The Natural History Museum In Washington has opened The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef an exhibition by the Institute For Figuring and Companions, on view through April 24, 2011.
A sea of vibrant colors and fantastic structures, the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef evokes a sense of stewardship of their real-life counterparts through a whimsical and beautiful display. Atolls and clusters of crocheted corals, made of both yarn and found materials, weave their way into unique coral communities. By using particular crocheting techniques that employ hyperbolic geometry, these reefs take shape into complex, natural-looking forms.
Margaret and Christine Wertheim, co-founders of The Institute For Figuring, have created an exhibition that combines the mathematics of hyperbolic geometry with the delicateness of this traditionally women’s handicraft. The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is a traveling exhibition that not only displays these artworks, but also incorporates an ever-growing social project—teaching others around the world how to crochet hyperbolically and make their own reefs. By working through this process and viewing the art, one can see the correlation between the crocheted reefs and living corals, such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The fragility of the coral reefs is echoed by their crocheted counter parts.
So what is hyperbolic crochet? It’s a technique that combines crafting and math to create beautiful, complex shapes. Dr. Daina Tamina at Cornell developed hyperbolic crochet to create a complex, mathematical model.
Wertheim talks about hyperbolic crochet and its contribution to mathematics, summing it up with this amazing line: “So here in wool, through a domestic feminine art, is the proof that the most famous postulate in mathematics is wrong.”