More than a dozen local teens gathered in Martin Square and nearby Ridge Road on Wednesday, May 31, to “yarn bomb” and spray rain-activated messages on the cement. The art project was to commemorate Pride Month which began the following day.
Along Ridge Road, the teens wrapped about six trees in yarn with the colors of the different LGBTQ pride flags, including the lesbian flag, the transgender flag and the non-binary flag.
Additionally, using Rainworks, a spray paint that is visible only when water is splashed on it, they added messages such as Stay Strong and Homewood Pride. These messages were sprayed on the concrete ground in Martin Square.
The event was a joint project of the Village of Homewood and Teaching & Collaborative Arts teacher J.R. Willard-Rose at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. All the teens were graduating seniors in Rose’s Design Thinking class which focuses on how different forms of art impact society.
The participating teens said they weren’t doing this for extra credit, but rather because they cared about it.
“We all started with different [group] projects,” H-F graduating senior Anna Arrivo said. “We presented our ideas, our different ideas, to the village. (…) And the village picked the most realistic idea – what they thought was most accomplishable. And they chose yarn bombing and Rainworks.”
Rose said this is “kind of our culminating capstone project” in the community arts portion of his class.
Art projects for Pride Month are presented to the village by Rose and his students annually, Homewood’s Event Manager Marla Youngblood said. She said the village chose two projects this year because “they were too hard not to pick between.”
“Something we really wanted to push for is to put the downtown with a little bit of Pride décor,” Youngblood said.
Participating teen Sam Bouyer described yarn bombing as a “type of graffiti with yarn.” He said another idea that was proposed by his class was a mural.
Bouyer said he’s a part of the LGBTQ community, and these projects are a “nice way to show the community we’re here in a nice, artful way.”
“I really like art. I started falling in love with art when I became a freshman in high school,” Malachi Lee said, describing why he was participating. “This is like my 10th or 11th art class I’ve taken so far.”
By the end of the morning, the yarn was on the trees, and participants were mostly just cutting loose threads.
“It’s hot in the sun running in circles but it’s fun,” Arrivo said, referring to how she and the other teens had been walking around each tree when putting up the yarn.
“A lot of my friends are in the [LGBTQ] community. Just having representation in the community is really important. And being able to show that is very significant,” Arrivo said. “It’s interactive for kids, I think. It’s cool for kids to just come up and touch the trees and be like, ‘Wow, this different,’ because they’ve never seen yarn on trees.”
Rose’s students also yarn bombed trees in Flossmoor’s Leavitt Park on Tuesday, May 30.