“I keep having this experience with people who come through, and they look, and they really look closely, because the works are so intricate,” said Wonsidler. “And often there's this ‘aha moment,’ where someone recognizes something that's lodged into it, or that it's made out of a certain kind of plastic that's familiar. And then there's this kind of moment of recognition.”
Wonsidler said visitors often experience a moment of implication, where they are forced to think about how their own actions are leading to the destruction of these ecosystems.
After the project’s arrival at Lehigh, Wonsidler found himself Googling “the Great Barrier Reef” to learn about the impact of climate change on the natural wonder. What he found was devastating, he said. Images of a bright, colorful reef, what the Great Barrier Reef used to look like, contrasted against “bony, bleached, dead sections of the reef.”
So far, he said, more than 10,000 people, including those locally, have been involved in adding to the crochet coral reef project at exhibits around the world.
“It's in the DNA of the project, that it would continue to grow, that it would send out seeds to all kinds of different places in the world, and then those seeds would start to grow. It has this organic, ever-expanding quality,” said Wonsidler.
Wonsidler hopes that the interactive aspect of the LUAG exhibition is changing how people think about museums too. No longer are museums just quiet, stuffy places, but rather they are spaces where people can actively engage in art by both looking and making, he said.
“This is an opportunity to participate in what might be one of the largest, if not the largest, worldwide community art projects, that's right here at our doorstep,” Wonsidler said. “And I hope that people will take advantage of it. It’s a unique local opportunity to participate in this very global thing.”
Story by Kelley Barrett