By Kris Parfitt
– The Capitol Hill Times -
Ada Lovelace bent gender stereotypes in technology and science by being the first person to ever program a computer. Recognizing the potential of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine in 1842, she wrote several programs for the early computer that arrived before electricity. Lovelace died of cancer at age 36 and is still acknowledged worldwide each October 16 with Ada Lovelace Day, which “aims to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire.”
It’s fitting that the building where the future location of Ada’s Technical Books – a bookstore currently located in the Lovelace building on Broadway and Roy – honoring Ada’s interests in all things left brain and geeky, was yarn bombed by another person who bends gender stereotypes in the field of textiles. Luke Haynes, a world-renowned artist who uses quilting, knitting and appliqué among many other mediums, was hired by Ada’s to create a statement art installment. Ada’s wanted to create something unique and memorable on the 425 East 15th Ave. site since the forthcoming bookstore will take some time to remodel the house it will eventually occupy.
Women in the 1800s weren’t typically known to program computers and men in the modern world aren’t commonly open about their love for quilting. But Luke isn’t interested in stereotypes and bias, unless that bias is related to fabric.
“I can work with disparate pieces of fabric and create a cohesive final product that is greater than the sum of its parts,” Haynes wrote on his web page. Fascinated by our nation’s history of quilts, fabric and clothing, he said, “I am interested in the choices we make to express ourselves to our world.”
“I did a project last year with Mad Homes and covered the interior of a house with clothes,” Haynes told The Capitol Hill Times of his inspiration for the 15th Avenue project. “I found it as a great way to involve community and bring them together. I saw the old Horizon Books store as an opportunity to say “Hello Seattle and Capitol Hill! Your community is getting ready for some changes.” The idea of using hand-knitted afghans symbolized the hands of the community holding up a façade everyone was concerned about.”
I asked him about his role as a male in a traditional female industry and craft. Having grown up in alternative environments learning trades, crafts, construction and artistry he found himself pulled towards large space manipulations that had form and function. With art and architecture degrees, Haynes sees himself as an architect who makes quilts rather than a quilter who happens to be male.
“Sexuality bias comes up more often than any other judgment. I’d like to have a t-shirt that says ‘Hi I’m Luke and I’m a heterosexual quilter,'” he laughed. Most of his time in fabric shops is spent explaining that he is not the husband/brother/boyfriend/son paying for his female companion’s fabric purchase. He has discussed the preconceptions with gender bias history in a culture of domesticity with many people, he said, “But the more I do it, the more secure I am that I’m a quilter by profession.”
He organized the 15th street yarn bombing via a Facebook event, inviting over 225 people. Many who did not attend donated yarn-full items to use for the event. One guest said she would bring her “Cuteasaurus Gram” who could add her quilting expertise, “say something old-timey and smile a lot.”
The bombing occurred over this past weekend with friends contributing to the old house’s knitted façade. Even the tree to the South was lovingly wrapped. The word HELLO is stitched along the front porch wall, and later, after the yarn tribe dispersed, Luke added the word WORLD.
Indeed, HELLO WORLD, Seattle and Capitol Hill. Welcome to many new and unknown expressions of change.
Find out more about Luke Hayne’s art, http://lukehaynes.com/