Outside of Peanut Barrel in downtown East Lansing, a tree can be found wrapped in colorful yarn, emblazoned with the word “LOVE” down the middle. The art piece, known as a “yarn bomb,” was created by Diane Barnum to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month, held in June each year to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.
This yarn bomb is part of an effort by the art organization Love Across the USA to install pieces about love for Pride Month.
Barnum, who lives in Lansing, decided to make two yarn bombs for the organization after receiving a few bags of yarn from a friend. She was inspired to create the pieces when she realized that no one else in the Greater Lansing area or Mid-Michigan had created a similar piece yet. Wanting to “spread the love” and with a few garbage bags full of yarn, she got to work crocheting.
Once the first piece was completed, it was placed on the East-West trail in Delta Township, closer to where Barnum lives. It soon went missing, but she isn’t upset about the disappearance.
“I don’t know if somebody really loved it, or really hated it. Or if it fell,” Barnum said.
Barnum still had leftover yarn after making the first piece, so she decided to make a second. Unable to find somewhere else for the second piece, Barnum chose Peanut Barrel for the amount of foot traffic the area receives and because she used to work there.
Unlike the first yarn bomb, the piece downtown had less solid colors and more of a mix, with different colors of yarn starting in different places. But for Barnum, the mismatching colors and imperfections fit the theme perfectly.
“Just that it’s not perfect, that the colors aren’t perfect, it’s as it comes,” Barnum said. “It wasn’t over planned or over thought, and I think that just kind of represents acceptance of all humans and loving them.”
According to Barnum, four strands of yarn were used in total throughout the whole piece. Since she was just working with leftover yarn, she “let it creatively flow” and would start a new color whenever one ran out.
“I think love is the common thread that connects us all. The yarn bomb symbolizes that love all stitched together in celebration of [Pride] month,” she explained.
Others, like Jessy Gregg, the Mayor Pro Tem of East Lansing, are happy with the overall positive message of the piece.
“What message could be more appropriate than a reminder to love,” Gregg said. “I want everyone who lives, works, or visits East Lansing to feel affirmed and supported by our community, and although we’ve come a long way in the last few decades, we’re still miles away from a world that equally supports our LGBTQI human-family members.”
While this particular piece was on private property and approved by the owners, Gregg made sure to clarify that while art installations are generally welcome on public property, property owners should be asked before art is installed on their property. Gregg herself enjoys “surprise art installations” like this crochet piece and hopes pieces like this will continue to appear around the City.
The piece has received positive feedback, according to Barnum, and she hopes to use the tree as a place for yarn bombs in the future if she is allowed. Peanut Barrel shared a photo of her work on social media, which is how ELi learned of her yarn bomb.
“Hopefully, you know, people like it, love it, it makes them smile,” Barnum said. “That’s what I hope, the community of it all.”
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