Next month:
October 2015

June 2015

Free Crochet Mandala Patterns


In such cases it is easy to see how the severe pattern imposed by a circular image of this kind compensates the disorder of the psychic state– namely through a the construction of a central point to which everything is related, or by a concentric arrangement of the disordered multiplicity and of contradictory and irreconcilable elements. This is evidently an attempt at self-healing on the part of Nature, which does not spring from conscious reflection but from an instinctive impulse. -- Carl Jung Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious


When beginning my research on how to create the mandalas with specific coded medical data, I turned to other crocheters to learn how they made their mandalas.  Some are simple in construction while others have charts that read like computer code.  It was like freshman year in college when I spent hours at the museum sketching the masters.  The links I've posted are free patterns from around the world. Each teaching me a new technique that has lead me to the construction of the Social Networks and Stroke Recovery Project.  Enjoy them.  Send me a picture of your finished mandala. I'd love to post it on the blog.  

Karin aan de Haak

Attic 24

Marinke Slump Spoke Mandala - I'm still working on perfecting the elongated double crochet stitch, I can't seem to get my tension just right. ARGH!

Jennifer Martin Flower Potholder

For more inspiration, check out my Pinterest Board.



Getting started.

When I met with Dr. Dhand regarding his research and my use of it in an art installation.  I was faced with this amazing wall of data.which you can see behind me in the photo. As an artist, I loved all the lines. Were those post-it notes really illustrating specific data about the health of patients?!  The drawings were later formalized into the computerized renderings which have a lovely graphic quality to them. The position of the patient is in the center in the drawings which makes more sense to me as the patient is embedded in  the center of his or her social network while in the computerized rendering the patient is located at the top position.


In both, the lines resembled threads to me which seemed a fitting metaphor. Thread appears as the symbol of life in  Greek Mythology. There are the Three Fates or Moirai, sister deities who spun the fate and destiny of humans.  One spun the thread while another determined the length of ones's life and the third inevitably cut the thread. My immediate reaction to making art about this research was to create a series of machine stitched webs, such as the example below.  ©2015-Lindsay-Obermeyer-Thread-Sketch-for Social-Networks-and -Stroke-Recovery-Project

I wanted something inherently fragile as in my experience the social networks of one's family and friends are just that, fragile.  Think of all the tension that flies around the dining table on Thanksgiving!  While metaphorically, I thought I was on the right path. The process of making was very limiting.  Each panel would need to be machine embroidered using a sewing machine and Solvy.  After a year of being cooped up in my house recovering from my stroke. I couldn't stand the thought of being tied to one location.  Besides I had learned through The Red Thread Project® that the best way to start a conversation about your art is to be making it in front of your audience which meant  knitting or crocheting.  I chose crochet for all the reasons mentioned in my artist statement.  And began experimenting.  I started setting up my portable crochet studio at various cafes around St. Louis.  One time while on the Amtrak to Chicago, a medical student sat next to me and asked what I was doing.  I told her and soon she got about a dozen classmates also on the train to crochet along with her. ( Yes, I always carry extra hooks and yarn with me just in case.) This process of sharing information is exactly what I wanted. Part art installation, part perfromance art and part community art, the idea is to educate and share information which I do through the final installation and the use of this blog, but with one person at a time at my local coffee shop.

©2015 Lindsay-Obermyer-Social-NEtworks-And-STroke-Recovery-photo-by-Larry-Sanders ©2015-Lindsay-Obermeyer-Social-Networks-and-Stroke-Recovery-photo-by-Larry-Sanders



Obemeyer-Social-Networks -&-Stroke -recovery

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. -- Albert Einstien

Welcome to my new blog created specifically to chart the growth and development of one body of work - the Social Network and Stroke Recovery Project.

My Artist Statement 

Rendering visible the invisible and observation are at the root of art and medicine. Advances in medical knowledge were often based on the collaborations between doctors and illustrators, such as Vesalius and Jan Steven van Calcar or artists working with medical researchers in contemporary electronic visualization labs. While the focus has been primarily on anatomy and physiology, I am interested in the way art, particularly the textile arts, may be used to illustrate patterns of health and healing, whether that be the patterns lurking below the skin and seen only with the aid of a microscope or a pattern found through social network science.

This project is based on the research of Dr. Amar Dhand of Washington University School of Medicine.  My choice of medium is specific. Crochet is a structure in which each loop is interdependent on the other. Miss a loop or fray it and the structure becomes unstable. As stroke survivor I came to know intimately of my dependence on others. My illness had effected more than myself. It impacted my family and their work schedule, as well as the schedules of their colleagues. The research looks at the social networks of several hundred patients who were admitted to the Barnes-Jewish Hospital.  Who are the family and friends of the patient? What is the strength of this connection?  How will their connection improve the overall recovery of the patient?  The colors chosen are similar to those used in a functional MRI. Tactile-lines radiate from the center patient position and lead to the points marking the number of family and friends identified as part of the patient’s support structure. 

To me this study asks more fundamental questions: Who are your family and friends?  Can you count on them when the chips are down and how do you maintain and nurture these fragile connections now and when you are faced with a medical emergency? The study illuminates the invisible architecture of a family structure and network of friends. When I had a stroke, I was completely dependent on my social network; I had to learn how to gracefully accept help from others, let alone even learn to ask for it. I had been strong-willed and independent my entire adult life, so being so dependent on others for basic things like grocery shopping, cooking and doing laundry was frustrating and humiliating. My driver’s license was suspended; I couldn’t even drive myself to the doctor. You learn to accept assistance from anyone and everyone without question. While I was new to St. Louis, my use of Social Media made my plight known to family and friends throughout the country and they pulled in their forces to get me necessary assistance, while also offering their good humor and empathy on those days when I needed to vent. Even the act of calling a friend was a challenge that I found exhausting. I limited myself to one call a day. With diligent adherence to rehab exercises, determination and practice, I regained full mobility and am now on my neurologist’s research team visualizing the data from his study! The round format of the crochet resembles a mandala, a spiritual symbol representing the Universe. In a sense, I depended on the universe or many people for my recovery.

 I view my role as an artist to be synonymous with that of an educator and as such have always included teaching as part of my art practice. This project is inherently a form of community outreach to educate the public about strokes., to bring cutting edge science to the public in a more direct manner and hopefully reach more people as a result. The work is challenging in its construction.  I am currently trying to figure out how to crochet a mandala illustrating asymmetrical relationships while still using the symmetrical format of crocheting in the round.   ©2015-Lindsay-Obermeyer-Charting-a-crocheted-Mandala-for-socialnetneuro

The installation will eventually include 1600 crocheted images, one for each of the stroke patients to be annually admitted to Barnes-Jewish Hospital. While that number is staggering, it is even a greater shock to know that there are 795,000 stroke patients a year, which is twice the size of the St. Louis population.  Ideally I’d like the installation to travel with new mandalas being added at each new site until  795,000 are accumulated, thus making it an artwork made for the community and which is also partially constructed by this same community. Though these additional mandalas may not be encoded with the data from the research, they will allow the public to directly commemorate a family or friend who has suffered  a stroke.