Astounding Sculptures You Won’t Believe Are Made Of Cast Paper

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It is difficult to believe that the astounding, realistic sculptures of husband and wife duo Allen and Patty Eckman are cast from paper. Inspired by cast paper techniques of mid-20th century Mexico, the couple has developed and trademarked a unique process called the Eckman Method®. Pouring paper pulp instead of bronze into silicone moulds, they are able to produce lightweight sculptures with an astonishing level of detail. Allen’s work centers on the history of the American West and Native American civilization, content that blends seamlessly with Patty’s focus on wild flora and fauna.

Allen, who himself is of Cherokee descent, seems to pick up where 19th century American bronze artists like Hermon Atkins MacNeil or James Earle Fraser left off. Echoing the sentiment of these early settlers to the West, Eckman portrays the vanishing Native American population with dignity and reverence. Many of their sculptures are colossal, looming above viewers with magnificent authority. Others are miniature, precious to behold. The Eckmans capture scenes both active and pastoral with equal attention to detail; the cowboy, blazing ahead on horseback, lasso in hand, is seen with as much clarity as the native American hunter, who rests for a moment with his equine companion, absorbing the sights of the natural world. Like living specimens of times and cultures too rarely recorded by history, mothers and children dance in historically-accurate clothing.

In their stunning visual work, the Eckmans are able to merge a new, innovative process with subject matter as timeless as our country, breathing new life into the cannon of work created by great American sculptures of the past. (via BeautifulLife)
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Intricate Beasts Painted Onto Wild Turkey Feathers

brenda-lyons-art9106699202710669921371066992046Compelled by her love for birds of prey, the Connecticut-based artist Brenda Lyons paints naturalistic images of animals real and imagined onto delicate feathers shed by wild turkeys. Her painting style is heavily influenced by the work of 19th century ornithologist John James Audubon, the author of the legendary illustrated text The Birds of America. Juxtaposed with the indexical aesthetic of her illustrations is the imaginative and fragile surfaces, which miraculously hold the luminous, soulful animal portraits.

Lyons’s work is a true marriage of science and imagination; alongside the more objective Audubon, she cites influences like Arthur Rackham and Susan Seddon-Boulet, famed for their magical images of faeries and mythological beings. With her brush, pen, and pencil, Lyons depicts the fantastical phoenix with the same realism as she grants the gray-nosed golden retriever. Domestic animals are afforded the same wildness as feral creatures; a cat sits, a mischievous glint in his eye.

The paintings, like living beasts, blend seamlessly into the turkey feathers, as if they grew and sprung forth from the same mother bird. The curves of the lost feathers dictate the movement and form of the animals; an eagle’s wing vanishes into the downey tufts of twin feathers, their shafts seeming to support his body. The phoenix crouches, his talons caught in the ashes that collect at the base of the feather.

For the artist, the painted features are a way of satisfying her wanderlust; like birds of flight, her hands dance, imagining strange and wonderful worlds where animals run wild. Take a look. (via Oddity Central)
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Fairytale Princess Mugshots Are Both Alarming And Totally Awesome

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Normally, fairytale princess characters are the epitome of chastity and innocence. With her series on folk stories, the Spain-based illustrator Marilen Adrover turns the concept of feminine modesty and purity on its head, presenting the gruesome mugshots of legendary heroines. Far from her days of resting piteously in a glass coffin, Snow White, an icon of the selfless domesticity of any ideal wife or helpmate, is arrested for sexual misconduct. Little Red Riding Hood, blood smeared across her once naive rosy cheeks, is taken in on murder charges. Poor, young Goldilocks, no longer a helpless child in search of shelter, has lived a life of crime, and she is reprimanded for breaking and entering. Lewis Carroll’s sweet Alice has grown disillusioned with the real world, turning to her own dangerous wonderland of psychotropic drugs.

