GRANT 185:

Bahia Project

03/21/2016

Meet Olek, the “Queen of Crochet."

Polish-born artist Agata Oleksiak, also known as Olek, is the “Queen of Crochet.” Period. She has gone where no crochet artist has gone before. To say she has taken extravagant knitting to the next level is an understatement. From a purple bull in the middle of Wall Street to colorful cars to vibrant mermaids and subway passengers, Olek thinks BIG. She pushes boundaries and highlights everyday objects to give them a new, profound meaning by dressing them in colorful, intricate crochet.  As an artist, she makes it her duty and mission to draw attention to various social issues and injustices around the world – from women’s rights to sexual equality to freedom of expression. With every piece, she aims to display her solidarity with those stifled by oppressive laws worldwide and start conversations.

However, on Itaparica Island in Bahia, Brazil, where Olek is now, she has decided to mix things up a bit – and we are going to help her. Instead of crocheting, she has decided to take on “fuxicos” –  a traditional sewing technique dating back at least 150 years that uses scraps of fabric that would normally go to waste. Olek will be transforming a gigantic public sculpture by artist Mario Cravo that sits in front of the Mercado Modelo in Salvador, covering it with fuxicos, and hiring local women in the community to help her with this project. Her goal is the bring attention to her craft, while empowering the women around her. The sculpture is called  “Fonte da Rampa do Mercado” (“Fountain of the Market Ramp”), but more commonly referred to by locals as “A Bunda” (“The Butt”). The now 92-year-old artist Mario Cravo has given her permission to work on his sculpture, and Olek has a team of women ready to hit the ground running with this huge production. Our AWB grant will be put towards materials.

You can find Olek on the web, and also on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.