All wrapped up in yarn art at Stark

Rebekah Mosora

Christine Barbas, freshman fashion design major at the Kent Stark campus, works with another volunteer to create an art exhibit entirely made of yarn. The idea comes from Stark’s resident artist Carol Hummel. Construction of the exhibit began yesterday

Credit: Steve Schirra

Weaving a multi-colored web across the Stark campus, the art exhibit will include nearly a million feet of red, purple, pink, yellow and orange yarn.

Credit: Steve Schirra

Kent State’s Stark Campus is exhibiting a yarn sculpture that would make Spiderman jealous.

Carol Hummel, the Stark campus artist-in-residence, is installing her “Confined Comforts” exhibit this week. The campus-wide exhibit will officially open at 2 p.m. Monday at the Stark campus.

Hummel said she expects to use more than one million feet of yarn in the exhibit, which will wrap around trees and link them together to form confined spaces.

“I’m trying to take empty space and make it active,” Hummel said. “Actually connecting trees together with these webs of yarn will create spaces you can walk through. You’ll enter different spaces and the colors will shift as you walk through it.”

Hummel said she is using acrylic yarn with a color pallet of red, orange, yellow, light pink, bright pink and purple. The yarn is wrapped tightly around the trees and tautly stretched between them. The multiple layers of yarn each catch the sunlight differently, causing the colors throughout the sculpture to continuously change.

The exhibit will be broken down into three areas throughout the campus. Hummel said that the largest section of the exhibit connects nine trees and is about 175 feet long and 50 feet deep.

Many Stark campus students are helping with the installation, Hummel said. She estimated that at least 100 students will help this week. Some students are helping as part of a class. Other students, faculty and staff members are volunteering their time.

“Students are also doing their own derivative pieces around the campus,” Hummel said. “Each of the students in a couple of classes has to make their own yarn piece somewhere on campus.”

Hummel is not only installing the exhibit, but also giving lectures to several classes at the Stark campus while she is the artist-in-residence.

Carey McDougall, an art professor at the Stark campus, said Hummel’s exhibit marks the start of a year-long series of events celebrating women’s history.

“We celebrate women’s history month all of the time,” McDougall said. “We thought this exhibit would be a great kick-off to our Women Cross Boundaries series. (Hummel) uses yarn in a way that crosses boundaries. She is not just knitting or making clothing.”

Hummel describes the installation as a struggle between conflicting concepts.

“These pieces play between comfort and control,” Hummel said. “The material is very homey and makes you feel real comfortable, but then you’re actually wrapping it around trees and space itself. You’re confining space and you’re confining the trees.”

Hummel said Confined Comforts is a continuation of “Boxed,” her installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland. The Stark campus exhibit uses the same materials but is on a much larger scale.

Unlike the exhibit at the museum, the Stark campus exhibit will be entirely outdoors and exposed to the elements. Hummel said that the rain will not damage the sculpture because it is wrapped and pulled so tightly.

“It will loosen the yarn a little, but this adds a new, different element,” Hummel said.

Hummel graduated from Kent State last year with a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture. She has previously exhibited pieces at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland and the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown.

Contact regional campus reporter Rebekah Mosora at [email protected].