Anne Mondro: crocheted wire
A speech impediment as a child led Anne Mondro to discover that art was a rewarding outlet for feelings she was unable to express in words. Now a mixed-media sculpture artist, Mondro also teaches at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design. Her work interrogates the human need for artistic expression. ‘Art is a healing force,’ she says. ‘[It] can reach out to others and express emotions we usually don’t share.’ For Mondro, like many other women, crochet is a ritual that assists her to cope with anxiety. Throughout history women have knitted, laced, crocheted and sewn their heartaches into exquisite works; as Mondro found in her research, even a grieving Queen Victoria began crocheting after the death of her beloved Albert.
In this work Mondro has crocheted the form of a Model N Ford engine — creating a ghostly homage to an industry that was the lifeblood of her home town, Detroit. She began her crochet work after taking photographs and detailed measurements of the 1906 engine at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. She then studied the images until she could understand how to construct the parts, without patterns or templates. After that, her hand guides her mind. Mondro says that it is only through the act of making that she can really understand how the pieces of the engine fit together.
Wire crochet enables a three-dimensional form to hold its shape without support. It can also be manipulated into sculptural forms and silhouettes, but considerable skill is required to control the tension. Mondro works with 26-gauge copper and blackened annealed steel wire. The steel is more difficult to use because it doesn’t have the same flexibility as copper. The making process proved a technical and endurance challenge for Mondro, who crocheted all the parts then stitched them together. The laborious process took about 300 hours to complete; truly a labour of love.