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Home is where the art is

Annie Belle ’13 installs her Senior Individualized Project

Senior Annie Belle’s art SIP can’t be displayed on a wall or a pedestal.

“Basically I’m knitting a house,” Belle said.

The house will be up through Friday, April 19 in the Light Fine Arts Building gallery space, with a reception on Thursday, April 18 from 4 to 5 p.m.

Belle, who learned to knit when she was 16 and was taught by her mother, designed all of the patterns for the cottage-style house and the knitted furniture that will go inside it.

“When you look at things, they all basically are geometric shapes, so I’m just knitting a bunch of rectangles or squares,” she said. “I’ve gone through multiple design ideas. I think I’ve unraveled everything that I’m working on at least once.”

Belle uses wool roving, a thick material that she described as somewhere between wool straight off a sheep’s back and finer spun yarn. It knits faster than thin yarn, she said.

Plastic piping gives structural support to furniture pieces.

Belle looked at floor plans for microhouses — very small and often portable homes — when creating her own designs.

“They’re kind of what I think of when I think of a house,” she said. “Nothing terribly sophisticated — someplace to sit, someplace to eat.”

Belle says she cannot remember how exactly she came up with the idea for the project. She reflected for a moment before saying that the concept of home has influenced her time at Kalamazoo College.

“Looking back, I feel I’ve been concerned with domestic spaces, gender roles, and private versus public sphere.” she said.

Belle financed the yarn with funding from the K Art Department, but the project scale was large enough that the money did not cover the full cost of materials. She recently launched an online fundraising campaign that has raised more than $1,600.

“I don’t feel like I’ve really done that much with my art on campus, and if I’m going to go out, I want to go out big,” she said.

After displaying the piece in Kalamazoo, Belle plans to submit it to Art Prize, a large juried art competition in Grand Rapids, Mich. She said the project may ultimately end up as stuffing for a mattress after she dismantles it.

“There’s only so much room in the world for a knitted house,” she said. (Story and photo by Maggie Kane ’13)

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