This portion of The Institute For Figuring's Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef features urchins by Christine Wertheim and a sea slug by Marianne Midelburg. Photo by Alyssa Gorelick and used courtesy of The Institute For Figuring.

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From UNC Asheville’s Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, shared May 16:

This portion of The Institute For Figuring’s Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef features urchins by Christine Wertheim and a sea slug by Marianne Midelburg. Photo by Alyssa Gorelick and used courtesy of The Institute For Figuring.

As part of the unique project — the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef by the Institute For Figuring (IFF) in Los Angeles, which unites non-Euclidean hyperbolic geometry with ancient craft techniques — area artisans are working to create beautiful and lifelike models that will raise awareness of threats to the world’s coral.

The Asheville Reef, organized by UNC Asheville’s Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, will involve crochet groups in Brevard and Hendersonville, as well as UNC Asheville, Appalachian State University and Western Carolina University.

The Asheville Reef is a “satellite reef” of the IFF’s Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project. The satellite reef will feature brightly colored, healthy-looking crochet reef, and several sub-reefs that dramatize environmental threats to coral, inspired by the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef which was first exhibited in 2007 at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and was most recently on view in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is the brainchild of two sisters from Australia, Christine and Margaret Wertheim, co-founders of the Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles. Margaret Wertheim, a science journalist, first began crocheting with her sister to try to create models of hyperbolic geometry, which, unlike conventional geometry, considers shapes on a curved surface. Only after stepping back from their cloth creations did the Wertheims see the strong resemblance to coral reefs. Hyperbolic shapes are frequently found in nature, including sea life like kelp and coral.

The Wertheim sisters intend to someday display all of the satellite reefs, including the Asheville Reef as part of the People’s Reef. More than 5,000 people on four continents have already created satellite reefs. Christine and Margaret Wertheim will speak about the project at UNC Asheville this coming fall.

Beginning in May, creators of the Asheville Reef will gather at five locations. Each group is seeking participation from the public and will be led by an experienced crafter. Additional locations will be added as the project evolves:

  • Asheville: Men’s crochet group led by Mark Koven, assistant professor of art, Owen Hall, UNC Asheville. E-mail mkoven@unca.edu for details.
  • Brevard: Charlotte’s Fibers, 275 N. Broad St. Call (828) 862-6886 for schedule.
  • Boone: Appalachian State University. Call (828) 262-5268 for details.
  • Cullowhee: Western Carolina University. C all (828) 227-3591 for details.
  • Hendersonville: 1-4 p.m. on Thursdays at the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design at 1181 Broyles Road. Call (828) 890-2050 for details.

To accompany the local reef-making, the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design will display and add to the Asheville Reef as it is being created through Aug. 12 at 1181 Broyles Road in Hendersonville. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

For more information or to participate, visit craftcreativitydesign.org or e-mail info@craftcreativitydesign.org. To learn more about the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project, visit crochetcoralreef.org.

Kathleen O'Nan

Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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