Olek, a self-proclaimed “crochet graffiti” artist, recently brightened up a homeless shelter in India by swaddling the entire building in a colorful, knitted tapestry. The New York City-based artist completed her project as part of the Indian street art festival St+art Delhi, which is commissioning artists to beautify shelters to highlight the social issue of homelessness. The goal is “giving a new face to these structures and visibility to the people who live in them,” according to the festival’s website.
This particular shelter, Raine Basera, offers temporary, overnight lodging to women who are down on their luck. To make the project a reality, Olek spent a week manning a large team of volunteers and knitted alongside local women. The finished patchwork of colorful doilies depicts flowers, butterflies and elephants stretched across the building’s roof and walls. The shelter has been a beacon of warmth for countless ladies, and with its new sweater wrapping, the unseen effects of the shelter take on visible qualities.
Olek’s project calls attention to the way homelessness is woven into India’s social fabric. The bright colors and designs are characteristic of the country’s renowned textile industry, and the cheerful colors make it impossible for passersby to overlook the shelter and the issue of homelessness. In this way, the vibrantly colored tapestry is significant because it calls attention to a place and a problem many people choose to ignore.