“Everybody should have a home” is the resounding and incontrovertible message of artist Olek’s recent project “Our Pink House.” If said home is pink, all the better.
Olek, the world’s reigning queen of all things involving feminism and yarn, is spreading this truth far and wide, with the help of Syrian and Ukrainian refugee women and lots and lots of pink yarn.
The artist recently outfitted a pink abode in the Swedish community of Avesta with her signature medium ― yarn — creating a bold reminder of how significant a home is to displaced peoples. All the materials were donated, from the building itself to the seemingly infinite spools of pink strings supplied by Red Heart Yarns.
Most importantly, the public art project could not have come to life without the assistance of the refugee women who volunteered their time, helping to imagine a dream house in the hopes that one day all displaced women would have homes of their own.
The number of displaced people around the world is currently the highest ever, according to the UN refugee agency. About one percent of the earth’s population is either “an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee,” and nearly 100,000 asylum applications were filed by unaccompanied or separated children in 2015.
Olek was in Sweden as part of a collaboration with the Verket museum, for which the artist originally intended to build a traditional Swedish home. And she did, as she explains on Instagram.
“However, when the Syrian and Ukrainian refugees who helped me install my piece started telling me the candid stories of their recent experiences and horrors of their home countries, I decided to blow up my crocheted house to illustrate the current unfortunate situation worldwide where hundreds of thousands of people are displaced,” she writes online. “After I exploded the house I wanted to create a positive ending for them as a symbol of a brighter future for all people, especially the ones who have been displaced against their own wills. Women have the ability to recreate themselves. No matter how low life might bring us, we can get back on our feet and start anew.”
After completing her house in Avesta, Sweden, Olek embarked on another, equally rose-tinted extreme home makeover, this time in Kerava, Finland. Again, the artistic process was enhanced by the stories shared by the refugee women who donated so much of their time and love to creating a symbol of community.
Olek’s project shows that, even in the most bewildering and heartbreaking of times, there is still hope. By coming together, sharing their struggles, and creating the possibility of a brighter future, the artists behind “Our Pink House” prove that true bravery is peaceful, collaborative, and neon pink.
“Women have the ability to recreate themselves,” Olek said in her statement. “No matter how low life might bring us, we can get back on our feet and start anew. We can show everybody that women can build houses, women can make homes.”