Pali Student Art Featured in Annual Palisades Yarn Bombing Project, Finally

The Palisades Village Green was once again decorated with colorful crocheted yarn work to celebrate National Women’s History Month. This year’s installation was unique in that it included artwork crafted by students in Pali’s knitting class.

The Village Green, a small triangular park at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard, Swarthmore Avenue and Antioch Street, was adorned with colorful yarn work from March 4 to March 18. Crocheted quilts were wrapped around trees, floating yarn fish hung from tree branches and lounge chairs were covered in vibrant colors. In addition to the art, small signs provided information about the women featured in the project. 

The sixth annual “yarn bombing” project was created by Do-it-Yourself artist and Palisadian Michelle Villemaire to highlight famous women from a variety of races, ethnicities and professions. This year’s installation honored sixty different women, including Mae Jemison, Condoleezza Rice, Amelia Earhart and Sally Ride. Every year, Villemaire donates the crocheted blankets created for the project to women in local shelters.

Pali’s knitting teacher Karyn Newbill Helmig and her students also participated in the project. In prepartion for the 2020 yarn bombing event, the knitting students crafted 300 crocheted fish to be suspended throughout the park. 

“I was so excited that my students were going to see their art out in the world,” Newbill Helmig said.

But then the pandemic hit.

“It was a big disappointment that the fish weren’t hung in 2020 or 2021 because we were deep in the pandemic so we didn’t yarn bomb those years,” Newbill Helmig said. “It was a nice surprise to see the fish up this year. I drove by one day and was like, ‘What are those things hanging from the trees? Oh my god, those are my fish!’

“It was fun for the kids to be part of something even though they didn’t get an immediate payoff,” Newbill Helmig added.

Villemaire told Westside Current, a local online publication, that the project began as a “great way to talk with [her] kids about the inspirational women who had an impact.” 

Villemaire said she was uplifted by the number of Pali kids she saw interacting with the project. 

“I can’t tell you how many kids stop and read the quotes and [took] pictures with their friends,” she said. “I watch them walk away with smiles and a piece of women’s history. It makes me so happy.”

Senior Julia Guedea-Noriega is one of the many Pali students who said that she appreciated the artwork. 

“It was a creative and pleasing way to recognize women’s history month,” Guedea-Noriega said. “The artwork instilled pride and joy in being a woman and being a part of such a loving, vulnerable, yet strong community.”

Guedea-Noriega said she believes that seeing women like Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to travel into space, featured in the installation is a great way for women of color to find representation in male-dominated fields. 

“Since we live in a society where men have been idealized more than women for many centuries, a public art project honoring women is important because it gives representation to women who have been hidden behind the shadows of men,” Guedea-Noriega explained.

As the annual yarn bombing project continues to grow, Pali students can look forward to seeing even more women represented in the years to come.