Eastern State Penitentiary

UNRAVELED: Eastern State Penitentiary meets a creative take on knitting

In the day of standardized testing, deadlines and so much pressure to cram yourself into a box that society can stamp and ship off to the land of uniform knowledge I am here to tear you open and set you free. There is a genius that cannot be measured; it can only be explored. That genius is what pushes you to take risks. That genius is what challenges you to step outside the norm and discover something brand new. It is called creativity. In this series we will walk in the worlds of artists and how they speak moving stories in rare mediums. I present to you "Create"…




Karen Schmidt: "I hand-knit every square inch of Cozy (the name she gave to her work, knitted jail cell). I think of knitting as time materialized. The stitches are like tick marks that an inmate might scratch into the cell wall to mark the days. Bringing comfort to a bleak, cold place makes it warm and inviting. I want to bar entry into the cell to create a sense of longing in the viewer. I want the viewer to want to enter the cell, much like the inmate must have wanted to leave it."

There are a total of 419,879 stitches. The bed alone is comprised of 41,998. The piece uses more than 25,000 yards of yarn.

An inmate escaped by scaling the wall with yarn in 1861. George Black stole yarn from the penitentiary's dye shop. He was recaptured.

Karen Schmidt

Left: a standard cell in great condition. The doorway to enter the cell was very short and narrow. At a slight 5'0" myself I would have to carefully walk through. Each cell had a skylight as their source of light. 

Right: Karen Schmidt's work of art prior to compositing

ABOUT THE MODEL: "Knitterbug" is a local knitter who can create pretty much anything just by seeing it. She creates unique hats and newborn props in her spare time when she isn't chasing two amazing kiddos, supporting her military hubby and caring for people as a nurse. All these things take time and patience and she does all exceptionally well. 

ABOUT ME: I chose this image at a tilt to really give an uneasy feeling to the viewer. I chose to change the yarn to red to give the emotion of blood and passion that only red can do. I then overlaid the model 3 times in various stages to show time lapse and give a sense of desperation and fill the tiny room to really feel the cramping of hard time.