A new mural has joined the ranks of Dallas’ street art, gracing the front wall of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library. But this mural wasn’t created with paint. And it took 150 people to make it.
Love Across The USA, a public art project spearheaded by Los Angeles-based artist London Kaye, earlier this month installed a mural crochet of the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with the quote: “There is still work to be done.”
With murals often celebrating great American women – like Harriet Tubman in Auburn, NY, and singer Nina Simone in Raleigh, NC – Kaye said the purpose of Love Across The USA is to bring people together in large-scale projects that spread love and showcase the art of crochet.
“It’s really for everybody in the crochet community to do something important and different with the craft that we all love so much,” she said.
Kaye initially reached out to the City’s Office of Arts and Culture in December 2021 about the mural. From there, she was connected to the Dallas Public Library. “Our country can be so divided, and I felt like Dallas really has been at the center of a lot of the political climate when it comes to so many things going on right now,” Kaye said.
She got an enthusiastic response from the library, “and that was the best sign that it was the right place for the piece,” she said.
Dallas Public Library Director Jo Giudice said she responded immediately to Kaye’s request without even knowing what the mural was going to be. “Honoring powerful women is always a good thing in my book,” Giudice said. “We’re just honored that they accepted our invitation to put it up here at the Dallas Public Library.”
As she works on projects across the country, Kaye sends out the mural’s information to Love Across The USA’s more than 1,200 crocheting members. People sign up on a first-come, first-served basis – spots for the Ginsburg mural filled up within an hour – and the crocheters are assigned to a square based on their experience level.
The crocheters are then sent a specific pattern and guidelines on what colors to use for their 2-foot-by-2-foot square. Kaye coordinates with the crocheters on what yarn colors they already have at home and sends them patterns accordingly so they don’t have to buy more.
People all over the country and world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, contributed to the Ginsburg mural. The squares of the mural were mailed to the library, and throughout two days, local crocheters – as well as people from out of state – combined the squares.
The mural is 31-feet-by-27-feet, and Love Across The USA fully installed it but declined to say how much it costs. The mural will be up until September, and once Love Across The USA removes it, the library will get to keep it.
“Of course you see art that big, but to see all the individual pieces come together and a picture bloom out of it just really brought it home that it really is a piece of art,” Giudice said.
Gina Owen is a member of the Dallas Yarn Bombers group, an organization that crafts yarn installations around the city. She crocheted a square for the Ginsburg mural, which was her second project with Kaye. She previously worked on the Kamala Harris installation in Washington DC
“Normally you’re at home by yourself putting together a blanket… or scarf. People wear it, ”Owen said. “It’s different to see it as a form of art.” Owen crocheted pattern No. 86, which is the curved part of the letter “D” in the quote.
“Putting it all together gave us goosebumps.” she said. “To be able to do that and to share the women who have impacted history in such a way, and to put it on display in Dallas, is just really special to me.”
Kaye took over Love Across The USA operations at the end of 2020. The previous leader was the Polish artist known as Olek, whom Kaye met in New York City in 2013. Kaye was working at an Apple store and sold Olek a computer. That encounter inspired Kaye to get involved with yarn bombing. Seven years later, Kaye said Olek contacted her after having a dream she would be the right person to take over the organization.
“Going through that time of COVID where we were all so divided, I was really looking for projects that would bring people together and do something more important with our art,” she said. “It was just truly an almost cosmic timing.”
Kaye learned how to crochet when she was 13. She started making scarves and selling them to local businesses, family and friends, and at 16, she bought a car with her scarf money.
“Right from the start I always looked at crochet as a way to do something maybe a little different than others look at it,” she said.
Now 33, she’s been crocheting for 20 years and has made a name for herself in the yarn community. Kaye has launched her own line of yarn and published a book called Crochet with London Kaye. She has collaborated with major brands like Starbucks, Michaels, Disney and The Kelly Clarkson Show on installations
Currently, there is a “Peace for Ukraine” mural installed on the World Trade Center in New York and one in West Hollywood is going up at the end of the month at the corner of Laurel and Melrose Avenue. There aren’t any new murals on the docket for Love Across The USA, but Kaye said “there will absolutely be more.”
“It’s truly a passion project,” Kaye said. “I crochet all day as my job, but these projects kind of happen when the timing is right.”