SCRANTON — Last year’s Arts on the Square event was hit by one of the more pleasant types of explosives —a yarn bomb— courtesy of the NEPA Yarn Bombers. The guerrilla group has been replenishing their reserves of artistic ammunition ever since, and on July 25 they’ll return to downtown Scranton to leave their mark on this year’s Arts on the Square.
The NEPA Yarn Bombers are 60 bombers strong according to the group’s Facebook page, but it all started with instigator Annie Cadden.
“I pitched the idea to Scranton Made, a community organization that puts together (Arts on the Square),” Cadden said. “I have my own business, Fisher Cat Fiber Company, and I’ve participated in several of their events. As soon as we did that it got popular, so we decided to start a Facebook page called the NEPA Yarn Bombers and it’s open to anyone in the community.”
Cristin Powers and her business partner founded Scranton Made in 2012 to bridge the gap between Scranton’s arts community and community-at-large. Powers said her organization is focused on adding to the quality of life in Scranton through creativity and art, and the NEPA Yarn bombers help to further that cause.
“We just wanted to add more color to the event and enhance people’s experience,” Powers said. “Also, we feel that any sort of outdoor or public art can be a source of inspiration (and) that art is for everyone. I feel like people should be a part of it because it’s very approachable and easy. It’s an easy way to contribute to a public arts installation in downtown Scranton.”
The NEPA Yarn Bombers have since used yarn to bomb the Peach Music Festival at Montage Mountain and the Cornstock Folk Festival in Tunkhannock. Cadden said the chosen target and plan of attack come together organically, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take effort.
“I send an email to anybody who signed up (telling them) what is available to yarn bomb,” Cadden said. “They can do a lamp post, they can do a statue, they can do a cannon. Other people just donated pieces. We all met on the square and just freely put it up together. It’s a creative collaboration, not an actual pre-planned installation.”
The NEPA Yarn Bombers will bomb Courthouse Square for the week, starting with Arts on the Square on July 25. Their canvas has grown from a fourth of the square to the entire space, so they’re looking for volunteers to help with the installation. The bombers have permission from the city of Scranton, but if a yarn bombing sounds like fiber arts graffiti, that’s because it is.
“Yarn bombing is about 10 years old (and) a lot of it is grafitti-like,” Cadden said. “It’s done in the night and you can give a message. It’s a great way for someone to express themselves creatively and positively and to make a community impact. We have people who attach notes to their work for people in need that say if they want the afghan or scarf they’re welcome to take them. We had afghans on benches and all of our pieces were pretty much taken throughout the night which was awesome.”
Cadden and the Yarn Bombers are a small outfit, but their numbers are growing. More information about the Arts on the Square yarn bombing, and the beginning stages of a plan to hit next month’s Peach Music Festival, can be found on their Facebook page.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @TLArts
HOW TO HELP:
The NEPA Yarn Bombers are accepting fiber art submissions at the Scranton Trolley Museum through Thursday, July 23. They accept all styles of fiber art, from quilts to pom poms that hang from trees.
The bombers will need volunteers to help bomb the square. They begin setting up at 1 p.m. Friday, July 24, and plan to finish at 6 p.m. Volunteers can come at any point during the day.