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Margaret Wertheim

Crochet Reef Co-Creator

The Bleached Reef - Margaret's curatorial masterwork. Photographed at the Chicago Cultural Center by Aaron and Cassandra Ott.

Margaret is the co-creator with her twin sister Christine of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project. Christine is the project's primary aesthetic co-ordinator, Margaret is the project's manager and organizer-in-chief. The two sisters curate the project together from their home in Highland Park, Los Angeles, where they dreamed up the Reef while watching episodes of Battlestar Gallactaca and other television fantasies. Much of the Reef has been crocheted during long sessions of serial TV-addictions, including Battlestar, Zena Warrior Princess, Ugly Betty, Sex and the City, and Lost. The project has also been fueled by a continual diet of cinematic feminine energy from Claudia Cardinale's transcendent performance in Once Upon a Time in the West, to the ecstatic bad-girl frenzy of Denise Richards and Neve Campbell in Wild Things and Milla Jovovich's leavening grace in the Resident Evil series. Sometimes favorite films end up in the Reef itself when a videotape is crocheted into a coral form.

Large anemone form by Margaret. Photo by Alyssa Gorelick.

Aesthetically in the Crochet Reef project, Margaret inclines towards more formal structures. She was the one who introduced her sister Christine to hyperbolic crochet after reading an article about Dr Taimina's work in New Scientist. Margaret herself is a science writer by profession and studied mathematics and physics at university in Australia. From the start she was entranced by this confluence of geometry and handicraft, which brought together two activities and disciplines in which she has had a lifetime interest. Both Margaret and Christine grew up knitting and crocheting and doing other feminine crafts such as dress-making and embroidery. The sisters were taught these skills by their mother Barbara Wertheim, a (then-Catholic) mother of six. Barbara would go on to leave the Catholic Church and become a pioneer in Australian feminism - she set up the first women's refuges in the state of Queensland - but she never lost her love of handicrafts. Nor did her daughters.

Crochet hyperbolic kelp form by Margaret. Photo by Alyssa Gorelick.

Margaret is a science writer by profession. She is the author of several books on the cultural history of physics, including Pythagoras' Trousers, a history of the relationship between physics, religion and women; and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace, a history of western concepts of space from Dante to the Internet. She is an Op-Ed contributor (on science subjects) to the Los Angeles Times and for five years wrote the "Quark Soup" column for the LA Weekly, sister paper to the Village Voice. As a journalist, Margaret has written for the New York Times, New Scientist, the Guardian and many other publications. She is a contributing editor to Cabinet, the arts and science quarterly, and writes regular pieces for Cabinet about IFF subjects. Margaret is the co-founder (with Christine) of the Institute For Figuring, of which she is the director.

Plastic crochet anemone forms by Margaret - with cable-tie tentacles.