together to crochet a 20- by 40-foot mural in downtown Akron, which will be mounted on the exterior wall of the Akron Civic Theatre on South Main Street.
Part of the Love Across the USA initiative, the project is the brainchild of New York artist Olek, who is installing crocheted murals in various states that celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of impactful women who have helped to shape the history of our country.
The Akron mural will comprise 162 pieces, each measuring 2 square feet, and be created by about 100 Akron-area volunteers under Olek’s guidance. The subject of the mural has been kept secret and will be unveiled at a public event at Lock 3, Monday, May 28 (Memorial Day) at 3 p.m. The event will include Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, County Executive Ilene Shapiro, Olek and the Love Across Akron team, as they reveal the historical woman they’ve chosen to honor. Community members are encouraged to bring covered dishes and blankets. Hot dogs, cold beverages and tableware will be provided.
“To put crochet in the limelight like this is pretty special and it also legitimizes fiber arts,” says Cindy Michael, owner and “yarn wrangler” of Harps & Thistles Yarn Emporium in Cuyahoga Falls, who received a recent Knight Arts Challenge grant for the Akron project, called “Love Across Akron.”
Art Educator Jennifer Davis, owner of smART Studio; Mary Oliver Bethel, an artist, crafter and instructor; and Sarah McKee, store manager of Harps & Thistles, also have been involved in the planning and organization of this larges-scale public art piece.
The four are part of a larger collaborative of artists, teachers, business owners and community leaders involved in a number of creative projects that are at once eye-catching and socially aware. Most significantly, they’re helping to establish fiber art (like crocheting, knitting, and the like) as a serious art form and as a way to explore feminism and equality, while providing education.
Previous Love Across the USA installments have taken place in Rochester and Albany, N.Y., and Raleigh, N.C., making the Ohio installation her fourth.