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Promoting Mental Health Awareness in Philly with A Yarnbomb

August 14, 2018

A new yarnbomb installation on 11th street between Callowhill and Nobel streets by Nicole Nikolich (aka Lace in the Moon) promotes mental health awareness and hopes to help make people feel less alone. Over email, I chatted with the artist who said the installation actually started out quite differently:

“I had actually made the three flowers with the intention of installing them in the opposite order, starting with the large orange flower and ending with the decaying weed.”

“I struggle with anxiety and depression and some days/weeks are just harder than others. I had been feeling a bit down, and I planned on pairing the dying flowers with a melancholy lyric or somber quote from my journal. But after staring at the flowers for a few days spread out on my bedroom floor, I was like, No Nicole, you’re not gonna spend all these hours creating something that reminds you of how shitty you feel right now. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s beautiful to create pieces of art that make you feel all different types of emotions, but in this specific scenario, it felt like I would be allowing my anxiety to win by installing it the way it was currently laid out. So, plot twist, I said fuck you to myself, and decided to literally flip it around.”

“I think it’s an important message to let others know that, hey, you know those intense, scary feelings of hopelessness or apathy or self-doubt that you feel from time to time? I feel them too. And I guarantee that guy across the street over there has felt them also. I want people to know that they are not alone, even though it often can feel like it. I hope this piece can open up a dialog amongst those who walk by, and encourage them to talk about these things with one another that are often hard to talk about.”

Nicole, who’s relatively new to yarnbombing, then talked to me about what interested her in the art form:

“I stumbled across the crochet artist London Kaye at the beginning of last year, and I was so crazily inspired by her work that I started watching YouTube videos on how to crochet that same day. It was super confusing and frustrating trying to teach myself, but after about a week something clicked and it just made sense. I slowly started using bigger hooks and thicker yarn and began loving the result. I have always been drawn to texture so yarn has been the perfect medium for me.”

“My favorite part of creating street art is the act of installing my pieces. I love interacting with the space and seeing how I have to adjust my work in order to fit to the wall or fence. I also love the interactions I have with people as I am putting up my work. People will stop me about every 10 to 15 minutes and ask what I’m doing or ask to take a picture. I also love the mystery about walking away from the piece and not knowing how long it will last or who might stumble upon it.”

“I am really excited to continue creating and see where I can take this passion of mine. I would love to grow my art into something larger and do installations for businesses or schools or events. I plan on just creating as much as I can and seeing what happens.”

And while I didn’t get a chance to talk about it on this blog or Streets Dept social media, you may have noticed that Nicole earned a ton of press this summer around her much more playful yarnbombing campaign to attract the attention of Taylor Swift. So, of course, I had to ask if that campaign worked for her:

“Hahaha, yes! I put up a series of three installations back in the beginning on July. Each piece had different Taylor Swift lyric in hopes that my friends and I could create enough social media buzz that maybe, just maybe, Taylor or her social media team would see it. And yes, it worked! Myself and four friends were invited to do a meet and greet with TS before her show at Lincoln Financial Field. Turns out, her management team had seen the articles and when we got to meet her, Taylor told us that her mom had been texting her pictures of my installations that week (Taylor’s favorite was the one that read “Don’t blame me, love made me crazy,” from her song ‘Don’t Blame Me.’) The series is now complete, but there may be more TS inspired pieces to come in the future… who knows!”

Thanks for the chat, Nicole!

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