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Sculptor Dana Hemenway Turns Extension Cords Into Wired Art
Lauren Murrow | Photo: Aya Brackett | August 5, 2014
Dana Hemenway electrifies the art of macramé.
It all started with a retro bikini. Between exhibitions in 2012, sculptor Dana Hemenway bought a stack of used ’60s-era craft books on knots. “They were so funky and dated,” she remembers. “One gave step-by-step instructions on how to macramé your own bathing suit.” Though Hemenway had no use for DIY beachwear, the twisted patterns intrigued her. So when she spotted four neon-green extension cords tangled in the corner of her Bayview studio, she thought, “What if I really push the boundaries of macramé?” she says.
Hemenway strung the extension cords from a dowel and began experimenting with repetitive knots, later punctuating the patterns with softball-size wooden beads. (Unlike traditional macramé, Hemenway’s cord slinging causes calluses.) “I love the idea of taking something so utilitarian and turning it into a crafted object,” she says. “Who says fine art can’t be functional?”
The largest of Hemenway’s macramé installations measures 8 by 13 feet and incorporates over two dozen extension cords. Twenty-six working lightbulbs cascade into a glowing pool at its base. The effect—on display this month at Aldea Home—stops passersby in their tracks. “Macramé blurs the line between art and design,” Hemenway says. “It’s just this glorious mess of knots.”
$300 to $8,000 at Aldea Home, 890 Valencia St. (near 20th St.), 415-865-9807
Originally published in the August issue of San Francisco