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June 24, 2010

Knit Bombing in Burlington Promotes Suicide Awareness

Knit 1 Anyone passing by Burlington City Hall today surely noticed the art installation out front: a knit bombing, aka yarn, craft or guerrilla bombing, that bedecks the bears and deer in their respective fountains, as well as the iron railing, with bright yellow and black yarn and other fabric bits.

Juggling my umbrella and iphone, I took some pics. It is the second time this summer the city's granite pets have been so adorned.

This type of public artwork is normally considered graffiti, is frowned upon by city officials, and doesn't last long. As it happens, organizer Casey McMains, a Jericho glassblower, got permission from the Church Street Marketplace for this installation, which will remain on view through June 30.

And despite the somewhat merry appearance of a bear and deer clad in, well, anything, McMains' motivation for the display was a somber one.

McMains' husband, Matthew Randy, committed suicide last month at the age of 32. A fellow artist, he was employed by the Vermont Teddy Bear Company and volunteered at Quarterstaff Games in Burlington – right across the street from his widow's installation. A passionate gamer, according to his obituary in the Burlington Free Press, Randy ran demonstrations of the WARMACHINE miniatures game.

Knit 2 That's why the store is hosting daylong games, a 35-point Steamroller tournament, this Saturday, June 26, from 11 a.m. till closing at 7 p.m., that will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The games are open to the public and cost $10. See Quarterstaff's website for more info.

Meanwhile, McMains, who heard from "a number of people" about the suicides of friends or relatives after her husband died, hopes that viewers will be inspired to contemplate suicide, its prevention, and its impact on those left behind.

As for the yarn bomb, expect more additions throughout the week, before the whole thing gets unraveled.

Oh... I wish I knew how to knit. Can anyone contribute to the installation or is it by solicitation only? We will at least make a stop at Quarterstaff tomorrow. I want to offer Casey and her family some wish of comfort, but all the words I can come up with seem so puny. I wish we could do more.

Molly--Casey told me that other people would be contributing, and not all of the stuff is knitted. Given that it's a 'bomb,'albeit sanctioned by the CSM, I imagine anyone could add something--in the way that people put flowers, teddy bears, etc. at the site of a fatal accident.

Thank you for taking the time to write about Casey's art project! It means a lot to those of us who have lost someone to suicide and to those of us who advocate for suicide prevention to have the media take notice. We have a very hard time getting media involved with activities that involve suicide prevention. So again I thank you.

We saw it on Saturday and dropped off some money at Quarterstaff, but when I went to drop off a little piece I had made at the site yesterday everything was gone. Do you know why it came down a little early? I hope it wasn't due to vandalism.

I guess it was only scheduled through the end of june, which is, alas, over. Nice of you to donate!

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