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Satellite Reefs Introduction

Detail of an island from the Latvian Reef, with coral by Dagnija Griezne. Photo by the IFF.

Since 2006, the Institute For Figuring has worked with communities around the globe to create local ‘satellite’ reefs. Just as living reefs send out spawn—tiny seeds that settle in far-flung places and begin to grow into new reefs—so too the Crochet Coral Reef sends out ‘spawn.’ The IFF's Satellite Reef program has cultivated and supported local efforts in 35 cities and countries worldwide, including Chicago, New York, London, Latvia, Ireland, and Germany. Interested organizations can visit our How to Start Your Own Satellite Reef page.

Chronological List of Satellite Reefs

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

  • Irish Reef - Hosted by The Science Gallery, Trinity College
  • Cape Town Reef - Hosted by Woodstock Art Center
  • Indianapolis Reef - Hosted by Indiana State Museum
  • Gainesville, Florida Reef - Hosted by University of Florida Library
  • Smithsonian Community Reef - Hosted by Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History

2009

2008

2007

  • Chicago Reef - Hosted by the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the Chicago Humanities Festival. 

Irish Reefers sort through a plethora of coral as they prepare to compose their Satellite Reef. Photo by the IFF.

Satellite Reefs come are brought into being through a long process of community involvement and engagement. The effort is always spearheaded by one or more local organizations who take on the task of organizing workshops and receiving the crochet models the community makes. These local organizations are vital to the success of any Satellite Reef project and the IFF applauds the tireless efforts of the women who have taken on this task. These individuals and all the crafters who contribute to a local reef are acknowledged in gallery exhibitions and on these web pages.

The process of beginning a Satellite Reef often starts when Margaret or Christine come to a city to give lectures and conduct initial workshops to teach local people how to do the techniques and manage a project of this nature. From there crafters fan out to teach more workshops at yarn stores, art galleries, museums and community centers. Over a period of months the project takes on its own viral energy as more and more crafters get involved. As the date for exhibition approaches local organizers begin to shape their growing collection of individual reef models into a curatorial whole. When finished, the local reef will be exhibited alongside the IFF's Core Reef Collection.

Increasingly, local communities are also taking initiative to produce their own Reef when there isn't a local exhibition of the IFF Reefs planned. In these cases, bold citizens have taken the plunge and organized the creation of a Reef from afar. In this sense the project has become truly viral. Just as living coral reefs replicate by sending out spawn, so the Crochet Reef sends out spawn. The IFF encourages this viralization. We welcome participation by communities all over the world. We require that local reef organizers enter into a formal Partnership Agreement with the IFF and pay a usage fee, as well. This ensures that the intellectual property of the IFF is protected, and that the local Reef is contextualized within the framework of the worldwide project as a whole.

Christine Wertheim curates the People’s Reef (coral from New York and Chicago pictured) as it was installed in Scottsdale, AZ. Photo by the IFF.

Satellite Reefs come are brought into being through a long process of community involvement and engagement. The effort is always spearheaded by one or more local organizations who take on the task of organizing workshops and receiving the crochet models the community makes. These local organizations are vital to the success of any Satellite Reef project and the IFF applauds the tireless efforts of the women who have taken on this task. These individuals and all the crafters who contribute to a local reef are acknowledged in gallery exhibitions and on these web pages.

Increasingly, local communities are also taking initiative to produce their own Reef when there isn't a local exhibition of the IFF Reefs planned. In these cases, bold citizens have taken the plunge and organized the creation of a Reef from afar. We require that local reef organizers enter into a formal Partnership Agreement with the IFF and pay a usage fee, as well. This ensures that the intellectual property of the IFF is protected, and that the local Reef is contextualized within the framework of the worldwide project as a whole.

Please visit our page dedicated to information about how to start a Satellite Reef.