Artist Yoon Ji Seon crafts her collection of self-portraits by intricately stitching photographs with a sewing machine. It’s an ongoing series titled Rag Face, and her facial expressions change with every piece. While they appear to us as similar-looking individuals, Seon changes it up with different colors and hairstyles. Despite these idiosyncrasies, each portrait has the same features. Most notably, these are hanging threads that mimic hair or tattered rags. The multiple layers of colors and stitches give these works a painterly effect, as if they are gestural and loosely handled; Seon obscures her images by working with her materials in this way.
In 2015, the artist will have a show at the Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City. They describe the her underlying concepts:
By sewing the photograph, a second image is generated on the back that is both a reflection of the front and a completely new image. The two images, combined with the original photograph as a third representation, recall the Buddhist theory that an object exists in many forms and there is no true form. Yoon Ji Seon’s work addresses Buddhist ideology deeply rooted in contemporary Korean society and confronts issues such as plastic surgery and suppression of speech. (Via My Amp Goes to 11)
San Francisco-based artist Lizabeth Eva Rossoff has created a mashup of iconic statues and and characters in contemporary popular culture. By physically combining China’s ancient Terracotta Army with the heads of Bart Simpson, Batman, and Mickey Mouse, they fuse Eastern and Western culture. Rossoff class her series Xi’an American Warriors.
The artist explains that her work, “playfully explores the concerns of American media’s global influence and China’s industry of counterfeiting the copyrighted properties held by said media.” In essence, these sculptures represent a cycle.
Each stately clay piece stands 18 inches tall, and their appearance was created by using the same process that built the original third century BCE warriors from Lintong District, Xi’an Shaanxi province. She even worked with a Terracotta Warrior replica studio in Xi’an who make their clay sculptures using the same ground that was used so long ago. And, for a limited time, these artworks are available to buy on her website. (Via Endless Geyser of Awesome)
Peter Pincus is a New York-based ceramic artist whose relatively simple forms are punctuated by blocks of color. The clean and modern pots, urns, and cups are mostly gray with accents of blue, yellow, salmon, and more that are laid side by side in thin strips. Occasionally, gold lines the edges.
The forms are very structured, as are their designs. Colors are evenly portioned and thin lines, contrasting-colored divide gray sections of the ceramics. If we were to remove the surface designs from the clay, they could stand alone as abstract paintings. And, that’s partially the point of Pincus’ work. He writes in an artist statement:
I produce three-dimensional paintings out of pots. The studio challenge is to determine a way to create containers that belong not only on the dinner table, but also elsewhere in the home. Many of my pots are status symbols saved for special occasions, generally deemed distinct because of the value of what they hold rather than for what they are. But to me, in between such occasions, they become canvases that visually illustrate the defining spirit of the times, despite their being utilitarian and made of clay, not canvas. They still need to do their job; to be genuine, they must be functional as well as opulent. But they can be so much more.
It sounds cliche, but scars really do tell stories. They speak of things like accidents, turbulent periods in our lives, and the road to recovery. Sometimes scars have funny origin stories and other times tragic ones. Photographer Sandra Franco explores these permanent body marks in her aptly-titled series, Scars. The quiet, intimate images feature people with these blemishes on their bodies, which are now apart of their physical personal history. Some are more noticeable than others, and on backs, arms, and even the neck. Franco explains Scars, writing:
Memory can be fragile and people find particular ways of holding on to it. Due to their strong evocative power, there is an evident connection between photographs and memories which I find fascinating. In this sense I observe a few parallelisms between scars and photography.
They share not only an aesthetic value, both being affected by the idea of “beauty”, but also an organic quality. Film ages and changes its properties in a similar way our body does, more visible through the marks, wrinkles and eventual scars left in our skin with the passing of time.
Thus, while taking a picture of a particular moment in time, light “scars” the negative, which once developed becomes a reminder of the past event. Some dramatic experiences, positive or negative, leave a physical trace on our bodies made visible through scars.
