Colorful 'bombing' brightens Greensburg
Susan O'Neill has been plotting to bomb Greensburg — with yarn — since January.
All year, donations of yarn and rectangles of knitting, crochet and fiber art have been filling collection boxes around the city.
The city approved putting up art on fences, gates, bridges and benches on Main and Otterman streets and Maple and Pennsylvania avenues for Yarn Bomb Greensburg.
There are installations at stores, restaurants and at Seton Hill University, where O'Neill is costume director in the theater and dance program. Volunteers started yarn bombing the city two weeks before the Yarn Crawl, which will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 28.
O'Neill describes yarn bombing as “a form of street art that brings a thrill of unexpected color and coziness to an urban setting. … A temporary project that can be easily removed with no environmental impact.”
Yarn Bomb Greensburg will benefit the Blackburn Center Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. When taken down at the end of October, the fabric will be laundered and sewn into 100 twin-size blankets for women and children at the shelter. O'Neill was planning an art lesson with an aspect of social justice for her students, when she realized the positive impact of collaborating with the community on a project to benefit the Blackburn Center.
“It's about bringing awareness,” O'Neill said. “It's about bringing people together that under any other circumstance would not have come together on a project.”
The Yarn Crawl is being coordinated by Seton Hill alum Katy Simovski and Christine Chadwick, owners of Events by Poppy in Pittsburgh.
The Connections Cafe, Second Nature Gallery, DV8 Espresso Bar and Gallery and The Cupcake Shoppe participated in the exhibit and will be open for business during the crawl. The Cupcake Shoppe will donate a portion of sales to the Blackburn Center. The crawl begins at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art with guided tours that will wind downtown and end with desserts and live music at the Art Yard at Seton Hill's Arts Center on West Otterman Street.
The Westmoreland has yarn installations at both entrances and had a box for donations that was emptied and refilled several times. In August, the museum hosted a crochet circle and taught crochet to promote the Yarn Bomb.
O'Neill has partnered with the Westmoreland before.
“So when she called and asked, we said, ‘Of course,' ” says Catena Bergevin, the museum's development director. “It was a really fun project to work with them on.”
The Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, Westmoreland Cultural Trust, YWCA of Westmoreland County, Pittsburgh Center for Creative ReUse, Pat Catan's and Coats & Clark donated materials. Wendy Milne's third-grade art class at Stanwood Elementary in Hempfield Area School District wanted to include its insect and symmetry lesson in the exhibit. Milne wrote each student's name on their plastic, yarn-stitched “bug” and used twine to tie them to the bridges on Maple Avenue.
“They're hoping to get their bugs back,” Milne says. “It was one of their favorite projects.”
The entire event was done with volunteers and in-kind donations — no cash.
O'Neill shrugs off being the mastermind of what she says is her first and last Yarn Bomb Greensburg.
“No one was safe, anyone standing in front of me learned how to knit or contribute in some way,” she says. “People look at me and say, ‘I better go help her, or she'll do this alone.' ”
Dawn Law is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.