SAN DIEGO–The New Children’s Museum is the home of Whammock!, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam’s first large-scale work at a museum in the United States.
This is the most recent artist commission for the downtown children’s museum, unique in the world of children’s museums for its practice of collaborating with contemporary artists on its playscapes.
“It’s a bit of a dream come true,” shared The New Children’s Museum Deputy Director Tomoko Kuta upon seeing the finished installation of Whammock!. “Being able to collaborate with an artist of this caliber and share this art with San Diego is incredibly rewarding.”
The stunningly colorful 28’x 20’ interactive, three-dimensional textile environment resembles a giant hammock of crocheted circles, open pockets and dangling pendulums. For the lucky youngsters who got a sneak-peak during the “kid testing” phase last week, it’s a one-of-a-kind place to climb, play and interact with others.
Kuta, who first experienced MacAdam’s work at the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Japan, reached about two years ago to see if there was interest in working with the team in San Diego. According to MacAdam, it was a perfect fit.
“When my husband, Charles, and I first came to The New Children’s Museum, we had a fantastic first impression and felt it was very forward-thinking. We were impressed by how the Museum inspires the freedom to create as part of a child’s development and decided we must do a piece here. We just fell in love with the Museum,” said MacAdam.
It’s been quite a journey to get to opening day on June 15. The two-ton structure took nearly 3,600 hours to construct from over 40 miles of braided nylon. The 14 hand-dyed colors reflect MacAdam’s impression of the San Diego environment and landscape, including references to California poppies, the ocean and Mexican cultural influences. The installation will be open for play at the Museum for at least five years.
MacAdam is best known for her work with textile structures, which she was inspired to create after seeing children climbing in one of her three-dimensional textile sculptures in 1971. Her first work specifically for children began at that time and she has been making textile playscapes ever since. She has created work in countries all over the world, but there are only installations in the U.S., of which Whammock! is the largest. MacAdam hand-dyes and hand crochets thousands of feet of highly durable nylon in her Nova Scotia studio, working alongside her husband, Charles.
“To me, the concept of Whammock! is to connect with others through the waves of vibration in the net,” MacAdam shared at the ribbon cutting last week. “If a child climbs, jumps or crawls in one place then another child will feel the vibration and respond with their action, and in this way, they are naturally communicating to one another.”
Whammock! is made possible by presenting sponsors Laurie Mitchell and Brent Woods; and Lynn Gorguze and Hon. Scott Peters. Additional funding provided by the major sponsor National Endowment of the Arts (NEA).