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Portraits Of Patients With Facial Paralysis Show A Terrible Beauty

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Sage Sohier spent three years at a facial nerve clinic, photographing people in the beginning stages of treatment of facial paralysis for her series “About Face.” The portraits of men, women, and children of all ages and ethnicities with varied causes and visible extents of paralysis are striking. Looking directly into the camera, directly at the viewer, the patients smile.

Most people I photograph are acutely aware of their imperfections and try to minimize them. Some have confided in me that, in their attempt to look more normal, they strive for impassivity and repress their smiles. They worry that this effort is altering who they are emotionally and affecting how other people respond to them.

In our image obsessed society, facial oddities can be difficult to live with. When we see images of celebrities with shaved noses and plumped lips, carving and injecting their way to plastic perfection, having a face twisted and pulled by nerve damage seems unthinkable. In an absurd twist, some of the patients are treated with Botox, which is a medical treatment as well as a cosmetic one. The strength of character it takes to allow a portrait when one’s face is so far from “the ideal” is astounding. The pictures that include loved ones show them touching, kissing, and connecting, illustrating how appearance doesn’t matter, that they person they love is still there.

As a visual artist, I find myself fascinated by the intensity of glimpsing two expressions simultaneously, a literal “two-facedness” that mesmerizes by its terrible beauty. At the same time, I hope these pictures bear witness to the incredible courage required to deal with medical afflictions, especially when they affect one’s primary appearance. Even minor facial problems challenge and potentially diminish a person’s sense of self; the poise and inner strength that it takes to deal with this, while at the same time presenting oneself to the world, is remarkable.

It’s important that images like these are taken, and even more that they are seen. These people have a medical condition, reversible to differing degrees, that makes them look different than what we expect. And this is what humanity is composed of—people who look like themselves at any given point in their lives. (via Design Taxi)

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Akira Nagaya’s Intricate Paper Cutouts Look like Drawings Out Of A Sketchbook

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Akira Nagaya is a Japanese artist whose intricate cut-paper creations largely depict the beauty of nature. They are so skillfully done that you might be surprised to learn that Nagaya is self taught in paper-cutting, also known as kirie in Japan. He first discovered this type of art about 30 years while working at a sushi shop. There, he had to learn sasabaran, which is a technique used to create decorations by cutting slices into bamboo leaves. Nagaya found that he was naturally talented and enjoyed the process, too.

These small cut paper pieces fool the eye into thinking that they’re something like energetic pen sketches or decomposing leaves. The precise craft makes them appear as though they’ve been cut by machine, not by hand, because of the incredible, minuscule details.

Although the artist had been creating these pieces for years, it wasn’t until much later that his work was discovered. Eventually, he opened his own restaurant and displayed his kirie on the walls. A local newspaper came to write about the establishment, and while there remarked on his artwork. They encouraged him to show it in galleries, and you can follow Nagaya on Facebook to see his new cutouts. (Via Spoon and Tamago)

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Olafur Eliasson Installs A River Inside a Danish Museum

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Olafur Eliasson, a well-established Danish/Icelandic artist, has installed an imitation dried riverbed in the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark. The artist filled rooms in the gallery with rocks, and created what would be a remnant stream, were it actually a dried river. The museum building has had many additions and renovations, and so the architecture and space is an essential part of the experience, and something obviously important to those with investments in the institution. Olafur states that he is interested in the audience’s presence in the museum and their interaction with the artwork. He wants to emphasize the museum space as a “natural bodily process” (according to the Louisiana website, translated by google). In any case, Eliasson’s installation does a good job of eliminating the sterility of the white wall, and engages the viewers’ senses more deeply.

