Last weekend, I joined Friends of the Kezar Triangle for a picnic in San Francisco. The lovely Sam and Carla invited me to contribute a participatory art project to the event, and I came up with a set of modular picnic blankets that can be easily re-configured for different size groups. In this post, I'll share a few sneak-peeks at the design process and share some photos of the finished blanket system. Oh, and one other important detail--this little park doubles as a gopher field!
The Design Concept
This system of small triangle shaped blankets allows for flexibility in terms of how many people want to sit together. It is also, of course, fun to arrange and re-arrange them into crazy shapes! It's sort of like tangrams in kindergarten (remember those?), but giant sized.
Field Testing (pun intended)
It worked! There's still some finishing to do on the blankets, but I was able to get all the triangles cut in time for a first test at the November 6 picnic.
And here's the very best part: one of every three triangles in the blanket set (24 total) have holes the same size as the real gopher holes that are all over the park. They serve as a standing invitation for the gophers to "join" us at our picnic. And truly, not just the gophers, but the trees and the insects and the birds and all the creatures that share this park. Worms too. It's a peaceful gesture that embodies a compassionate and playful relationship with nature.
To emphasize this gesture, everyone gets to join in (at future events as well) and embroider designs around the holes in the blankets (in soil-colored thread). The embroidery work is sort of like a tiny welcome mat - a design that marks the meeting of two worlds. Of course, a real gopher is unlikely to use one of these holes, but it's the gesture that we love and the many peaceful practices that such a gesture encourages and inspires. Nevertheless, we thought it was fun to line up the blanket holes with the real gopher holes in the grassy field just in case.
Yes! A real live gopher suddenly poked its little head up through one of the blanket holes! Carla and I were sitting on the blanket next to this red one and I practically jumped to the moon and back with joy and excitement. And of course, I'm ecstatic that Carla caught the little visitor with her camera. Note: This hole still needs embroidery - maybe you'll join us at the next picnic and add some?
The gopher must have seen one of Sam's sweet hand-drawn event posters, as he popped up right about 3pm, more promptly than most of the humans.
You'll find plenty more examples of our custom work here, and you can keep up with Friends of the Kezar Triangle on their Facebook page. Thanks Carla & Sam for the chance to be creative and playful with you!