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Dr. Axt

REEFER MADNESS

Dr Axt's "Reefer Madness" hanging in the entrance to the Crochet Reef exhibition at The Hayward gallery in London (summer 2008).
Photo by the IFF.

In 2006 someone began emailing us photos out of the blue. They were labeled provocatively, and without further explanation, as simply "The Other Crochet Reef." The images were astonishing, psychaedelic combinations of reds and pinks and electric blues, channeled through a pop sensibility that immediately resonated with us both. The only hint about their creator was the enigmatic designation at the end of the emails - they'd been sent by Dr Axt. We had no idea who this person was and she (or was it a he?) made no attempts to enlighten us further, nor to elicit any instructions or guidance or input from us. Whoever was sending these amazing images was paralleling our own effort to create a crochet reef entirely on their own.

Detail of Reefer Madness by Dr Axt (2006).

From the start Dr Axt's work assembled into a cosmos of startling aesthetic sophistication and coherence. Soon the messages began to be accompanied by a caption denoting them as Reefer Madness, a designation we thought entirely apt. We still had no idea who this person was and at no time has but it heartened us to know about this effort evolving in tandem with our own. The good doctor has been at our side, as it were, almost from the start, and although we have never met we feel a sense of close kinship to this remarkable body of work.

 

Two details of Dr Axt's Reefer Madness project - 2006.

Dr Axt has pioneered a sensibility with her reef that immediately makes her work utterly recognizable, the true mark of a great stylist. We could recognize her pieces even without any designation. She was the person who taught us that any serious reefer will bring to the project their own unique aesthetic which will ipso facto be different from ours. We could not replicate her work and can only stand to marvel as we watch her pursue her artistic journey from afar. She is a master of both color and form.

Three of Dr Axt's explorations with crochet reef forms - note the geometric peaks on the red and yellow pseudospheres at middle and right.

"Reefer Madness" debuted publicly at the IFF's Hyperbolic Crochet Reef exhibition at the World Financial Center in New York in spring 2008. It arrived swaddled in a beautiful blue satin traveling sack bound with a red silk cord. No reef has been presented to us more stylishly. Inside the sack, the good Dr's reef had been bound together in a fishing net to hang in a great colorful cluster from the ceiling. We were so wowed that we decided to hang it in the entrance-way to the exhibition at The Hayward in London, during the exhibition there in summer of 2008.

"Reefer Madness" hanging in the entrance-way to the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef show at The Hayward gallery.

Dr Axt has this to say about her work:

One of the best attributes of my Reefer Madness project is its bracing impracticality. It continues its relentless growth from the silly to the sublime, but always with intensity of color. If hyperbolic figures represent the rhythm of life then I am the center of the Universe.

A new white reef currently evolving from the hands of Dr Axt.

Despite her pronouncement about color above, Dr Axt has recently been sending images of a new, almost totally white reef she is developing. We are reminded here again of the drawings of Ernst Haeckel and we look forward very much to seeing this finished masterwork.

Blue satin traveling sack for Reefer Madness by Dr Axt.