Fiber artist Tatyana Yanishevsky ventured into the world of knitting with a simple sweater she knitted while studying biology and art at Brown University fifteen years ago. Finding the sweater to be ugly and devoid of form, Yanishevsky decided to knit flowers, drawing inspiration from her biology classes.
For her senior year visual arts thesis, Yanishevsky knitted eight precise replicas of the flowers she had studied in her biology class. Upon graduation, Yanishevsky started working as a scientist, while continuing to knit in her free time.
Yanishevsky has been adding new knitted pieces to her huge garden since graduation and nineteen of those pieces have been displayed at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
She says the subject matter and techniques she uses are similar in nature. The creative process comes naturally: “Just as a plant grows cell by cell, I create my replicas stitch by stitch. I feel like I’m following a natural process, that’s why knitting floral forms sounds logical to me. I wanted to document the flowers I examined in large scale, because they are beautiful and eye-catching.”
Knitting is a highly flexible and multi-faceted process: Numerous stitches and textures can be obtained through a few knitting techniques.
Yanishevsky forms veins by using cables and ridges, while using lace patterns to represent light and translucent tissue. She prefers thick yarns to knit coarse and meandering vines, roots and trunks. She goes on excursions to obtain specimens for her projects, and uses the Internet and scientific books to refine her designs. She is known to pick flowers on her way home, only to dissect them to examine them up close.
The only aspect that is not realistic about Yanishevsky’s knitted sculptures is their scale: She keeps them large in order to better display the details. Although she often gets criticized for knitting caricatures of flowers, Yanishevsky says she holds a magnifying glass to various plants that we miss in our day-to-day life to their miniature size.
Click here to see other works by Tatyana Yanishevsky.