2020-2021 Wonderland

Yarn Bombed Alice

Tammy Gorokhov

Artist Statement

“Who in the world am I?” asks a yarn bombed Alice outside a public library in Tarzana, CA. Yarn bombing is a type of street art that employs the use of yarn to make creative, colorful designs (without permanently damaging the landscape). The benefit of choosing this art style for the Wonderland Awards is its effect on the community; hundreds of people pass by this library daily, and my art is meant to add to their day in true Carrollian fashion. Alice catches their attention with her bright colors and strange features, while the quote gets them thinking and wondering: Who am I? Who are you? Who in the world am I? These are questions Lewis Carroll asks of us in his famed storybooks and are questions that have confounded humans for centuries. And yet, there is a distinction between the first and third questions listed above, the latter implying one’s role within the world they live in. Not only is this a question of who one is, as a person, but who they want to be in their world, in our world, an especially pertinent question in this day and age, when many feel as though our world is crumbling around us. These are questions I have struggled to answer for years, and ones that likely will never give an answer. But to think about them, to consider them, to grapple with the merest possibility of answering them, that is the essence of Lewis Carroll’s works.

I am not an artist. Or, rather, I would not usually consider myself one (my friends’ opinions may differ). While a pencil and paper do not make my canvas, I find ways to make art through more unique methods. Upon hearing about the Wonderland Awards, I knew immediately I had to apply, using a yarn bomb, something I had always wanted to do. I find the idea of yarn bombing perfectly aligned with the ideas of Lewis Carroll: a form of street art that can be appreciated by the general public and force them to think deeply about the world they live in, filled with the whimsy and silliness of a yarn craft. And the warped vision of Alice, the slightly unstructured letters on the sign, are symbols of Alice’s own madness as she ventures through Wonderland. And beyond the aesthetic value of the yarn bomb, crocheting has been a coping skill I have utilized to manage my mental health symptoms for years. It helps me feel sane, even as I acknowledge my own madness. When I crochet, I am transported to another world, not unlike Wonderland, where all possibilities are open, and the limit is my imagination. I have never undertaken a project as large as Alice with her sign, but, whether or not I win the award, I am immensely proud of the result. While I have been crocheting for years, I have also never had to come up with my own pattern for a project, like I had to do with Alice. She stretched me to my limits, and, in doing so, made me better for it, not unlike Alice’s experience in Wonderland itself.

Alice in Wonderland has always been one of my favorite childhood books, pushing me to ask questions of myself that I would never have otherwise asked. Its confounding whimsy partnered with astounding wisdom never fails to make me wonder. I’ve always related to the silliness of the characters, who somehow make points beyond understanding. “We’re all mad here,” tells the Cheshire Cat to Alice, and those words have stuck with me for a decade. As someone who has struggled with mental health for years, who has been labelled ‘weird’ and ‘strange,’ those words gave me the courage to reclaim these terms, using them as proud identifiers of who I am. They remind me that I’m not alone in my struggles, and that others may feel ‘mad’ as well, but this is what connects us, what makes us belong somewhere. While Alice walks through Wonderland, never feeling like she truly understands or belongs, she is indeed a member of this strange and tumultuous world by virtue of her madness.

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