By Sara Karlovitch

Something curious and wonderful sprung up at The Clarice.

Located around back, a structure of pink yarn appeared. It’s circular in shape with one pole in the middle that connects to 32 other poles that make up the boundary. A spider web of neon pink string connects each pole back to the center and to each other. At the foot of each of the outer poles is an affirmation like, “I’m a parent” or “I’m a student.” They include affirmations about sexuality and your belief in god.  

This is the UNITY Project. And it wants to connect us all one ball of yarn at a time.

The UNITY Project is a public art installation that was started by Nancy Belmont, the CEO of the Vessence Corporation, which helps to develop leadership skills. The first UNITY installation went up in Alexandria, Virginia, in response to the “divisiveness and negative rhetoric in American politics” and has been expanding across the country ever since.

Since it’s appearance on campus on April 24, it has received an outpouring of support from numerous different organizations, including Terp Service, which has been sending volunteers out to help maintain the project.

One such volunteer is Courtney Deena, a senior and student athlete who plays field hockey.

“Being able to come out here and physically see how much we are intersected and how our identities cross paths with other people is pretty cool,” Deena said.

Deena said that working on the project has been “a cool opportunity” and that the experience allowed her to meet new people.

She explained how the project works. First, you approach the net to fill out an identity map so you are more easily able to walk and connect your identities. After that, you take a ball of yarn and start wrapping.

“We try and tell them to make it as tangent as possible,” Deena said. “Our whole goal is to make it so you can’t see through (the string).”

People are finding a variety of different and unique ways to interact with the UNITY Project. Take Amber Lucia Chabus, a junior dance and kinesiology major, for example. She decided she was going to dance within and around the installation.

“I was really interested in the project… I’m always finding new ways to use my art form to explore and to see what can come about” said Chabus, who has recently been doing a lot of sight specific work.

“I think this is a really important project right now,” Chabus said. “It’s interesting because of all the questions it’s brought about and all the identifiers. It’s really broad, but I think everyone has one that they really identify with and delve deeper into.”

Ben Zimmitti, a junior agricultural and resource economic major, heard about the UNITY Project through the alternative breaks office. He hopes that people will help realize the importance and implication of diversity.

“The message around it is celebrating diversity. But I think diversity is such a buzz word that is thrown around a lot,” Zimmitti said. “I think a lot of people don’t really consider it… it’s just another word. I think this does a good job of allowing you to individualize diversity… and the implications of diversity.”

The UNITY Project does a wonderful job of showing how we all connect, that there is more that unifies us than divides us. It’s, quite literally, connecting us together, one ball of yarn at a time.  

The UNITY Project will be on display at The Clarice through April 29.

Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Geoff Sheil and The Clarice.

Sara Karlovitch is a freshman journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at skarlovi@terpmail.umd.edu.

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