Knit one, pearl one

I was born in the industrial city of Silesia, Poland, in 1978 and received a Bachelor degree in cultural studies from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, also Poland. After 22 years in this grey world, I emigrated to New York and became a sculptor.

I spend thousands of hours with my hands in motion, creating and intertwining my art and work. Loop after loop, hour after hour, I crochet. For me, life, crochet, and art are inseparable.

In my search for artistic expression I’ve come to realise that the intensity and passion of my motivation is itself a statement of my artistic beliefs. This invested energy creates an emotional field that exists beyond the five senses – it communicates directly with the viewer and inspires him/her to pause and to be in the moment.

It makes a person stop walking, stop staring at the ground, and focus on my crocheted work. My work is never finished – the continuous response of the viewers is the art. My work is simply an instrument for their expressions. It proves all things are interconnected.

My crocheted art installations, performances, and actions comment on the economic and social reality of New York’s diverse communities. In the spirit of interconnectedness I aim to introduce my creations to an ever-expanding audience. My trademark is my camouflage motif.

The omnipresence of explicit messages crocheted into objects, are statements revealing my position as a female artist in an art world that is inclined to have sexist opinions. These text-based pieces replicate actual missives sent to me by SMS text messaging, immortalising details of former relationships.

The viewer thus becomes a witness to my personal history as I continue my exploration of modern day concerns, touching upon the themes of privacy, technology and communication.

My practice has the striking quality of presenting a double-edged approach whereby the initial impact is colourful, enchanting and almost cartoon-like and yet under this camouflaged skin lies a complex and subversive metaphor for the world as I see it.

The performative nature of my work is an essential element within my practice, from the time-consuming and laborious act of crocheting on immense scales to active and impromptu positioning of objects in the street as well as the use of participating performers who, dressed in crocheted suits, are a part of my environment.

This notion of performance instigates an interaction between myself and the viewer who inadvertently take part in my work either by discovering my objects or by ultimately being positioned within the artistic context.

If you want to know more about me, stare at the camouflage crochet, follow the neon threads, imagine the hands working loop after loop, and think about the sculpture unraveling. I want the viewer to love my art and feel anxious because he/she knows that my work is ephemeral. I want them to enjoy the beauty of an art form that is always changing, being destroyed, and reformed as a new work.

I am the recipient of the Ruth Mellon Award for sculpture in 2004, In Situ Artaq award (France) in 2011, and a grant in 2011 from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) for performance in a public space.

My first UK solo exhibition was at Tony’s Gallery in London from January til March 2012. Later this year, I will participate in the Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibition, 40 under 40: Craft Feature, which will showcase my entire crocheted studio apartment. I am also interested in exhibiting in the Middle East with various galleries and INDEX Dubai.

I was recently listed in the Artinfo article See the Women Who Shook Up the Art World in 2011 and has been listed in Complex Magazine as one of “The 25 most important artists of 2011”.

Artist – Agata Oleksiak