NCMA Recommends: North Carolina Satellite Reef

North Carolina Satellite Reef, 2022, mixed media, dimensions variable, Part of the Crochet Coral Reef project by Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring. Photo by Negin Naseri

Joining together the work of many hands to create the riot of color, texture, and pattern that is the North Carolina Satellite Reef reminds us of the power of individual acts completed in concert with others to take action and demonstrate care. Working together in groups or classrooms or alone on couches, Satellite Reef contributors built an awareness that calls attention to the complex biodiversity of the oceans and the positive repercussions possible through individual and collective acts.

In this spirit we wish to extend an enthusiastic thank you to the over 400 individuals across the state who crocheted over two thousand specimens of coral for the North Carolina Satellite Reef, on view now in the exhibition Fault Lines: Art and the Environment. We received beautiful handmade objects from makers of all ages and diverse walks of life–school children, seniors, college students, couples. The NCMA is thrilled that this crocheted reef will have an extended life through a summer exhibition at SECCA in Winston-Salem. It will then move, in coordination with our DNCR partners, to the state aquariums on the coast. –Angela Lombardi, Director of Outreach and Audience Engagement

From the Artists

Crochet Coral Reef is the longstanding international project of twin sisters Margaret Wertheim and Christine Wertheim. In their words,

“At a time when living reefs are dying from heat exhaustion … the Crochet Coral Reef offers a tender impassioned response. This is a crafty retort to climate change, a one-stitch-at-a-time meditation on the Anthropocene. Like the organic beings they emulate, these handmade sculptures take time to make–time that is condensed in the millions of stitches on display; time that is running out for earthly creatures, including humans and cnidarians. …

“These crochet reefs are time-laden rejoinders to a culture of doom, quietly asserting … a message of hope. What can we humans do when we work together, not ignoring ecological problems but also not capitulating to fantasies that rescue is around the corner from some sudden technological solution. … By insisting on the value of the hand-made, the Crochet Coral Reef project makes a claim about history and the importance of material labor to prospects for human survival.”

Watch Margaret Wertheim’s TED Talk, “The Beautiful Math of Coral (and Crochet).”

Visit a Reef Near You

The NCMA has placed small crocheted corals from its large-scale North Carolina Satellite Reef in 14 locations across the state. See the full list below. People are encouraged to seek out the mini-installations and then visit the NCMA during Fault Lines to view the full-size reef.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh
Crabtree Valley Mall, Raleigh
Oberlin Regional Library, Raleigh

West Regional Library, Cary
Cary Regional Library, Cary
East Regional Library, Knightdale
Southeast Regional Library, Garner
North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill

North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem
Iredell County Public Library, Statesville

North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, Manteo
North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Film Spotlight: Chasing Coral

Between 2014 and 2017, 75 percent of corals suffered from heat stress brought on by climate change. It is predicted that if nothing changes, by the end of the century, every reef in the world will bleach. Chasing Coral illuminates efforts by divers, photographers, and scientists to protect and regenerate coral reefs and shows how we can all work to reverse the imperiled fate of reefs worldwide. Streaming on Netflix and YouTube.

“Sea of Stitches”

Read more about contributors to the North Carolina Satellite Reef, including Linette Knight, in the April issue of Walter magazine.

Earth Day Commemoration

Experience the Fault Lines exhibition with the whole family at our free community Earth Day observance on April 23.

Earth Day Service Project in the Park: Steward the Museum Park by helping staff in their restoration initiatives.
Family Day: Celebrate Earth Day with art-making activities, family friendly tours and nature walks, and a drum circle.
Teen/College Event: Encourage the teens in your life to attend this interactive event designed by the Teen Arts Council. Bring clothes to swap, talk to other teens about the art in Fault Lines, have your portfolio reviewed by artists and college faculty, and see the wearable art of students from UNCG and Wake Tech.
NCMA Cinema: We Are Here: This documentary about local artists trying to save the world follows the Paperhand Puppet Intervention community and investigates their intention and process as they aim to move us to action through moving art.

Other Fault Lines-Related Events

Check out these special programs and more on our website.

Responsible Retail

Visit the Fault Lines Exhibition Store for a selection of recycled, upcycled, ethically sourced, and sustainable merchandise. Local artists and artisans have created jewelry and original framed works from found objects. Browse an array of book titles recommended by local activists and environmentalists. We invite you in to enjoy the space and be eco-inspired.


Apr 15, 2022


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For More Information:
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Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm
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