30 April 2018

More Knitting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Lydia Crocheting in the Garden at Marly, Mary Cassatt, 1880.

Mary Cassatt's plein-air portrait of her sister doing needlework is part of a wonderful exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York.  In a sort of kindred-spirit tableau vivant, knitting was also on display in the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, as part of the Member Make and Mingle program. In this program, free for members and up to four of their guests, about 50 women (and some men) brought yarn and needles into the Shapiro Courtyard.  Beginning at 9 am, an hour before the regular opening schedule, we sat on comfortable chairs, couches and stools and manipulated our needles and yarns. A knitter who also teaches first grade engaged us in a round of brief introductions and descriptions of our projects. The lighting was much better than in an earlier incarnation of this activity.

Busy knitters in the Shapiro Courtyard.

Skilled hands at work.

My friend Robin knits with hand-spun yarn.

Soft mohair yarn spilling out of a bag with matching handles.

When we learn about artwork in reproduction, either in print or online, it's easy to overlook the element of texture - on pages and screens, subtle surface qualities are hard to perceive and appreciate. Moreover, we must interact with artworks in a museum visually - no touching allowed!  So, working with yarn, from smooth worsted to fuzzy angora - reconnects us to the tactile appeal of objects.

Scarf in a sort of sampler style.

Knitter wearing her creations.

Knitting in company.

Dale Chihuly's Lime Green Icicle Tower looms over knitters.

Knitting is also one of the ways folks who think they are not artists nevertheless demonstrate that creativity extends beyond the traditional plastic arts. Conjuring objects from skeins of yarns  requires decisions about color, texture and form, as well as technical mastery.

Sweaters in purple and lime green.

The event was a sort of delightful fashion show as well, as many knitters wore their own beautiful garments, such as the sweater in the image below.

Expert work and great colors.

Coffee and cables.

Finally, another image of a someone engaged in needlework, painted by one of the women artists in the Impressionist movement, Berthe Morisot.  (This painting is also part of the Public Parks, Private Gardens exhibit at the Met.)  I wonder if the young woman's hands were moving as quickly as Morisot's brush, as the painter worked at her easel in the garden capturing the atmosphere and light of the moment.

There are two more Knitting in the Galleries sessions this spring: May 5 and June 2.

Young Woman Knitting, Berthe Morisot, c. 1883