Knitted Reptiles and Leopards, Oh My!

Talk about fascinating lines of work: Ruth Marshall worked as an exhibit sculptor and fabricator at the Bronx Zoo for 14 years. There, she got to combine interests in art and the natural world and conservation. (Did you know that the real name for the Bronx Zoo is is the Wildlife Conservation Society?)

An Australia native with an MFA from Pratt, Ms. Marshall has knitted hides and skins that are accurate in detail and size. And if you put on your knitted hat and scarf and mittens right now, you can rush on down to the Hunterdon Museum for the last few days of Knitted-Knotted-Netted, on view through Jan. 24.

Knitted, Knotted, Netted provides an opportunity to sample some recent art made with knitting, knotting and netting. These techniques with ancient lineages have had a resurgence in the art world through the creativity and ingenuity of contemporary artists. Each of these methods involves the looping of a thread or cord; this differentiates them from braiding and weaving, in which elements may interlace but not necessarily loop through each other.

Two-and three-dimensional artworks use not only plant and animal materials but also industrial and synthetic materials, creating looped structures never envisioned in earlier contexts. Such work is innovative and surprising, inspiring to practitioners of textile and fiber arts and intriguing to a broader audience. Among the artists in this exhibition are several celebrated practitioners whose work explores the fluid boundary between the traditionally defined categories of “art” and “craft.”

Artists: Karen Ciaramella, Abigail Doan, Pat Hickman, Kazue Honma, Ed Bing Lee, Norma Minkowitz, Ruth Marshall, Leslie Pontz, Ann Coddington Rast, Hisako Sekijima, Noriko Takamiya, and Carol Westfall.

In addition to the coral snake series of reptiles she knit for this exhibit — hung from the wall with care, each snake identified with a label — Ms. Marshall has knit “Ivy the Snow Leopard,” complete with glass eyes. Read a wonderful article about it here. Ms. Marshall considers her sustainable faux pelts desirable replacements for the destruction of endangered species.

The exhibit’s closing ceremony, Tying Up Loose Ends, takes place Jan. 24, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. There will be hands-on demonstrations and alpacas outside with a view of the beautiful Red Mill Museum — so pack up your knitting kneels and head to Clinton, a charming town with a main street along the banks of the South Branch of the Raritan River.

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