For me, scars are able to bring experiences from the past to the present moment,acting like “prints of memory”, just like photographs do.
The ink drawings of Anton Vill are exquisite and small – about the size of your average fork. Vill is highly skilled in wielding a pen, and he makes tiny marks so fine that they appear as a pencil drawing or even as an engraving from the 17th century. But, looking closely at the subject matter, you discover that they are wholly contemporary, like something out of a nightmare.
We see babies piled in a shopping cart, a grotesque separation of someone’s head, and countless people that are wrapped up in the long hair of a Cousin It-type character. Vill’s work is quietly visceral and bizarre, and it doesn’t immediately strike you as strange; this creates a greater impact when you study his drawings. The longer that you look, the more you’ll discover and get a glimpse into the artist’s imagination. (Via Faith is Torment)
Korean artist Choi Xooang creates sculptures that you’d see in your nightmares. The grotesque artworks are made out of resin and shocking in the brutal ways that they manipulate the human body. Severed limbs, skin corsets, and people-made backpacks are all featured in these pale, hyperreal mutant characters. Although they feature exquisite craftsmanship (the life-like details are stunning), it’s hard to get away from subject matter.
His existentialist creatures, in the torments of their flesh and their contradictions, become our double dumb and clueless. The artist says that emotions are the only things given to a man or woman apart from their social status in the functioning of a capitalist society. Choi Xooang not only gives us his own feelings but attempts to retrieve a collective soul, a chart of all the sufferings and joys experienced by everyone.
We see these types of feelings represented; while there is pain, there is also sensuality between the characters, and even some eroticism shown throughout the strange hybrid people. With this, Choi communicates that pain and pleasure can walk a thin line. (Via Hi Fructose)
Chris Burkard is a photographer based in Central Coast, California. He captures lifestyle and action sports, and some of his most compelling works are these pictures of people surfing among the snow-covered mountains in places liked Iceland, Norway, and Alaska. There’s a cognitive dissonance that comes from viewing these photos – surfing is typically a warm-weather sport that doesn’t seem like it’d mix with the cold temperatures. But here, Burkard’s subjects are traipsing among glaciers and a white landscape in their head-to-toe wet suits.
Despite the initial reaction of “buuuurrrrr,” there’s a palpable bliss in Burkard’s idyllic photos. The natural beauty is undeniable no matter the temperature. Skies are clear, the water is blue, and it’s all made even brighter with the peppered throughout. Burkard purposely searches for wild, remote destinations, and, according to him, “portrays the humble placement of the human in contrast to nature.”
In San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood sits Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, a small, windowless locale that’s the only remaining gay bar in an area once known for its nightlife LGBTQ attractions. It features an evening-length drag queen show, which is the subject of photographer James Hosking’s intriguing images.
Hosking first visited Aunt Charlie’s in 2009 after moving to the city from New York, and he was drawn to the older entertainers there. What was their connection to drag when it was “illicit and less accessible,” and why do these people continue to perform? “They open themselves to ridicule because of their age, yet they seem to relish the opportunity for provocation and confrontation,” the photographer told Slate.
Hosking’s curiosity played out by photographing three performers at Aunt Charlie’s during 2013 – Collette LeGrande, Donna Personna, and Olivia Hart. He also teamed up with journalist Jeremy Lybarger for a story published in Out Magazine, and completed a documentary about the drag queens titled Beautiful by Night.
It’s in these gritty candid photos and film that we see just how laborious performing is. Putting on makeup, wigs, and costumes can take time a lot of stamina that only gets harder with age. And with all that effort, audience members can sometimes be disrespectful, Hosking tells Slate, “But, for the most part, I think the joy comes from the audience’s excitement and pleasure, which creates a feeling that everyone is there to have a good time together. I imagine that makes all the bullshit worthwhile. The tips don’t hurt either.”
Check out the documentary to hear the drag queens talk about their experience and to see the transformation process take place.