Pittsburgh Satellite Reef

Nov 5, 2023 - Jan 26, 2025
Carnegie Museum of Art
Crochet coral sculptures inside aquarium-like glass vitrine

Pittsburgh Satellite Reef, 2023.

Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art

During 2023, crafters across Pittsburgh crocheted corals for a Pittsburgh Satellite Reef now installed in a large-scale, aquarium-like vitrine in the Charity Randall Gallery at the Carnegie Museum of Art. 281 people contributed to the installation which has been curated vertically, with several majestic coral islands appearing to swim across the vitrine walls above a series of small coral mounds. This visual strategy is in resonance with the new curatorial development that Margaret and Christine Wertheim have been playing with in recent Satellite Reef projects in Germany and Austria, wherein they and their local collaborators have created a series large-scale coral “wall-paintings.”

The Wertheims are especially pleased to see the delightful Reef that has come to fruition in Pittsburgh, home-town of the Andy Warhol Museum, site of the first Crochet Coral Reef exhibition in 2006.

The Pittsburg Satellite Reef has been organized by Alyssa Velazquez
Ms Velazquez is a curatorial assistant of decorative arts and design at Carnegie Museum of Art.

Crochet coral sculptures inside aquarium-like glass vitrine

Pittsburgh Satellite Reef, 2023.

Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art

 Pittsburgh Satellite Reef, part of the Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute for Figuring, is organized by Alyssa Velazquez, curatorial assistant of decorative arts and design at Carnegie Museum of Art. Collaborative workshops for Pittsburgh Satellite Reef with community partners Kid Ewe Knot and Upstream PGH were at Trace Brewing, Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, Carnegie Museum of Art, the Madwomen in the Attic Creative Writing Program at Carlow University, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Yarnivores. As an outcome of these partnerships and workshops, 281 artists contributed to this project. 

Pittsburgh Satellite Reef is generously supported by The Charity Randall Foundation.

Pittsburgh Satellite Reef, 2023.

Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art

281 crochet artists contributed to this project.
See here for PDF of all the contributors names.

Crochet coral sculptures inside aquarium-like glass vitrine

Pittsburgh Satellite Reef, 2023.

Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art
crochet coral wall panels in large glass aquarium-like vitrine

Pittsburgh Satellite Reef, 2023.

Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art

Curatorial Framing
Instead of writing a traditional curatorial statement, Ms Valezquez chose to pen a poem putting her thoughts about the project in the format of a visual text organized in an algorithmic fashion, thus alluding to the algorithmic nature of the crochet models themselves.

image of a poem arranged in a visually graphic pattern

Pittsburgh Satellite Reef, 2023.

Photo courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art

About the Crochet Coral Reef
The Crochet Coral Reef is a research-oriented project by sisters Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring. Residing at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft, and community art practice, the project responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash by highlighting not only the damage humans do to earth’s ecology, but also our power for positive action. The Wertheims’ Crochet Coral Reef collection has been exhibited worldwide, including at the 58th Venice Biennale, Helsinki Biennial, The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), Hayward Gallery (London), Science Gallery (Dublin), Museum of Arts and Design (New York), the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC), and Museum Frieder Burda (Germany). The project also encompasses a community program in which nearly 25,000 people around the world have participated in making 52 locally-based Satellite Reefs, in New York, Chicago, Melbourne, Ireland, Latvia, Germany, Austria, UAE, and elsewhere. The Pittsburgh Satellite Reef is one of the latest additions to this ever-evolving wooly archipelago.

About the Crochet Coral Reef Artists
Margaret Wertheim is a science writer, artist, and author of books on the cultural history of physics. Christine Wertheim is an experimental poet, performer, artist and writer, and former faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts. Margaret and Christine conduct the Crochet Coral Reef project through their Los Angeles-based organization, the Institute For Figuring, an interdisciplinary practice dedicated to engaging audiences with the poetic dimensions of science and mathematics though materially embodied activities. The IFF is at once an art endeavor and a framework for innovative public science engagement.

List of names of contributors to Pittsburgh Satellire Reef

List of all 281 contributors to the Pittsburgh Satellite Reef.

Image courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art