The People’s Reef (detail), crocheted by citizens of New York and Chicago. Curated by Christine Wertheim for Track 16 Gallery, Los Angeles.

Photo by Francine McDougall for the Institute For Figuring

Satellite Reefs

In addition to the Core Collection of reefs constructed by Christine and Margaret Wertheim, the Crochet Coral Reef project encompasses a community program in which citizens of various cities and countries create their own local Satellite Reefs. As of 2020, more than 40 Satellite Reefs have been made worldwide, including in Chicago, New York, London, Melbourne, Santa Cruz (California), Scottsdale (Arizona), Madison (Wisconsin), Asheville (North Carolina), England, Ireland, Latvia, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates. More than 10,000 people have contributed to this ever-growing woolen archipelago. The first Satellite Reef was constructed in 2007 by the citizens of Chicago, hosted by the Jane Addams Hull House Museum and the Chicago Humanities Festival. Below is a chronological list of all Satellite Reefs and their hosting institutions.

If your organization would like to start a Satellite Reef, please send us a formal inquiry. We welcome queries from different types of institutions at different scales. Some reefs are gigantic, other small and intimate. Some involve a few dozen participants, others have engaged nearly a thousand people. At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, 900+ people contributed models from all 50 US states and a dozen other countries. At the Museum Kunst der Westküste on the island of Fohr off the coast of Germany, over 700 citizens across Germany and Denmark participated, with contributions also coming from Austria and the Netherlands. Far-flung contributors send in their models by post. In Dublin, a reef was hosted by the Science Gallery at Trinity College, Ireland’s foremost academic institution; while in Melbourne, the project was enacted at the Burranja Cultural Center, which in part serves women subject to domestic violence. In the UAE, the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute hosted a reef constructed around traditional Emirati fishing baskets also invoking the arabesque forms of Islamic mosques; and at the Hayward Gallery in London’s Southbank Center, UK crafters fabricated their reef around a series of giant plaster-cast “reef balls” designed to emulate the concrete structures scientists build to encourage growth at sites of living reef destruction.

Satellite Reefs have been made at art galleries, science museums, universities, colleges, libraries, civic centers, and schools. The project has also been done in a women’s prison in Indiana, and at a girl’s juvenile detention center in Houston. Each new site adds further layers of social complexity and human richness, extending an experience of making art to people in diverse communities and settings.

Reefs in the time of COVID

The Crochet Coral Reef’s Satellite program offers a unique model for art-making in the time of COVID. With much of the world in lockdown, three Satellite Reefs are currently in process: one at the Helsinki Art Museum in Finland, where the ensuring reef will be featured in the 2021 Helsinki Biennial; one at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, where the citizens’ reef will be accompanied by a major exhibition of the IFF’s own reefs; and a third at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Bouyed by the meditative rhythms of crochet and an opportunity to embrace a powerful positive retort to eco-apocalypse, thousands of crafters are contributing to these woolen installations, which will all be exhibited for public enjoyment in 2021.

screen full of rainbow colored crochet corals Person standing in a giant room of crocheted coral Three women standing among reef scultures in an overhead shot Woman standing among reef scultures against a red wall Reef sculptures in gallery Smiling woman in front of colorful reef sculptures crochet coral sculpture young women and men crocheting, some of the women are wearing the hijab A group of women crocheting Person among reef sculpture in overhead shot

Chronological List Of Satellite Reefs

2020

2019

  • Lehigh Satellite Reef – Hosted by the Lehigh University Art Galleries (Bethlehem, PA)

2018

  • Eindhoven Satellite Reef – Hosted by Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
  • West Valley College Satellite Reef – Hosted by West Valley College (Saratoga CA.)

