A self-proclaimed “crochet graffiti” artist, Olek was recently invited to create a piece in New Delhi, India for the St+art Delhi street art festival. No stranger to enormous art installations (she did a whole locomotive train last year), Olek decided to transform a shelter for homeless women. Inspired by Indian colors and iconography, the shelter almost glows with fluorescent pink and orange butterfly and flower designs. Even though she had a whole team of volunteers helping out, Olek explained in her interview with Brooklyn Street Art: “It felt like I gave birth to an oversize baby without any pain killers. I had to pull the black magic to make it happen. Physically and emotionally drained. Was it worth it? Absolutely YES.”

In only one week, Olek beautified the shelter with bright yellow, purple and red crocheted fabrics that truly capture India’s vibrant culture. Even though it is visually stunning, this work of art also highlights the social issue of homelessness. The goal of the installation was to give a new face to the homeless structures and visibility to the people who live in them, which is a pretty cool thing if you ask us.

Bursts of bright colors mirror respect for the culture while the transformation of the public space is a celebration of the many hands that helped create it and those who will come here for protection. Olek spoke about how crocheting became a sort of language between her and the Indian women who were helping. They were amazed at how fast she could whip out boldly colored butterfly patterns and soon the act of creating art together became a bonding experience for the whole team.

Some of the women were hired by Olek, but the majority of the women just showed up with knitting needles, happy to be part of this special experience. In a country where women have very few rights, Olek wanted to empower women artists and give them a chance to let their voice be heard. This art installation brought to the streets a traditional art that is usually practiced in the privacy of their homes. The whole project became a shining example of female empowerment.

While she was working in India, Olek did her best to blend into the culture and insisted on working in a sari during the whole installation project. In her interview with BSA, she laughed about how comfortable they were to wear and also how revealing a sari is. Olek added that she loved seeing how Indian women were completely at ease with their bodies.

Make sure you read the whole interview on the process and challenges of working in India on Brooklyn Street Art. And if you’re feeling inspired, check out our knitting class and start your own art project.

Are you inspired to whip out those crochet needles? Let us know what you think of this art installation in the comments below!