The idea of the river also relates very closely to any museum. A great museum or gallery will have good flow through the rooms of an exhibition. There is nothing worse than the interruption as you trek back through art you’ve already seen to see the next stage in the show, completely disrupting the narrative. It’s a given that not all exhibitions must be linear in their layout, but the river is a great way to engage with the flow of the space. When it feels like many artists (recently and in the past) have experimented with empty gallery space in the name of radical installation and institutional/spacial critique/awareness, Eliasson has actually managed to make something pleasant and engaging, while remaining questioning as well. (Via De Zeen)

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Gay Men’s Vagina Illustrations Prompt Book Project

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“Gay Men Draw Vaginas” is exactly the project it sounds like. Three years ago, Keith Wilson and Shannon O’Malley were eating at a restaurant with a group of homosexuals when the topic of vaginas came up. This led to O’Malley asking Wilson to draw a vagina on the table with a crayon. This inspired more conversation and more drawings from the gay men at the table. A few months later, the duo decided to explore this idea even further, setting up a “vagina collection booth” at gay establishments across San Francisco. While they were given a few sneers here and there, most of the gay men who participated were excited to dive in and contribute to the project.

O’Malley observes, “In casual conversation, at surface level, I knew asking gay guys to draw vaginas was funny because it zeroed in on what some people might have perceived as ‘opposites.’ What I kept to myself were my navel-gazing meditations on ‘queer identity’ and ideas people (and the culture) hold about women and bodies.”

The duo recognize that the drawings range anywhere from misogynistic to celebratory to puzzling and enigmatic. They hope to eventually get people like Dan Savage, Neil Patrick Harris, Perez Hilton, John Waters, and/or George Takei to participate. “Ultimately, though, we hope people do a lot of things; we hope they’ll laugh, we hope they’ll think about what it means to identify as a ‘gay man,’ we hope they’ll think about ideas our culture has about bodies and body parts. Their responses are part of the study, part of the art,” they explain.

O’Malley and Wilson are currently running a Kickstarter for their book project. With 3 days to go, they have raised $56,500, exceeding their projected goal of $37,000. You can follow their project on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. (via huffington post and vice)

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Photos Of Life In Retirement Highlight The Fun Had In Old Age

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There’s a city in Arizona that caters exclusively to retirees and where residents must meet be a minimum of 55 years or older. This unique place is called Sun City, and Los Angeles-based photographer Kendrick Brinson documented it in her series titled Sun City: Life After Life. It’s home to 42,500 individuals, with 10,000 of them in their eighties, and has a youthful energy about it. There are dozens of recreational activities including synchronized swimming, cheerleading, dancing, car shows, and much more.

Brinson’s photographs reveal day-to-day life in Sun City. We see that the mood is cheerful and bright, as the clear desert sky makes the bedazzled outfits appear even shinier. Here, it’s an enclave of folks getting old, and they want to keep it that way. Grandchildren under the age of 18 are only allowed to visit for a limited amount of time, as to not disrupt the mood of the place by reminding the residents of their age.

As people enter their twilight years, probably after working for decades and raising kids, it seems that they are encountering a second youth. It’s one that’s filled with experience and wisdom, rather than naivety, but still full of fun and little responsibility. The elderly seem to realize that they aren’t invincible (as so many teenagers do), but that they are entitled to enjoy the rest of their lives however they like. (Via Feature Shoot)

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Whimsical Paintings Reveal How Animals Are Created

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Mexican artist Ricardo Solis has re-imagined both the divine and evolutionary theories on the origin of life. In his whimsical paintings, artist depicts various animals — from a goldfish to an elephant — being colored, carved out of stone or even weaved as the friendly mama bear below. Solis’ works connect the realistic style of painting with his tameless imagination.

The viewer is presented with a variety of animals, painted in an almost anatomically accurate manner. Under closer inspection, the works reveal a Guliver-inspired action: tiny humans crawling up and down the monolithic animals, covering them in paint, sculpting or attaching ribbon stripes from a flying Zeppelin. Although Solis’ creative interpretation is far from reality, his lighthearted version of genesis is relaxing and fun to observe.

Solis was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. Despite being brought up in a large metropolis, he was always attracted to art and nature. After graduating from the School of Visual Arts and becoming a professional painter, Solis has a chance to link these two passions together and channel them through his dreamlike works of art. In his website Ricardo Solis claims to believe in “the undeniable existence of a Creator” which seems like the epitome of his work. (via Lost At E Minor)

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Jim Goldberg’s Powerful Series “Rich & Poor” Reveals The Dichotomy Between The Affluent And Destitute

USA. San Francisco, California. 1977. "My life is personal, but I will tell you one thing I'm too fat."

