Crochet coral reef display in Marston ends Friday

Posted by Trish Riley, October 28, 2011

“I drove 150 miles just to see it.”

Dorothy Carswell, a 60-year-old photographer from Jekyll Island, Ga., made a trip to UF to see Gainesville’s extension of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, a worldwide project that uses yarn to pay tribute to the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast of Australia.

The colorful exhibit on display at the UF Marston Science Library, made up of more than 600 individual crocheted pieces, began in April and will end today, said Denise Bennett, UF engineering librarian and co-creator of the Gainesville reef.

The coral reef forms the shape of a hyperbolic plane – a feat mathematicians originally thought impossible.

Bennett said she has personally donated more than 200 pieces and that about 100 others from Arizona to Australia have sent in crocheted pieces as well.

She said people have responded positively to the exhibit, which can be seen at the library’s main entrance.

“We had people coming to pose in cap and gown in front of the reef,” she said. “It was very gratifying because we knew it became an icon.”

Leslie Spahr, 22, a sculpture senior, said she finds it interesting that fiber arts provided a way to model something mathematicians never thought possible.

“That says a lot about art for science,” she said.

“Full STEAM ahead: Infusing Art into STEM,” is the concept behind the exhibit. The idea places the “A” for Art into STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Coral reefs are the foundation for ecosystems that are fundamental to the health of our world’s oceans,” Bennett said. “Only 30 percent remain healthy and undamaged.”

While the main exhibit ends today, coral will continue to be presented in a display tower in the library, Bennett said.

From the Independent Florida Alligator
By Alyssa Hubbell, Alligator Contributing Writer and Cinema Verde Environmental Film and Arts Festival intern.

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