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Eleanor Kent


In the summer of 2007 Margaret gave a lecture and workshop on the crochet Reef Project at San Francisco's Exploratorium. Amid the faux palms and vortex machines we entered into our own whirligig of reefing-madness, crocheting up a storm with yarns and strings and plastic bags. A huge surprise was in store for us all. Eleanor Kent was in attendance and had brought with her an object of utter amazement. When she took it out of its box we knew it was something special - it was crocheted from plastic-covered wire and looked for all the world like an alien life-form in an early episode of Star Trek. Already it was singing to us; then Eleanor reached over and plugged it into a power outlet, whereupon it lit up in a phosphorecent glow. Everyone in the room gasped - it was as if it had come alive.

Eleanor - a 76 year old grandmother - explained that it had been made from electroluminescent wire; the plastic coating is a special material that absorbs energy from an electric current and emits light in response. We were naturally reminded of the the bioluminescent micro-organisms in the sea around Puerto Rico - when you swim there at night, the water around your body lights up with a blue glow as the creatures absorb the energy of your motion. Eleanor's "organism" was a crocheted cousin and it turns out she has been experimenting with these forms for years. At the Exploratorium workshop she showed two pieces, one in fuschia and the other in blue. She dubs this body of work her "granny tech." The IFF went mad with excitement and immediately commissioned her to make a piece for our Reef, which is what you see here.

Born in 1931, Eleanor is a San Francisco-based artist who has been exploring the intersection of art and technology for more than 50 years. She has been exhibited in galleries throughout the US, and in Mexico. Her work has been featured at SIGGRAPH, one of the premier international venues for digital art and exploration. In addition to her crochet-wire work, she has also knitted fractals. We salute you Eleanor as an inspiration and as living proof that one is never too old to be stylish or hip!