Mary Hamby is the owner and artist behind Twenty Two West based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In her studio at Chattanooga WorkSpace you’ll find her making both jewelry and fiber art pieces that reflect her unique modern aesthetic and focus on quality and excellence. Mary says, “I love how my job allows me to not only create with my hands but also to build relationships around creativity. My goal is to connect people with art that is attainable and beautiful.”
The name Twenty Two West comes from the address of the home Mary grew up in. It is a place of love and light- it is Mary’s desire to emulate these qualities in her own work. Twenty Two West connects creative ideas to everyday life and is a place where people feel respected, inspired, and cared for.
Olga de Klein is on a journey. From painting to drawing, photography and, most recently, yarn bombing, de Klein thrives on being creative.
Though the 69-year-old says she never knows which direction her creativity will take her, she was pleasantly surprised that her yarn bombing project is being showcased on a nationally televised FedEx TV commercial airing this holiday season.
Yarn bombing is “the act of crocheting and knitting unexpected pieces for public display,” de Klein says. “It was started to cover/brighten up insipid concrete and metal structures in urban living. ”
In the commercial, a grandmother is talking to her daughter on the phone, asking if she received the “toaster cozy” shipped through FedEx. The daughter says “yes,” and the camera shows the husband putting a huge cozy on the Christmas tree as well as several other objects covered by cozies. The last shot is a boy covered completely by a cozy and asking, “Is that Nana?”
Yarn bombing was started in Texas in 2005 by Magda Sayeg, who is considered to be the mother of the unusual art project, de Klein says.
“I had seen her work online and included it in my senior presentation at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga about the history of knitting. One of the things I touched on was what all you could do with yarn, which lead into ‘yarn bombing,'” she says.
In April 2012, de Klein yarn bombed trees in front of the Tennessee Aquarium. The “bombing” was part of MakeWorks 10 x 10 project, de Klein says. Last February, she struck again.
“I knit it (cozies) loosely for the trees so the trees could breathe,” she says. “Most of the time, the rough areas of bark keep the yarn in place. When I put it on smooth poles, it is secured in a way it does not slide down.”
“I did the trolley on one of the walls at Glass Street for their Better Block event. The trolley is 32 feet wide and 15 feet high.” It’s still covered in yarn today.
But bombing is not the only use for yarn, she says, and it also shows up in her mixed media works, which are on display at Studio 3K at WorkSpace in downtown Chattanooga..
“It is a different way of feeling creative with yarn. The yarn I get is not your typical ‘grandmother’s’ yarn,” de Klein says. “It is very colorful, varied in texture, sometimes chiffon, sometimes silk, and most of it is strips stitched together by women in India and Nepal. They either collect remnants from fabric in factories where they make saris, so it does not end up in the landfill, or are from old saris. With the proceeds, they pay for the schooling of their children.”
She purchases the majority of her yarn from the DarnGoodYarn website, she says. “The owner of the business, Nicole Snow, has helped me in all my yarn-bomb endeavors, and always came through when I had to place a frantic call for more and/or different colors of yarn, texture, etc.,” she says.
It was de her connection with Snow that lead to her participation in the commercial, de Klein explains. Last October, Snow received a grant from the FedEx Small Business Competition that landed their yarn art in the commercial.
“I could not do all this by myself in less than a week, but Nicole had team of knitters who helped as well. Nicole called back, asking me to help her pull it all together and five days later I was on a plane to Los Angeles, where I arrived around the same time as Nicole, both armed with suitcases full of cozies.
“We fitted all the items — refrigerator door, toaster, dog, Christmas tree, an outside topiary. We only had to adjust the cozy for Fritz, the dog, which was a little too big on him.”
A native of the Netherlands, de Klein moved to America in 1967 and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing at UTC in 2011. Her grandmother taught her to knit.
“I stopped knitting for many years but took it up again after Adrian (her youngest son) died, and I knitted one scarf after the other, mindlessly, as it took me away from that cutting pain,” she says. “Then, when it was time for my senior project at UTC, and I wanted to get away from doing the same thing, I decided to ‘paint’ with yarn and it has been like that ever since.”
kudu-lah, established in 2007, is a locally owned and operated husband and wife duo newly based in Chattanooga from Brooklyn. Harnessing the power of AWESOME, Kenny and Jenifer Kudulis, bring you kudu-lah critters, monster-like characters inspired by folks seen traveling the NYC subways. Kenny sketches, paints and names all of his original characters. Then Jen gets to know each critter and creates individual bios. The critters are seen captured in Mason Jars or juxtaposed into the couple’s original photography or vintage paintings. All pieces are lovingly handmade by Jenifer and Kenny. All artwork is printed on canvas and finished with a gloss sealant, leaving all pieces UV protected and moisture resistant. This basically means it will look great for 300 years!
Can yarn bombing build community? Chattanooga-based artist Olga de Klein uses the art of yarn bombing to create connections between people and place. “Trolley” is a 30-foot wide, 15-foot tall mixed-media mural made of yarn and paint on plywood. Sections of yarn knit by residents and supporters of Glass Street visually represent how individuals, when stitched together, can become something greater than before.
The mural also celebrates the historic East Chattanooga Belt Line Trolley which connected the Glass Farm District to the businesses and attractions downtown in the early 1900s. The trolley is not only a point of connection for places – it connects people. De Klein’s mural is designed to do the same – inviting people to interact with the installation and ultimately one another.
The temporary installation is located at 2442 Glass Street.
14 volunteers engaged in the project
17,151 yards of yarn were used, which translates into about 9.7 miles
1 image of this mural reached more than 2,500 on facebook
More than 100 first-time visitors attracted to Glass Street
Hollie Berry started drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil and began painting in oils at the age of eight. Since then, her primary focus has remained on her artistic growth. Whether painting a traditional portrait in oils, sewing paper pages into a sculptural form, or suspending moving books from the ceiling, she seeks to add to the beauty of the world by tapping into her own creativity and that of those around her.
Berry received a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Texas at Austin and studied art and art history abroad in Tuscany, Italy. Her work has been displayed locally at Association for Visual Arts, The River Street Makery, Winder Binder Gallery & Bookstore, ArtSpace Gallery, and on several public streets.
Berry first became enamored with the possibility of book arts in high school when she was introduced to the concept of altered books. She had always been an avid reader so the conjoining of books and art was a natural direction. Soon she learned to create handmade books from the raw materials of paper, thread, boards, and cloth. Now, she and Ellen Simak are co-chairs of Book Arts at the Open Press, where she occasionally teaches book arts workshops.
After moving to Chattanooga, Hollie first made an impression on the local community by creating Dewdles, a series of temporal drawings in the dewy grass of Coolidge Park. These monumental and ephemeral works last only an hour or so before evaporating. Dewdles capture the imaginations of tourists, joggers, and dog walkers who spot them from the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, as well as internet surfers who stumble across them online.
Recently Hollie has been involved with The McCallie Walls Mural Project, a grant recipient of the MakeWork foundation, completing the twelve by forty five foot outdoor mural Four Horsewomen. She also collaborated with other artists, neighborhood residents, and children to create the community painted mural Tandimals. For her next foray into public art Berry collaborated with her husband, Engineer Rudy Elizondo, to create the interactive installation Book Flock as part of the Open Spaces program coordinated by River City Company. The fusion of art, technology, and viewer participation is something she very much looks forward to continuing in the future.
Hollie Berry lives in Chattanooga, TN with her husband, two cats, and too many books.