Karen Schmidt: Cozy
“I hand-knit every square inch of Cozy. I think of knitting as time materialized. The stitches are like tick marks that an inmate might scratch into the cell wall to mark the days.
Bringing comfort to a bleak, cold place makes it warm and inviting. I want to bar entry into the cell to create a sense of longing in the viewer. I want the viewer to want to enter the cell, much like the inmate must have wanted to leave it.” -K.S.
There are a total of 419,879 stitches in Cozy (the bed alone is comprised of 41,998). The piece uses more than 25,000 yards of yarn.
Ms. Schmidt refers in her audio stop to an inmate who escaped by scaling the wall with yarn. The escape took place in 1861, when inmate George Black stole yarn from the penitentiary’s dye shop. He was recaptured.
Karen Schmidt is a painter and graphic designer from Philadelphia who has been knitting for almost 30 years. Her designs are published in Debbie Stoller’s Stitch ’n Bitch: The Knitter’s Handbook. Karen is also an accordionist who performs with The Big Mess Orchestra. Her ongoing portrait project, Send Me Your Head, can be viewed at www.sendmeyourhead.com
Photos: Sandy Sorlien, 2011
Eastern State receives State arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Arts programming is also made possible with funding from Eastern State’s Halloween Fundraiser, Terror Behind the Walls.