The ants go marching one by one… down Germantown Avenue! Be on the lookout for some ants along the stone wall as you stroll past the playground at the Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences.
The ants go marching one by one… down Germantown Avenue! Be on the lookout for some ants along the stone wall as you stroll past the playground at the Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences. These are no ordinary ants, but rather a unique installation by crochet artist Nicole Nikolich of Lace In The Moon, commissioned by the Chestnut Hill Business Association.
Titled “Stronger Together,” the piece features seven ants carrying an apple core, a slice of watermelon, and a hot dog. Nikolich explained that it was inspired by Jenks Academy’s new Principal Corinne Scioli’s mantra for the school year: “Stronger Together.” “I wanted to use the ants carrying food from a picnic as a way to show how we can accomplish great things when we work together,” she said.
Ants are incredibly strong – lifting anywhere from 10 to 100 times their own body weight, they are intensely determined, and they rely on each other to accomplish their goals. “Ants don't leave their fellow ants alone when carrying huge objects,” said Scioli. “They help each other, making it possible for them to achieve their goals. These are the same core values we abide by and honor at Jenks and in our community of Chestnut Hill.”
Brian Aristy, Marketing and Events Manager for the Chestnut Hill Business Association, was looking for an artist to do a craft installation and found Nikolich through Philadelphia Arts Recovery Week. The plan for the yarn installation took shape during a two-month process and then received approval from the Philadelphia School District.
Originally from Northern Virginia, Nikolich attended public school for elementary, middle, and high school before attending Virginia Commonwealth University (’15). She moved to Philadelphia in 2016 and began crocheting as a mental health coping mechanism: “I taught myself via YouTube and slowly started putting up small yarnbombs in my neighborhood.”
After a challenging time of virtual and hybrid learning, the faculty, staff, and students at Jenks Academy are thrilled to return to in-person learning.“We at Jenks absolutely love the visual representation of the crocheted mural on our playground wall. It symbolizes how we are all stronger together: a core principle that guides us all as we rebuild 100 percent in-person learning,” Scioli said.
Nikolich believes “…art is a great tool to help you feel less stressed. Taking time to make art reminds everyone to have fun and play.” Putting down a device or stepping away from a computer to make any kind of art is a wonderful way to be present in the moment, she said.
In addition, Nikolich hopes that children (and adults!) will gain a deeper appreciation of her art through touching it. “My art is absolutely meant to be touched! The more people who interact with my pieces, the better!”
And the next time you wonder just what makes that little old ant think he can move a rubber tree plant, you’ll know that he’s got high hopes and he knows that we are stronger together!