fiber artist • activist
Agata Oleksiak was born in Poland in 1978. Olek moved to the US in their 20s and relearned how to crochet. They began creating art…. everywhere! Olek identifies as a “two-spirit person; a child of the witches they did not burn.” They have become a world-renowned fiber installation and performance artist: crocheting billboards, murals, wearable sculpture art, costumes, and cozies for everything. They often use their art as a form of activism, highlighting injustices and concerns including impacts of climate change, poverty, misogyny, capitalism, and violence.
Olek’s installations bring color to urban life. By adding their colorful crocheted coverings to pre-existing objects, structures, and even people, Olek draws attention to circumstances and power dynamics at play that may otherwise remain invisible. One of their most well-known installations happened in 2010: a crocheted covering of the Charging Bull statute on Wall Street. Done as a tribute to the artist Arturo Di Modica who had originally installed it without permission, the crochet piece was removed by city staff within 2 hours.
But photos and video of it live on.
Links for Further Exploration
- Artist website
- Artist instagram
- VIDEO: The Artist Weaving the World Together
- Video: Olek Covers the World in Crochet
- Video: Interview with Olek Crochet Artist
- VIDEO of installing Bull
- StreetArtwebsite focus on Olek
- Culture.Pl Spotlight on Olek
- Olek Covers the World in Crochet (KQED Video & Article)
Invitation to Creativity
Like Faith Wilding from our first artist group, Olek’s desire to bring colorful covering to objects is about drawing attention to what may otherwise remain invisible. Though Olek definitely doesn’t consider their work akin to “yarn bombing” it has a similar impact of bringing color and whimsy to the urban landscape.
Today’s invitation is to take your fiber craft into the world, attach (sew) it to something permanent (light pole, chain link fence, fence post, mailbox, etc.), and leave it behind. Some more ideas:
You can include a message or layer of meaning in your choice of object and covering or not. It’s all up to you, the fiber artist!
Make sure to take a picture and document your “installation” as you never know when it might disappear! Share on the blog so we all may witness!