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The Green Life: You're a Green Man, Charlie Brown

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November 10, 2011

You're a Green Man, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown sweater in WyomingLike her grandmother, Suzanne Morlock knits. Unlike her grandmother, Morlock's knitting needles are 10-foot-long PVC pipes. Morlock recently used them to knit a sweater that'd fit a giant. A giant Charlie Brown, that is.

Morlock, a painter-turned-sculptor in Jackson, Wyoming, got the idea after she read a yellow-and-brown biography of Charles Schulz that she happened to see on display at her local library.

But the decision to knit the colossal sweater wasn't random. In Morlock's view, Charlie Brown represents "every man," a sentiment that resonated locally. Jackson, she said, had been mostly immune from past economic downturns, but this time its economy took a hit. "We too, like Charlie Brown, like the rest of the world, have ups and downs."

Morlock made Sweater in 2010 after receiving a small stipend from a temporary public art call. Inspired by another craftsperson who'd built the art spot out of an old chairlift, Morlock began experimenting with discarded materials and soon found herself with colorful rolls of leftover mylar — the same stuff that makes Dorothy's shoes sparkle — from a Florida sequin-and-spangle factory that went out of business. A hundred painstaking hours later, there was Charlie Brown's sweater. And it was huge.The piece — which will be on display at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California, through February 2012 — is 13 feet high, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet deep. It's truck-sized.

Suzanne Morlock knits a sweaterAnd it could be the world's shiniest Charlie Brown sweater. It was definitely hard to miss along the main drag in Wyoming, where the head-turning piece was mounted.

After surviving four months of sun and snow, it came apart in five pieces. The arms, front, back, and collar got hauled to Santa Rosa.

"The community didn’t want it to go. They were in love with it," Morlock said. Though recycling discarded materials for art is relatively new to her, she wants to keep doing it, and already has ideas for the other-colored rolls of mylar she still has.

And what did the former owner of the sequin factory say when she saw it? "I can't believe you made that out of our garbage!"

--Avni Nijhawan / images courtesy Suzanne Morlock

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