USA. San Francisco, California. 1977. “My life is personal, but I will tell you one thing I’m too fat.”

USA. San Francisco. 1981. Untitled. Goldstines. "My wife is acceptable. Our relationship is satisfactory." Edgar G "Edgar looks splendid here. His power and strength of character come through. He is a very private person who is not demonstrative of his affection; that has never made me unhappy. I accept him as he is. We are totally devoted to each other. Dear Jim: May you be as lucky in marriage!" Regina Goldstine

USA. San Francisco. 1981. Untitled. Goldstines.
“My wife is acceptable. Our relationship is satisfactory.” Edgar G
“Edgar looks splendid here. His power and strength of character come through. He is a very private person who is not demonstrative of his affection; that has never made me unhappy. I accept him as he is. We are totally devoted to each other.
Dear Jim: May you be as lucky in marriage!” Regina Goldstine

USA. San Francisco. 1977. "I love the picture. I am a homosexual. May be if I send one of the pictures you gave me, Jim, to my nephew he will understand how hard his uncle is struggling."

USA. San Francisco. 1977. “I love the picture. I am a homosexual. May be if I send one of the pictures you gave me, Jim, to my nephew he will understand how hard his uncle is struggling.”

From 1977 through 1985, Photographer Jim Goldberg took documentary-style pictures of transients in the Mission District and well-off San Franciscans in their homes and had the subjects write on their portraits. The combination of text and image is still incredibly intimate, even in this age of Instagram and Facebook. The dichotomy between the affluent and the destitute is obvious, yet the universality of the emotions the writers share is striking: pain, loneliness, disappointment, joy, security, contentment.

“I think my outrage about the desperation of the poor — and the dissatisfaction of the rich — stemmed in part from my belief that they represented a derogation from that path, a veering off course that had to be rooted out and documented.”

The combination of image and text is what makes this series so arresting and raw, but at the time of its initial publication in 1985 it was a radical decision, derided in a New York Times review as “a sad lack of trust on Mr. Goldberg’s part in both the power of his photographs to speak for themselves and in his viewers to understand them without comment.” Contemporary artists such as Brandon Stanton from Humans of New York, have taken this format and breathed new life into it through its immediate dissemination on the Internet.

Out of print since 1985, Jim Goldberg’s Rich and Poor has been completely re-designed and expanded by the artist for Steidl. Available for the first time in hardcover, Rich and Poor builds upon the classic combination of photographs and handwriting and adds a surplus of vintage material and contemporary photographs that have never been published or exhibited. (Source)

What comes across in these images is the shocking discrepancy of material goods and environments. The writings expose an expanded truth, though. There is obvious inequality in education and writing ability, leading to the impression that the poor suffer more than the rich. And that may be true in some ways — lack of opportunities, healthcare, and hope are all devastating. Pain is pain, though, and suffering is universal, as is love and gratitude. These portraits—touching, tender, hopeless, and sad—speak to our commonalities, as relevant in 2014 as in 1985.

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Wim Delvoye’s Photographs Give Mundane Messages Monumental Exposure

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In 2000, Belgian multimedia artist Wim Delvoye composed a series of photographs which appear to capture text and note style messages etched on the side of mountain faces. Known for his quirky sculptural style, like his elaborately carved tires, Delvoye manipulated these photographs in order to juxtapose the mundanity of the displayed messages with the sublime, natural beauty of the world’s structures. With messages like “RUDE BUT CUTE 18 YEAR OLD BABE 018 83 87 480″ and “HONEY, DON’T FORGET TO TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE. NINA,” Delvoye cleverly elevates the status of these banal declarations to a monumental scale. In Delvoye’s images, absurdities are reinforced while the overall importance of the messages – because of their ubiquity – is not entirely dismissed. Delvoye’s aesthetic is one of recontextualization and deconstruction – even the structure of website is a testament to his implementation well-known imagery in order to create an accessible and familiar user experience. (via public delivery)

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