The floating weightless river

two crochet panels stretched out on floorI am the luckiest crocheter… EVER!  What an experience!

This past summer, I volunteer-crocheted two panels, each ~14’ X 10’ (yes, feet) as part of a public art project for the Canal Convergence in Scottsdale, AZ.  When I shipped them off with a sigh of relief in July, I never dreamed I’d meet the designers or see the work installed.

I just got back from both (!) and cannot wait to share my experience.

Meet the artists

Jin Choi is petite, delicate as a magnolia blossom, and just as sweet.  Her equally delicate crochet design belies the structural underpinning that gives the work its integrity.  The custom nylon cord created strong stitch definition with a magical sheen that reflects in the night light.

And her husband, Thomas Shine, faced with 2.000 to 3.000 lbs of steel and crochet, completed the art piece by engineering the infrastructure to suspend the delicate lacework over the Scottsdale Canal.

Jin and Thomas are both trained as architects; she approaches their work from a background of art and design, he approaches it from a background in engineering.  Much of their architectural life at Choi + Shine centers around power companies and grids.

The artwork is a love effort.

And now the artwork embraces community.

The community

This is Choi + Shine’s fifth installation of public art.

For the first three projects, Jin did every bit of the crochet herself.  Imagine that.  There she was, with a young child, a busy architectural firm – crocheting miles of cord into floating lace.  We all know that could not possibly continue, and she resolved to do things differently.

The Urchins was the first piece that enlisted volunteers to help with crocheting the lace pieces and installing the work onsite.  It was with this piece that Choi + Shine realized the power of community.

Now came another level of challenge; keeping the volunteers coordinated and on target.  It was a new level of learning.

The magic of that effort was rewarded by the magical effect The Urchins had on the viewers. Many said it felt like an ethereal floating magical moment.  Jin observed that when young girls approached, they started dancing.

That same esthetic is present in ARIZONA!  As viewers approach their work, the detail becomes stronger.  You can duck under and observe the work from inside.  And from the outside, it appears the viewer has become part of the artwork.

From a distance, the viewers and the work dance together.

The Art

The theme of the Convergence was “Wind and Water.”  When Jin and Thomas were invited to submit a proposal, they, along with their young son, drove throughout the state of Arizona to experience the reality and beauty of the geography.

Where was wind and water in Arizona?  How can it be represented in lace?

Exploring the Arizona desert, they came upon a slot canyon.  The light shafts cut through the milky air like a laser.  Nothing is starker with the reality of wind and water than a slot canyon.  Water is transparent, lace is transparent.  The light dances in a slot canyon mimicking the movement and grace of water and wind.

Using these elements as inspiration, ARIZONA!, the floating weightless river, was born.

Although the Canal Convergence public art event has since ended, Choi + Shine’s piece, ARIZONA! will remain installed until March 2019.  After that, it is available to be installed in a public art space near you.

Public Art makes the world more beautiful.  Do make time to see it.  You’ll be inspired by the vision of wind and water suspended through the lace, and by the hundreds of hands working together.  Please share your experience in the comments!


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