Madeleine Albright's Knitting Featured in Massive SF Yarn Art Project

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Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's contribution to the Immigrant Yarn Project. The installation, consisting of hundreds of contributions, opens at Fort Point in San Francisco on March 8. (Courtesy Enactivist)

The original purpose of Fort Point was to defend the San Francisco Bay against hostile warships.

These days, the imposing, nineteenth-century brick-and-mortar edifice overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge is a federal historic site. And from March 8–May 18, it hosts a massive yarn art installation to remind people how deeply immigration is woven into American society.

Fort Point, the site of the Immigrant Yarn Project. (Courtesy Enactivist)

The Immigrant Yarn Project features around 75 columns (or totems) covered in thousands of brightly-colored, knitted rectangles and pompoms. Some of the patchwork pieces have writing on them, like the phrase "came here by boat." Others depict flags, bridges and other symbols associated with the immigration experience. Others are more abstract in feel.

Think the AIDS Quilt or pussy hats, but with a focus on immigration.

"The project was inspired by the increasingly divisive rhetoric around immigration," says project founder Cindy Weil.


Weil says around 600 immigrants and descendants of immigrants contributed patches for the Fort Point installation over the past couple of years. Contributors include knitters from senior citizen groups, public school schoolchildren, and even former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (who was born in Prague in then-Czechoslovakia in 1937 and emigrated to the U.S. by way of Ellis Island in 1948).

A small piece of the Immigrant Yarn installation.
A small piece of the Immigrant Yarn installation. (Courtesy Enactivist)

"It's a massive, crowdsourced statement around immigration," says Weil. "The work represents the crazy-patchwork-layered, bold-and-beautiful nature of our country, made by the very people who have made it so. In other words, the project reflects the beautiful diversity of the country made by the beautifully diverse people in the country."

The Immigrant Yarn Project runs Friday, Mar. 8–Sunday, May 19 at Fort Point in San Francisco. Details here.