Hook the Deep – The Hadal Zone in Fiber

Travel down, down, down to the deepest parts of the ocean. Down below 6000 meters and more into the Hadal Zone. Here is where Michelle Schwengel-Regala has recreated in fiber the mysterious and amazing creatures that roam the Hadal Zone.


Creating adorable Sea Pigs, which are a type of sea cucumber, in their natural color, we are also learning about this little known frontier on our own planet.

Stop in at the Art Gallery at University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Monday – Friday: 9 – 4 (meet the artist from 9 – 2)

Saturday: By Appointment Only

Sunday: 12 – 4 (Free Parking on Sundays)


It is so difficult to access the Hadal Zone that only small patches have been explored. Hook the Deep represents these known patches amongst the vast swathes of unknown ocean floor.


Brittle Sea Star just chilling with a Tube Worm.


Utilizing her repurposing skills and indigo dye, we are transported deep into the ocean by ever darkening shades of indigo.


In all, Michelle has chosen to design approximately 15 of the known species living in the Hadal Zone.


These patches we’ve seen also show the detritus man has tossed into the oceans.


This isn’t Michelle’s first or largest installation. Building experience by coordinating Oahu’s Hook the Reef, a recreation of a coral reef, and installations at Spalding House, she has used her curiosity about the world around her to scientifically examine the Hadal Zone.

From Michelle’s Artist Statement:

“I have always been passionate about science and art. By looking to science as the start of artistic endeavors, my art practice uses the world as my classroom, and has set me on the path for lifelong learning. With formal training in science illustration I created two-dimensional art for technical publications and signage to convey information. Working in fiber brings my interpretations into three dimensional space and allows me to simplify many anatomical details while still brining attention to the natural world.”

I had the opportunity to speak with the artist and learn more about her process and how this installation came to fruition.

Through Mackenzie Gerringer, a PhD candidate in Marine Biology, UH-Manoa, and also a knitter, the artist got a peek into the mysterious Hadal Zone and she immediately wanted to know more. This fascination set her on the journey of recreating the Hadal Zone in a gallery setting for us to also learn.

Michelle had a hard time deciding which creature she enjoyed creating the most but has easily found the fish the most difficult. Designing symmetrical fins, the faces, deciding on open or closed mouths have proven unique challenges to this project.

Being the Artist-in-Residence at University of Hawaii – Manoa’s Fiber Art Department has really helped her grow as an artist. It’s the first time she has had a focused studio practice which has helped her learn about her creative construction capabilities on a deadline. The unique gallery space of extremely high ceilings and windows provided it’s own challenges in creating a deep ocean setting which she did by repurposing everyday items and exploring the properties of indigo dye.


As a knit and crochet artist Michelle has explored how to transform the basic mark of a line of yarn through a knitting machine, through indigo dying, through unraveling, through crocheting into yet another shape to then place these water drops in unique spaces. The way a viewer may initially dismiss the natural colored ball of yarn is transformed into curiosity and often a closer look.

Looking to learn more? Michelle recommends Alan Jamieson’s The Hadal Zone: Life in the Deepest Oceans, published just this year.

I’m curious if Michelle will publish her patterns for the Hadal Zone creatures?

Enjoy the short video from the Art Gallery:





Published by Studio Deanna

Metals + Fibers + Writing