By placing these icons of feminine docility and martyrdom in the context of contemporary crime, Adrover cleverly subverts the traditional madonna-whore dichotomy that persists narratives about young women. Like an angst-ridden teen, each vixen stares at her captives teasingly, hoping to challenge their authority. They are no longer defined by their histories of idyllic pastoral innocence, but they certainly cannot be pegged solely as unruly miscreants. Both beloved and dangerous, they refuse to conform to a single fantasy, playing with our culture’s deeply ingrained prejudices and assumptions.

In another ambitious series, Adrover explores the painful pressures facing the bodies of women, presenting evocative portraits of eating disorders and plastic surgery. Her imagined manifestation of anorexia is a bloody red orb, shining outwards from the belly of a woman. In her vision of orthorexia, the orb is blue. Each image, evocative of watercolor painting, subtly explores the persistent emotional traumas and obsessions that burden the human spirit. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor)
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Marvelous Tiny Worlds Made Inside Toilet Paper Rolls

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For her project Rouleaux, the French multimedia artist Annastassia Elias builds tiny world within single toilet paper rolls. Lit from behind, her delightful cardboard scenes appear like stills from a mysterious work of shadow puppetry. Here, the roll, most commonly a piece of trash associated with the mundane rituals of domestic life, becomes elevated to the realm of high art. Elias’s visual narratives span time and space; as surely as summer swings fade to frigid snowmen, we move from an underwater universe to the barber shop around the corner.

Caught between the circular borders of the toilet paper roll, Elias’s characters seem to emerge from the cardboard of their own volition. Each racehorse and dinosaur is constructed from cut pieces of paper that share their color with the naked roll itself. The artist chooses not to paint either the rolls or the scenes that emerge from within them, allowing the textured, sand-hued paper to maintain a uniform circularity; ultimately, each tiny world appears to be eternally collapsing into itself. Horses run in circles, and a weary man and his donkey, who lowers his head in exhaustion, appear to trudge forward down a path that will only lead to the start.

Fitting in the palm of one’s hand, Elias’s delicate pieces remind us of the preciousness of even the most banal moments. Beneath sheets of toilet tissue, we might discover secret universes, available only to those with a childlike imagination and a thirst for adventure. Rouleaux is now available as a book, and the pieces are currently on view at the National Museum of Singapore until August 3, 2014. (via Demilked)
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Delightful GIFs Of Adorable Monsters Capture Childhood’s Fears

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 With his collection of delightful three-dimensional GIFs, the illustrator Dain Fagerholm creates whimsical universes that are both wondrous and terrifying. Filled with monsters reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s “wild things,” the precious animations exist in a space caught between childhood nightmares and dreams. The artist draws each by hand, and the illusion of three-dimensionally of the work is expressed by a fast-paced alternating between a few images drawn from similar but differing perspectives.

Fagerholm’s lovely work is infused with a playful sense of anxiety; his characters, both human and otherwise, curl on the ground of tightly enclosed spaces like affrighted children. Wide-eyed and appearing to move manically back and forth, they hold their knees close to their chest. In these strange, surreal narratives, we are invited to feel the claustrophobia of a time out, recalling the lonesomeness and isolation of being bound to our rooms. One girl seems to be trapped within a TV screen, seemingly sucked into a blue, static-filled haze by her own imagination, peering curiously and excitedly outward.

These sweet, solitary creatures play and daydream in a dark state of nighttime unease. A seven-headed dragon evokes images of the beast from the biblical text Revelations, recalling (in an unexpectedly adorable way) frightful notions of eternity and punishment. As if pulled from films like The Shining or Poltergeist, Fagerholm’s characters transcend the real world, reaching instead for a chaotic, nervous aesthetic. With eyes dazed like hypnotic spirals, these little monsters seem to wait impatiently for sunrise and open air, for someone to keep them company. (via Demilked)

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Women Take To The Streets Wearing Menstrual Blood Stains

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Fed up with the shame surrounding their periods, the Spanish performance collective Sangre Menstrual took over the public streets in sets of white pants stained with menstrual blood. This performance artwork was politically motivated; as the group writes in their “Manifesto for the Visibility of the Period,” the taboo surrounding menstruation serves to oppress women and reinforce patriarchal systems.

