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One Artist's Strange Compulsion To Cover The World In Crochet

Last year, mysterious crochet-covered bicycles kept cropping up all over NYC—first in SoHo, then the Lower East Side. A few months later they were spotted in LA, and soon in other U.S. cities, too. Covered in brightly colored orange, pink, purple and green yarn, the bikes appeared as a comical paradox positioned nonchalantly on city streets—an everyday object that seemed at once commonplace and alien, disorienting with its technicolor camouflage, and standing out while hopelessly attempting to “blend in.”

We met Olek, the Polish-American artist responsible for these bike sculptures in Miami during Art Basel 2010, where she was exhibiting a crochet-covered apartment installation with the Christopher Henry Gallery at SCOPE. And although Olek certainly wasn’t one of the biggest names at the fairs, crowds flocked to her installation. Its potent mix of audience interactivity, dazzling visual impact, playfulness and, well, just plain oddity made it a real crowd-pleaser. Not to mention, everywhere we went in South Beach we’d encounter those bikes, and even a crochet covered convertible, which no doubt helped breed excitement and curiosity about her work.

We sat down with Olek in her installation space to discuss her unique medium of choice and ask the pressing question on everyone’s minds—why crochet?! Watch the video above to find out more.

For her most recent project, Olek teamed up with NYC-based multidisciplinary artist Dev Harlan to create a projection-mapped and crochet covered bicycle dubbed the Suffolk Deluxe Electric Bicycle, I. The exhibition for Suffolk Deluxe Electric Bicycle, I just opened this past Friday at NY Studio Gallery and will run through March 12th.

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