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Exhibition: Crochet Mandalas and Stories of the Heart, by Lisa Daehlin, April 7-May 31, 2023, Teachers College, Columbia University

April 13, 2023

Exhibition: Crochet Mandalas and Stories of the Heart, by Lisa Daehlin

On View:  April 7-May 31, 202

Location: Offit Gallery, Gottesman Libraries, Teachers College, Columbia University

Opening Reception/Artist’s Talk: Thursday, April 20th, 2023; 4:30-6pm

Related Workshops: Thursdays 4-6pm, April 27th, May 4th, May 25th, 2023

Info on the Teachers College, Columbia University website

“Crochet Mandalas and Stories of the Heart contains pieces, some made with yarn from my own collection; some incorporating yarn and stories from other people I have met as the thread of life weaves itself along life’s way. It is my hope to include a mandala for each of the “communities” in my life: the Chinatown knitting classes that I teach, yarn shop where I work, Teachers College knitting community, Minnesota knitting group, Norway (land of my ancestors) knitting groups, etc. An extended idea is to travel this exhibition to some of those locations at a future date.

These Mandalas are a developing body of work. Originally (20 years or so ago), I had made a couple of them as teaching samples for my classes in the fiber arts (at Cooper Union). Designed to show the math of a flat circle, the imagery of one was purely geometric, and the other, more organic. These crochet samples have followed along in my teaching materials for years. In February of 2021, as I sat in the window of an NYC yarn shop doing a #LovePeopleBeKind Knitting Residency, I began a new generation of my mandalas which used the naturally increasing factor of the heart shape as a design and math element. Playing with those geometric and organic lines, the imagery is changing and growing. Hearts and Roots and now some Flowers seem to be winnowing their way through my hook and hands.

Some of the mandalas use the interplay of two colors in their imagery. An extended idea that is developing shows similar imagery (hearts and sinews and various shapes, bursting out from a central point), but now on a field of concentric rings of color. Each of these bands/rings of color is made of yarn from, and represents, a different person and a glimpse of their story. This “yarn with a story” is donated by various users of yarn (those who knit, crochet, weave, etc). For these versions of the mandala, I take a photo of them handing to me the gift of the yarn to tell the ‘story’ of the yarn.”
– Artist Statement


Lisa Daehlin is an artist, educator, performer, and alumna of Teachers College (Music and Music Education, MA 2012). Lisa’s artistic identities as a singer and a stitch wielder often blend together in her performance of art song on the concert stage, in cabarets, and in windows of yarn shops. One such example of these interdisciplinary endeavors, her OperaKnit Cabaret, periodically rears its head in various incarnations (including as an online weekly cabaret for the TC Communityduring the shutdown of 2020). She free-lances for the fashion industry and retail design. Her designs can be seen walking the streets of Manhattan, gracing the pages of numerous publications, including: Vogue KnittingInterweave KnitsKnit.1, and Knit Simple, magazines as well as featured in the books Vogue Knitting LaceVogue Knitting: Ultimate Hat Book, and Vogue Knitting: Shawls and Wraps (Sixth and Spring Books), and in Lace StyleBag Style, and The New Tunisian Crochet books (Interweave Press). Over the past two decades, Lisa has taught at several venues including: 92NY, NYPL, The Cooper Union, The Creative Center, Newark Museum of Art, PS122 Gallery, Harlem Knitting Circle, University Settlement, Vogue Knitting LIVE, and the American Folk Art Museum in New York.


Photos: Flash Rosenberg.

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