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NMSU art department plans to 'yarn bomb' campus

New Mexico State University's art department is seeking volunteers to help knit a mile-long strip of fabric that will physically connect several departments in a heartfelt public event next month.

NMSU art students sit and knit for public art project, 'heARTlines,'
New Mexico State University art students pictured from left to right: Victoria Terrazas, Kelly Allen, Daniel Terrazas and Nic Davee sit outside of D.W. Williams Hall and knit for the public art event, 'heARTlines.' (Photo by Stephanie Taylor)

"The plan is to 'yarn bomb' the campus with knitted 'heART lines' that reach from the 'heart' of the art building to all areas of the university," said Stephanie Taylor, an assistant professor in the art department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The two-part public art project aims to highlight the role the arts plays in the campus and surrounding communities while building strong ties with the more than 100 students, faculty, staff and community members who are helping to make the event possible.

"It will also result in a teaching process where people learn to knit or crochet and/or less experienced knitters are helped along or mentored by more experienced knitters to create a striking and unprecedented public arts event on the NMSU campus," Taylor said.

Volunteers have been working on the project since the fall, and will welcome the public Tuesday, Feb. 14, with a cookie and tea party social where participants will share the goals of the project, and volunteer knitters will show their handiwork.

The actual bombing will occur in mid-April. The exact date is pending approval from the NMSU grounds department. Upon approval, students and community volunteers will unwind the knitted material from the "heart" of the art building throughout the campus.

"The volunteers will have created the knitted fabric over the course of the fall semester and early winter and spring, and will be responsible for 'bombing' the campus and documenting the 'bombing,'" Taylor said.

The knitted elements will be on display for one day before being laundered and reused as part of phase two of the project. Organizers and volunteers will sew the crafted fabric strips into blankets of all sizes and distribute them to local food banks, homeless shelters, children's daycare centers, safe houses and baby hospitals.

"This is also a 'green' gesture, supporting NMSU's commitment to the reuse and recycling of materials," Taylor said.

Taylor said a recent measure in December showed the group had handcrafted a 4-inch wide strip of Aggie crimson fabric that measures more than 635 feet in length, and she expects to receive more yarn and a knitting machine to continue the rapid production of the "heARTline" by the end of the month.

The next volunteer meeting will be held from 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, in Room 218 in D.W. Williams Hall. Yarn will be provided and volunteer knitting and crocheting teachers will be on-hand. Attendees are asked to bring their own knitting needles and crochet hooks.

"The beauty of this NMSU public art effort is that it will result from the craft and work of all kinds of community members?students, the elderly and children," Taylor said.

The event, sponsored by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Christa Slaton, The Devasthali Family Foundation and Target, is free and open to the public. To volunteer or for more information contact Stephanie Taylor at 575-646-3329 or sltaylor@nmsu.edu.