Knitters’ art shredded to bits
- Published: April 1, 2010
Thinking it was overgrown grass gone wild, school groundskeeper Craggy Conman threw his John Deere into high gear over the weekend and sheared the front lawn at Mills Lawn School down to an inch high. Luckily, he was only halfway done when he realized he had just shredded the artwork of Javabrite girls Nancine Lemon and Corrie Barakinanigloo, who have spent the past six months under a tarp knitting each of the lawn’s nearly 83 million blades of grass by hand.
Tonya Armthecity, the district interim superintendent, issued a public apology for the unintended clipping.
“The school feels the keen loss of what was a world class expression of the creativity of our village and our youth, and Craggy feels terrible about his voracious urge to mow,” she said. “But we still have the back lawn preserved, and we plan to give it a proper public unveiling next week.”
The Javabrite group had been invited to knit the grass with Mills Lawn students as part of an artist-in-residence program this year. Lemon and Barakinanigloo clearly voiced surprise at the senseless razing, but preferred to look at it as another form of artistic expression.
“Everyone is an artist in their own way, and Mr. Conman obviously expresses himself with his motorized blades,” Lemon said.
“It now has a sort of punky look, like a skinhead-rastafari lawn — you might say it’s the dog’s bollocks!” Barakinanigloo said.
The grass had been entirely knit in technicolor with fluorescent pink, blue, orange and purple yarn that was anchored to the roots instead of the blades in order not to kill the grass. The artists had planned to maintain the “grass cozy” until the buds came out of dormancy, at which point, they would invite the community to unveil the lawn.
But for Conman, who is color blind, the grass looked as it always has — a middle shade of grey, he said. And when he went to mow it, which he doesn’t usually do this time of year, he was shocked to see that it had grown taller and “fuzzier” than it usually is so early in the spring. So he got to mowing, and he would have kept right on going if it hadn’t been for the grass huggers, a small group of former Antioch College students, who lay down in front of the mower and forced him to stop, Conman said.
The east side of the school lawn is still ablaze with near-blinding pink and blue grass, and now that the weather is warming up, the artists are thinking of starting in on the Yellow Springs High School lawn, which has about 40 million more blades of grass than Mills Lawn. Other knitters and artists in the community have gotten excited about the idea and may be ready for a grass knitting party to usher in the spring.