Artist launches “massive” crochet project to send message on oceans

A popular crochet street artist who goes by the singular name Olek is bringing her craft to Virginia Beach to get people talking about protecting ocean life.

Her visit is kicking off work on a “massive community charged” public art project that will be unveiled in late spring, according to an announcement from the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.

The international crochet artist Olek, right, helps at a community workshop on Oct. 13 at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. (Courtesy of MOCA)
The internationally known crochet street artist Olek, right, at a community workshop on Oct. 13 at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. (Courtesy of MOCA)

“This mission of this public art project is to create awareness and inspire conscious dialogue about protecting our oceans and the animals within them,” the announcement said.

Olek, born Agata Oleksiak in Poland, recently spent time in Chile, where she created a rainbow-colored crocheted covering for an obelisk in Santiago to bring attention to gay rights.

The artist began meeting with groups in Virginia Beach this week. On Tuesday she held a workshop with more than 30 students from the Salem Visual and Performing Arts Academy to teach them how to crotchet. That evening she hosted a workshop for more than 30 volunteers who want to be a part of the public art project.

Olek will be in the area through Friday. Her schedule until then includes more workshops, including one for teachers at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and a visit with residents from the Atlantic Shores retirement community.

The contemporary art museum is trying to get the local community involved now in what it is calling the “installation period” of their public project. The venue plans to host workshops for people to crochet the materials for the work. Olek will return to Virginia Beach before the unveiling of the project and host “meet the artist” events.

The museum plans to unveil the creation as a part of an exhibition that begins May 22 called “Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose.” The exhibition, a retrospective of the art magazine, Hi-Fructose, will feature the work of 50 artists, including Olek, and will run until the end of 2016.

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