1.4 million feet of rope and 350 gallons of house paint aren’t exactly par-for-the-course supplies for a knitting project. 

click to enlarge The first of 11 million feed of rope arrives in semis for insallation at Campbell Park, N.W. 11th & Broadway which is directly in front of the site for the new Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center.  Construction of some adjacent offices has already began.  10-2-14.  mh
  • The first of 11 million feed of rope arrives in semis for insallation at Campbell Park, N.W. 11th & Broadway which is directly in front of the site for the new Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center. Construction of some adjacent offices has already began. 10-2-14. mh

1.4 million feet of rope and 350 gallons of house paint aren’t exactly par-for-the-course supplies for a knitting project. But Orly Genger isn’t your average knitter. The fiber artist and sculptor got started making rope creations. In her professional work, she dealt in mixed media, primarily with plaster and reclaimed or salvaged materials.

“I started with crocheting, with normal yarn, and then I did it with my hands, and then I made the transition to climbing rope,” Genger said. “I was just taken with how smooth and malleable it is.” The creations started to grow and change, and her enthusiasm did as well. Soon, she had abandoned her traditional sculptures for something far more intriguing. Along the way, she started working with salvaged lobster-fishing rope.

“The transition to lobster rope was a little challenging at first because it was so rough,” Genger said. “But the texture had a quality to it that appealed to me.”

She spends hours cleaning the rope of debris from its original purpose, picking out bits of lobster claws and fish bones to prepare it for the paint.

“The paint serves two purposes: It provides the color, but then I use the type of paint that’s used on houses so it works as a seal for the rope,” Genger said.

click to enlarge The first of 11 million feed of rope arrives at Campbell Park, N.W. 11th & Broadway for the first art installation titled Orly Genger Terra at the new Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center location.  Construction of some adjacent offices has already began.  10-2-14.  mh
  • The first of 11 million feed of rope arrives at Campbell Park, N.W. 11th & Broadway for the first art installation titled Orly Genger Terra at the new Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center location. Construction of some adjacent offices has already began. 10-2-14. mh

Her newest work is an outdoor exhibit called Terra, which Genger and a group of volunteers are weaving into existence. They have been working on the installation since four semitrucks full of rope arrived on the first of the month. The process will take two full weeks, and the piece will inhabit the future location of Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center.

While Terra is a very large project, it is not Genger’s largest. That distinction goes to Red, Yellow and Blue at Madison Square Park in New York City, which consists of huge, brightly colored loops and whorls winding through the park.

The site of the Oklahoma installation inspired Terra — or at least filled in the details. While Genger had an idea of what she would create, she said she is never certain until she sees the location.

“I think what appealed to me most was the red dirt,” she said. “The other thing that inspired me was the wind.”

The 350 gallons of paint are a rich terra-cotta color that coats every inch of the rope. The piece will wind its way through the park — a visual representation of Oklahoma wind.

“It’s never really fully formed until I see the space,” Genger said. “The space is what speaks to me and determines how it’s going to look.”

The broad, sweeping expanse of space we have here in Oklahoma made her want to build. Visitors can view Terra through October of 2015.

Print headline: Weaving town, A dazzling outdoor exhibit by fiber artist Orly Genger adorns the future site of Oklahoma Contemporary.

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