Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

The Quiksilver Foundation is honored to announce its support of an exhibition of the “Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef” created by Margaret and Christine Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring in Los Angeles. The exhibit will be on display in the Ocean Focus Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History from October 16, 2010, through April 24, 2011, in Washington, D.C.

Combining hyperbolic geometry mathematics with the beautiful craft of crocheting, the exhibition reflects a reef of vivid colors and intricate structures as both yarn and found materials are woven together. The crocheted reef is an impressive representation of natural coral communities that calls on viewers to act as responsible stewards of coral reefs through an amazing display of artistry.

In 2003, the Wertheim sisters founded the Institute For Figuring (IFF) to promote a public understanding of the poetic and aesthetic dimensions of science, mathematics and the technical arts.  The sisters’ childhood years growing up in Queensland, Australia, inspired them to begin creating the crocheted reef in 2005 as a way to call attention to the devastating plight of the Great Barrier Reef.  Included in the exhibit at the Smithsonian amid the large islands of colorful crocheted corals, intricate woven reef organisms and delicate woolen sub-reefs is a representation of a massive “toxic reef” crocheted from yarn and plastic materials.  This “toxic reef” is a stark visual reminder of the escalating problem created by plastic trash that has been polluting our oceans and choking marine life at a rapidly expanding rate.

“As the oldest ecosystem, largest biological structure, and most concentrated biodiversity on Earth, coral reefs support over 25 percent of all marine species and provide food, coastal protection, and income to one billion people around the world,” said Rick MacPherson, Conservation Programs Director for the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL).  “These ancient, beautiful, yet fragile ecosystems are dying from rising sea surface temperatures, coastal development and water contamination, overfishing, and other threats.  It is absolutely critical that we take action now to increase the number of effectively managed marine protected areas worldwide so that both coral reefs and the communities that depend on them can thrive.”

“Wooliness and wetness aren’t exactly two concepts that you would initially pair together, but now this project reaches across five continents and has roots that extend into the fields of mathematics, marine biology, personal handicraft, and environmental activism,” said Margaret Wertheim, renowned science writer and Director of the Institute For Figuring. “It’s taken on a viral dimension of its own, and in a beautiful way the development of the project parallels the evolution of life on Earth.”

While many individuals rely on coral reefs for a living, there is a large portion of the world’s population that is distant from reefs and has little or no knowledge of the importance in protecting them. The exhibition will improve the general public’s awareness by displaying the beautiful structures found in coral reefs and the important role that reefs play in our ocean’s lifecycle.

“We are pleased to be involved with the exhibit not only because it displays the gorgeous coral reef-inspired artworks, but it also encompasses an ever-growing desire of the Quiksilver Foundation to teach our global community the importance of protecting our oceans, waves and beaches.” Said Ryan Ashton, Director of the Quiksilver Foundation. “We hope that exhibit visitors will be encouraged to make a difference and help support coral reef conservation.”

In creating this global exhibit over the past five years, the Institute For Figuring has worked with communities all over the world including groups in Chicago, New York, London, Melbourne and Cape Town to produce local “satellite reefs” using the geometric patterns interpreted by the IFF to help artists represent the fragility of coral reefs. In association with the exhibition opening this week, the National Museum of Natural History has launched the Smithsonian Community Reef – the newest satellite of the global Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project. Leading up to the exhibition, local residents of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area will have the opportunity to participate in crocheting portions of the reef that will then be added to the display.

The Quiksilver Foundation encourages people from all walks of life to contribute to the Smithsonian Community Reef and help create awareness and appreciation for the world’s coral reefs.

For more information regarding the Institute For Figuring’s worldwide Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project and the communities around the world who are working on this citizens’ response to the ecological crisis facing reefs today please visit:

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