2016

  • UC Santa Cuz Satellite Reef – Hosted by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, UCSC (Santa Cruz, CA)
  • UW La Crosse School Reef – Hosted by University of Wisconsin, La Crosse (WI)
  • Del Rio Satellite Reef – Hosted by Del Rio Council for the Arts (Del Rio, TX)

2015

  • San Antonio Satellite Reef – Hosted by Southwest School of Art (San Antonio, TX)
  • Minneapolis Satellite Reef – Hosted by Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minnesota)
  • St. Michael’s Collegiate School Reef – Hosted by St.Michaels Collegiate School (Hobart, Australia)

2014

  • Föhr at Deustches Museum Satellite Reef  – Created by Fohr Satellite Reef crafters at the Museum Kunst de Westkust, for the exhibition After the Anthropocene at the Deutsches Museum (Munich, Germany)
  • Zagreb Satellite Reef – Hosted vy Ocsana (Zagreb, Croatia)
  • Sunshine Coast Satellite Reef – Hosted by Caloundra Regional Gallery (Queensland, Australia)
  • Methodist Ladies’ College School Reef – Hosted by Methodist Ladies College (Melbourne, Australia)

2013

  • Manchester Satellite Reef – Hosted by the Manchester Museum (Manchester, UK)
  • Baltimore Satellite Reef – Hosted by Gallery CA and Neighborhood Fiber Co. (Baltimore, PA)
  • Denver Satellite Reef – Hosted by the Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO)
  • NYU Abu Dhabi Satellite Reef – Hosted by the New York University Abu Dhabi Institute (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

2012

  • Föhr Satellite Reef – Hosted by the Museum Kunst der Westküste (Fohr, Germany)
  • St. Petersburg FL. Satellite Reef – Hosted by Florida Craftsman (St. Petersburg, FL)
  • Roanoke Valley Satellite Reef – Hosted by Roanoke College (Virginia)

2011

  • Melbourne Satellite Reef – Hosted by Tracy Hallyar for the Burrinja Community Center, (Melbourne, Australia)
  • Asheville Satellite Reef – Hosted by the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design (Asheville, North Carolina)
  • Lake Bonneville Satellite Reef – Hosted by Brolly Arts (Utah)
  • Pennington School Reef – Hosted by the Pennington School (NY)
  • Maine Satellite Reef – Hosted by The West Oxford Agricultural Society (Maine)
  • Roanoke Valley Satellite Reef – Hosted by Roanoke College (Virginia)
  • Vassar College Reef – Hosted by Vassar College (NY)
  • RiAus Adelaide Satellite Reef – Hosted by Royal Institution of Australia (Adelaide, Australia)

2010

  • Irish Satellite Reef – Hosted by Science Gallery at Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland)
  • Cape Town Satellite Reef – Hosted by Woodstock Art Center (Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Indianapolis Satellite Reef – Hosted by Indiana State Museum (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Gainesville, Florida Satellite Reef – Hosted by University of Florida Library (Gainesville, FL)
  • Smithsonian Community Reef – Hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington, D.C.)

2009

  • Scottsdale Satellite Reef – Hosted by Scottsdale Public Art (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • Scarsdale Middle School Reef – Hosted by Scarsdale Middle School (NY)
  • Sydney Satellite Reef – Hosted by In Stitches art collective (Sydney, Australia)
  • Fukuoka Satellite Reef – Hosted by Museum Lab (Fukuoka, Japan)
  • Latvian Satellite Reef and Latvian Schools Reef – Hosted by Gallerie Consentio (Riga, Latvia)
  • Albany Satellite Reef  – Western Australia – Hosted by MIX Artists collective (Albany, Australia)

2008

  • New York Satellite Reef – Hosted by the New York Institute of the Humanities, New York Crochet Guild, and Harlem Knitting Circle. (NYC, NY)
  • UK Satellite Reef – Hosted by the Hayward Gallery at the Southbank Center and the UK Crafts Council (London,UK)
  • Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School Reef – Hosted by Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School (San Jose, CA)

2007

  • Chicago Satellite Reef – Hosted by Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the Chicago Humanities Festival (Chicago,IL)
Reef sculptures in gallery

Irish Satellite Reef at Science Gallery, Dublin.

Photo © Institute For Figuring.