Behind the Scenes at the DAM

The Denver Satellite Reef: Crocheting Community

In March, we started organizing Colorado’s crocheters to create The Denver Satellite Reef, an offshoot of the Crochet Coral Reef project from the Institute For Figuring. Through a series of ongoing workshops, we’ve not only been building the reef, we’ve also been building a tight-knit (or tight-crocheted) community of contributors. I’d like to share how one contributor, Diane Anderson, describes this process, which she terms “collaboration in hyperbolic terms”:

I join a group of women in a basement art studio of the Denver Art Museum. I am thirty minutes late.

The others are chatting as they crochet with aluminum hooks (of varying sizes) and a variety of sunset fused yarns.

“I’m new,” I announce myself, a little uncertainly –unconfidently – after all, I am thirty minutes late.

Mary smiles brightly at me, and rises from her chair to greet me.  I show her my three crocheted embellishments, which I hope meet the hyperbolic criteria.

“They’re wonderful!” she gushes, then gestures toward the table at the back of the room. “Add your gems to the coral reef that we are creating.”

Eight of us sit around tables in companionable silence. As we create, however, stories begin to emerge – weaving a fabric of camaraderie between us. Several women speak about their decisions to marry their husbands, eliciting chuckles and nods. We also speak of the recent tragedies of our modern world – Sandy Hook and Boston. One woman shares a story about her grandparents who came to the United States from Greece. They fell in love while riding a New York City subway. 

Two hours later the reef has grown. Wavy, curlicued specimens have sprung up amidst tubular creations and ruffled shapes. Vibrant oranges, purples, fuchsias and reds blend together in joyous abandon. Dr. Daina Taimina at  Cornell University (in 1997) first discovered that the best way to make models of hyperbolic geometry was with crochet. Nature, however, does not strictly adhere to mathematical perfection. Living forms result from deviation and imperfection. Coral reefs and human beings are not so different, after all.

A microcosm of women on a warm Saturday afternoon started with hooks and yarn. With words and stitches, they created a “satellite reef,” which will grace the halls of the Denver Art Museum through the spring and summer months. 

The Denver Satellite Reef contributors hard at work!

Join us in crocheting The Denver Satellite Reef every Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–4 pm, through September 22. 

Rose Eason is the coordinator of adult and college programs in the education department at the Denver Art Museum. Rose has been at the DAM since 2012 and her favorite artwork that has been on view here is Mud Woman Rolls On.