CYC AIR: What I learned from my first large-scale installation


CYC presented each of the Sweet Tooth Hotel Intangible artists with the opportunity to write their own guest post for the CYC blog. We told them they could write a post over any topic related to their install or CYC AIR experience. The following blog post is written by Niki Dionne, aka @actualfootageofme! Niki is a fiber artist, illustrator, and also the Director of Communications and Social Media for the Craft Yarn Council! 


Written by Niki Dionne

A lot of this installation was developed in a space of experimentation. I knew ideally I could translate my smaller pom poms to something large scale, but so much of the process was unknown.



I constantly had to ask myself questions like, "how will these strands interact with each other as they are layered?," "What colors will complement?," "How much do I want to trim?" I spent a lot of time before I actually started making worrying about the answers to these questions. Because each pom takes so much yarn, and even though I knew Lion Brand Yarn was supplying me yarn, in the back of my head I knew that I didn’t have an unlimited supply, so every pom I made had to count.



My first pom I created with only two colors. My only goal was to see how big the pom pom would get with my estimated number of skeins. It was enlightening, to say the least. I ended up trimming the pom to emulate a standard spherical shape. I hadn't anticipated the amount of trimmings I would end up with and by the time I was finished, I was swimming in them.



From there, I experimented with poms of different colors. My second pom I layered six different colors in a simple sketched pattern. After I took it off the loom, I realized I really liked the shaggy effect it created. So I started trimming in patterns to create a combination of short and long strands.

For months, I continued in this experimental space, and I began to play with the idea of recognizable shapes. I had spent years doing this in small form and I knew I wanted to translate these shapes into large scale.

I got so lost in experimentation that I sort of forgot that I wanted these poms to tell a story, and reflect ‘Actual Footage of Me’. I’m not going to lie, I had struggled with concept from the beginning. I knew what I wanted to create but I didn't know what it would look like or what it would say.



So I feel like I may have done this all backwards. I had a bunch of ideas but no story for 90% of my time working. This was a huge source of anxiety, self doubt, and stress.

So I did something I should have done on day one.

I pulled out all of the small poms that I still had for over the years and I found a pom pom of a girl I had done in 2017. Immediately I knew I needed to try to make it. Illustrating black women through many different mediums is my bread and butter. Fast forward to weeks later, I had the yarn I needed and I was off.



Looking back, I wish I had this vision when I first started. If I did, you would be walking into a room of these BLKGRL poms. However, each pom I created was an exploration of the possibilities, and a reflection of what it took to get to some of my favorite poms in the space, making each one important. 

So, this experimentation process has been long and confusing, joyous and over too soon. 

Creating the concept of my space really came last. I thought about what I wanted to say, and what the individual elements of the room meant to me and landed on this.



Rigged is not only a reflection of a claw machine within a claw machine, but is also a reflection of the contradicting emotions of hope and apprehension that come with attempting to beat a claw machine. As a child we eagerly played this game in a space of innocent naivete, and as we grew older we regarded the same game with skepticism and discredited as fraudulent. In this space you will confront these emotions; Can you win against a game that may or may not be rigged against you, or are the prizes within completely intangible? Although it may not be obvious to the viewers' eyes, this room is an immersive experience that draws from the reality of inequity in a system that is rigged against women of color.   


Creating this installation was a dream come true and I can’t wait to produce more work that makes me feel like this!


All images courtesy of Niki Dionne