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Crochet Coral Reef

Art, science, mathematics, and environmental consciousness combine in this visually stunning book

Now one of the world's largest science + art endeavors, the Crochet Coral Reef project combines mathematics, marine biology and community-based art to create a vast handicraft response to global warming and its devastating effects on living reefs.  This lavishly illustrated book, written by Crochet Reef creators, Margaret and Christine Wertheim, brings together the scientific and ecological content behind the project, along with essays about the artistic and cultural relevance of this unusual experiment in radical craft practice. 100 pages of photos supplement the essays, documenting the many Crochet Reef installations at art galleries and science museums worldwide, including the Hayward Gallery in London and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. In addition, the book serves as a testament to the collective creativity of the thousands of people  who have participated in making more-than 30 'satellite reefs' in a dozen countries, from the USA  and Australia, to Latvia, Germany and the United Arab Emirates. This ever-expanding wooly archipelago is celebrated in a specially designed section that names all 7000+ contributors around the globe. In the fantastical landscapes of the Crochet Coral Reef, mathematics and evolutionary theory are united via feminine handicraft to create works of art at once visually powerful and ecologically pertinent. 

Authors: Margaret Wertheim and Christine Wertheim. With essays by Leslie Dick, Marion Endt-Jones, Anna Mayer and a Forward by science studies scholar Donna Haraway. Book design by Kimberly Varella of Content/Object.

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Crochet Coral Reef Creators

Margaret Wertheim
Margaret Wertheim is a science writer, curator, and artist in Los Angeles where she directs the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles nonprofit organization she founded with her sister Christine to promote public engagement with the aesthetic and poetic dimensions of science and mathematics. Through the IFF, Wertheim has created exhibitions and participatory art-and-science programs for the Hayward Gallery in London, the Science Gallery in Dublin, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Seeking to address gender imbalance in science outreach, she has been a pioneer throughout her career in communicating science to women, and the Crochet Coral Reef project results from this decades-long concern. Her TED talk about the Reef has been viewed more than a million times and translated into 20 languages. Wertheim is the author of three books on the cultural history of physics, including Pythagoras’ Trousers about the historical interface between physics and religion, and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace. She has lectured widely about intersections among science, art and culture, and her articles have been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, AEON and Cabinet.

Christine Wertheim
Christine Wertheim is a poet-performer-artist-critic-curator-crafter-teacher-and-collaborator based in Los Angeles, where she co-directs the Institute For Figuring and teaches at the California Institute of the Arts. She has published two books, mUtter-bAbel (Counterpath Press, 2013) and +|'me'S-pace (Les Figues Press, 2007), and edited three anthologies of contemporary literature, Feminaissance, The n/Oulipean Analects, and Séance, the last two with Matias Viegener. Wertheim is an active member of the L.A. literary scene, where she co-organized a series of seminal literary conferences from 2004-2009.Her work explores life in the English tOngue, infesting fertile zones between cunning linguistics, psychoanalysis, poetry and gender studies. She travels widely, presenting papers and performing her unique brand of S(w)Ound poetry. Recordings are in progress. Her research interests include ‘pataphysics, nonsense, feminist art history, the relations between science and art, and the materiality of language as vOidse. With a Ph.D. in literature and semiotics from Middlesex University, London (1994), she has received grants from the Annenberg Foundation and the Orphiflamme Foundation.

For their work on the Crochet Coral Reef project, Margaret and Christine were awarded the 2011Theo Westernberger Award for Artistic Excellence from the Autry National Center.

Satellite Reef Program Manager

Anna Mayer is the Assistant Director of the Institute For Figuring and Manager of the Satellite Reef program. She has assistant-curated CCR exhibitions internationally. In addition to her work with the IFF, Anna enacts her interest in embodiment and socially engaged sculpture as a contemporary artist. She received her MFA from CalArts in 2007. Selected exhibitions include the Hammer Museum, Glasgow International (Scotland), Pomona College Museum of Art (CA), Night Gallery (CA), A.I.R. Gallery (NY), and Galerie Catherine Bastide (Brussels). Mayer works with Jemima Wyman as part of the collaborative duo CamLab, which has staged events and performances at MOCA (LA), the Hammer Museum, and various galleries, artist-run spaces, and non-art-related sites.

Contributing Book Writers

Leslie Dick is a writer who has taught in the Art Program at CalArts since 1992.  Her books include two novels, Without Falling (1987) and Kicking (1992), and a collection of short stories, The Skull of Charlotte Corday and Other Stories (1995). She has taught in the Art Program at CalArts since 1992. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, art catalogues and anthologies, and she writes regularly for X‑TRA, a quarterly journal of contemporary art, whose editorial board she joined in 2011. She is currently Visiting Critic in Sculpture at Yale University.

Marion Endt-Jones is a part-time Lecturer in Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester. After completing a PhD on the cabinet of curiosities in Surrealism and contemporary art and museum display in 2009, her has focused her research on the cultural history of natural objects (coral, insects, fossils) and the animal in contemporary art, theory and visual culture. Coral: A Cultural History is forthcoming with Reaktion Books.

Donna Haraway is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California at Santa Cruz. With a PhD in Biology from Yale University (1972), she works in the contact zones of science and technology studies, feminist theory, multispecies studies, anthropology, art activisms, and EcologicalEvolutionaryDevelopmental biology (EcoEvoDevo). Haraway’s work explores the string figure knots tied by science fact, science fiction, speculative feminism, and speculative fabulation.  Her current book in progress, Staying with the Trouble, explores multispecies story telling for still possible pasts, presents, and futures.