New exhibitions at the Berman Museum examine relationships between humans and the natural world

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New exhibitions at the Berman Museum examine relationships between humans and the natural world
The Tempestry Project: Pikes Peak National Landmark.

COLLEGEVILLE, PA.- Two new exhibitions at the Berman Museum explore relationships between humans and the natural world.

Mapping Climate Change: The Knitting Map and The Tempestry Project unites, for the first time, two innovative textile art projects that give visual and tangible presence to a changing climate at a crucial moment of environmental precariousness. By translating temperature, precipitation, humidity, or wind speed data into stitch and color, these vibrant works potently and poignantly reveal the centrality of weather to notions of identity and experiences of place, and thus “map” the flow of temperature over time.

In Alison Safford: Anthro(Site), multimedia artist Safford meditates on the motion of bodies—human, celestial, and terrestrial—as they converge, collide, depart, or reunite through random or cyclical events, instances of migration and mortality, and orientations to place and space.

Both exhibitions will be on view at the museum through November 30.

“The Berman Museum’s new exhibitions invoke intimacy through media or interactivity to invite visitors to contemplate our place in, our impact on, and our responsibilities to a greater collective world,” says Deborah Barkun, creative director of the Berman Museum. “The Knitting Map and The Tempestry Project are astonishing both as works of art and as movements due to the conceptual and collaborative work of diverse minds and hands. Safford’s Anthro(site) asks us to perceive our lived experience as simultaneously micro- and macrocosmic.”

For the artist cartographers of The Knitting Map (2005) and The Tempestry Project (2017 - present), textile becomes the medium through which environmental data is translated, but also inevitably interpreted through the personal calligraphy of makers’ stitches—some taut, others loose. The process of handknitting and the resultant textiles map the motions of makers’ hands, as much as they transmit data relating to climate and locale. The Knitting Map offers a conceptual portrait of Cork City, Ireland, relayed through visual manifestations of urban activity and weather and was realized through communal labor of over 2,500 volunteer hand knitters over 365 days, and was commissioned as a flagship project for Cork City’s year as the European Capital of Culture (2005).

The Tempestry Project was launched by Justin Connelly, Marissa Connelly, and Emily McNeil in 2017, and was built on a long-standing tradition of knitted or crocheted temperature blankets—which document temperature data for a period and locale of personal significance—by standardizing color, data source, and stitch such that the results could comparably show the effects of climate change from place-to-place and time-to-time.

Produced more than a decade apart, The Knitting Map and The Tempestry Project recount evolving stories of climate awareness. In conversation, The Knitting Map and The Tempestry Project integrate science and art, technology and handwork, and authorship and collaboration to visualize a developing public consciousness of environmental justice issues.

Anthro(Site) immerses viewers in proximate relationships with objects and issues that make intimate both the macro- and microscopic. Viewers are invited to sit in two rocking chairs that provide privileged encounters with earth and sky. In one chair, the viewer accesses a recording of the Churyumov–Gerasimenko Comet hurtling through space. The second chair affords a shimmering subterranean view, reminiscent of the anthracite coal mined in Pennsylvania.

Conversations with the artists, performances and workshops will take place in the fall and when scheduled, will be announced here.

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