By making a public display of their shedding uterine linings, the group hopes to reclaim the female body and free normal bodily functions from shame and judgement. Since the earliest books of the bible and before, menstruation has been viewed as unclean, and often women have even been kept separate from men during their periods. Sangre Menstrual, whose name literally translates to “menstrual blood,” intends to change all that. In their manifesto, the group of women write, “I stain [my pants], and it doesn’t make me sick. I stain [my pants] and I don’t find it disgusting.”

The implications of Sangre Menstrual’s street performance extend beyond menstruation and into larger debates surrounding reproduction and the female body. Like the feminist artist Barbara Kruger and her legendary print “Your Body Is A Battlefield,” the blood-stained performance aims to present the body as a political act of defiance. The manifesto states, “the visibility of the period [is meant] to increase the visibility of the body, as political space.” Do patriarchal, sexist institutions persist in part because of the repulsion with which we treat menstruation? Is this work of art a groundbreaking innovation or a silly shock tactic? (via BUST)
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Precious Dioramas Built Inside Tiny Sardine Cans

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Packed within the four walls of a tiny 6 by 10 centimeter sardine can, the miniature characters created by sculptor Nathalie Alony for her project Home Sweet Home are both humorous and poignant. Arranged in a massive grid, the artist’s sardine can dioramas serve as a metaphor for the confined apartments in which we nest. These intricate figurines—men, women, children, beloved pets—each exist within the limits of their aluminum enclosure, building complex family and personal universes that seem to operate independently of the outside world. Despite the isolation of each piece, together Alony’s cans form a complex network that wakes and rests as a unified community, separated only by thin, delicate metal.

Like strange dollhouses, these precious sardine can apartments allow us to navigate and to find meaning in the rituals of domestic life. Much of the action portrayed here is banal: the routine laundering of children’s clothes, the checking off of days on a calendar, the painting of walls. When seen in miniature, intricately rendered by the artist’s masterful hands, mundane home improvement tasks become endlessly enthralling. Here, we can be voyeurs in the most innocent sense, entering the intimate confines of the homes of others with tender curiosity.

Alony’s brilliant little worlds capture the lonesomeness of modern living; seeing the fourth aluminum wall pulled back to reveal precious, private lives, we yearn for a similar intimacy in real life. A home, carved out lovingly from a tiny industrial box, contains all the secrets and wonders of families that are not our own. What goes on in the cherished homes of others? (via Junk Culture and Lost at E Minor)
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Someone Made A Living Replica Of Vincent Van Gogh’s Severed Ear

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We all know the story of Vincent van Gogh’s ear, an organ that the artist is rumored to have severed from his own head in a fit of lovesick madness. For her project Sugababe, the artist Diemut Strebe has recreated the living ear of the legendary Post-Impressionist. Teaming up with scientists and using an advanced 3D printing technique, Strebe constructed the true-to-life organ from a sample of the late artist’s DNA found in an envelope that he had licked in 1883 and live cartilage from the ear of Lieuwe van Gogh, a grandson of the painter’s brother. The replicated ear, now on view at The Center for Art and Media in Karlshruhe in Germany, is kept alive by being suspended in a solution laced with nutrients.

Strebe’s installation includes a microphone into which viewers can speak. The sound is then carried to the ear, which hears speech as a crackling noise that is projected through speakers for all to listen. For the artist, Sugababe is a physical manifestation of Theseus’ paradox, wherein the ancient Greek hero was asked if a ship would remain the same if all its individual parts were replaced with new ones. Here, Strebe asks if this clone of an ear might in fact be considered the same ear worn by van Gogh. Tragically unable to respond the viewers who speak to it, the organ seems startlingly alien. Though it is composed of the same elements as the original ear, it lacks the humanity and the romance we ascribe the artist whose molecular biology it shares.

Given the tragic history of the artist, Strebe’s work carries with it a sense of loss and poignancy. Where the living van Gogh was unappreciated— reviled, even—in his time, here even his tiny organ is preserved with the utmost care, his body transformed into a valuable work of art in and of itself. (via Design Boom and The Daily Beast)
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