Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science

For centuries, fiber arts have influenced practical, theoretical, and pedagogical areas of the sciences as diverse as digital technology, mathematics, neuroscience, medicine, and more. Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science explores this relationship through contemporary art and historical artifacts centered on four key themes: the empirical, the artificial, the body, and the brain. A celebration of interdisciplinary creativity and collaborative learning, Radical Fiber foregrounds each work as at once fine art, process-driven craft, and scientific tool, complicating existing frameworks across fields. Can a crochet hook and yarn uniquely explain the complexities of non-Euclidean geometry? Why does the 1804 Jacquard loom relate to modern computing? How did the accidental discovery of synthetic mauveine dye in 1856 pave the way for modern pharmaceuticals yet also generate toxic environmental impact? Why do we respond differently to a woven photograph than a printed one? These and other questions will reframe the histories of fiber/science intersections and ask not only how artists continue to engage in scientific inquiry through fiber, but also importantly, how the medium can be used to improve our world for the future.
Radical Fiber will feature a new artwork created by amateur and professional makers around the globe: the Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef, part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring. The Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef draws on the long historical connections, especially in the United States, between fiber practice and community building and will connect hobby crafters, art professionals, novice crocheters, and students from Skidmore, broader Saratoga, and global communities. Learn how to participate below.

Saratoga Springs
Satellite Reef

Part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring

Participate in this global project by crocheting your own coral for display in a new Reef at the Tang!

Read more about the Crochet Coral Reef project and learn how to make your own hyperbolic crochet.

View or download How To Crochet Hyperbolic Corals here!

Donate your handmade coral!
Mail your creation with your name and email address and/or phone number to:

Elizabeth Karp, Senior Museum Registrar
Tang Teaching Museum, Skidmore College
815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Email tang@skidmore.edu with questions. Check back often for announcements about upcoming workshops!

About the Crochet Coral Reef

The Crochet Coral Reef is project created by sisters Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring. Residing at the intersection of mathematics, marine biology, handicraft, and community art practice, the project responds to the environmental crisis of global warming and the escalating problem of oceanic plastic trash by highlighting not only the damage humans do to earth’s ecology, but also our power for positive action. The Wertheims’ Crochet Coral Reef collection has been exhibited worldwide, including at the 2019 Venice Biennale, Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), Hayward Gallery (London), Science Gallery (Dublin), and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC). The project also encompasses a community-art program in which more than 10,000 people around the world have participated in making more than 40 locally based Satellite Reefs—in New York, Chicago, Melbourne, Ireland, Latvia, UAE, and elsewhere. The Saratoga Springs Satellite Reef on display here is the latest addition to this ever-evolving wooly archipelago.

About the Artists

Margaret Wertheim is a science writer, artist, and author of books on the cultural history of physics. Christine Wertheim is an experimental poet, performer, artist, and writer, and a faculty member at the California Institute of the Arts. Margaret and Christine conduct the Crochet Coral Reef project through their Los Angeles–based practice, the Institute For Figuring, which is dedicated to “the poetic dimensions of science and mathematics.” The IFF is at once an art endeavor and a framework for innovative public science engagement.

Exhibition Name
Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science
Exhibition Type
Group Exhibitions
Malloy Wing
Radical Fiber: Threads Connecting Art and Science is curated by Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara in consultation with Skidmore faculty Mark Huibregtse, Rachel Roe-Dale, and Becky Trousil from Mathematics & Statistics; Sara Lagalwar from Neuroscience; Elaine Larsen from Biology; Aarathi Prasad from Computer Science; and Sang-Wook Lee from Art.
Lia Cook, Brock Craft, Anna Dumitriu, Ellis Developments Ltd., Karen Norberg, William Henry Perkin, Helen Remick, Dario Robleto, Daniela Rosner, Samantha Shorey, Soft Monitor, Daina Taimina, Christine Wertheim, Margaret Wertheim
Student Staff
Olivia Sessions
Exhibitions and Collections Assistant, Gallery Monitor Associate
A light skinned man with dark hair stands smiles at the camera. Trees and greenery are visible in the background.
Nathan Bloom
2020-21 Eleanor Linder Winter Endowed Intern, Student Advisory Council, past: Design Assistant, Summer Volunteer
Silas in front of a snow covered hill with a building in the background.
Silas Seno Mitchell
Curatorial Intern
Upcoming related events
Past related events
Pattern by Abby Fuess ’18
Inspired by the exhibition Other Side: Art, Object, Self
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.