Alaina Varrone is a embroidery artist who, according to her, was born to a family of weirdos and storytellers. She uses this natural inclination to tell tales using thread which are often explicit and erotic in nature. We see naked men and women, sexual acts, and general kinkiness stitched into cotton fabric. Sometimes, Varrone will use delicate-looking floral patterns that add to the delightful absurdity of her work.
Typically, embroidery is seen as a craft, and an activity that’s a favorite among grandmothers (although it does have a thriving community of younger folks). It’s content is generally seen as inoffensive and family-friendly. Varrone has turned this convention on its head by sewing scenes that that are anything but. Her characters go after their desires and fantasies, creating an amusing juxtaposition between how we’re used to seeing embroidery versus all of its possibilities. (Via Juxtapoz)
Swedish photographer Erik Johansson creates surreal photographs that capture the supernatural in the everyday. Although they’re obviously doctored, his skills make the compositions look as though they’ve really happened. We see a lot of things that take place in open spaces and nature, and Johansson’s subjects are shown literally sewing up a landscape, effortlessly rowing through a green field, and setting the ships in a painting free into the ocean.
Johansson looks at photography as a way to collect material and to realize the ideas in his mind. He looks at every new project as a challenge to make it as realistic as possible, and he often succeeds. It’s part of the fun that goes along with Johansson’s work, because we generally think of photography as a documentation of something that actually happened; seeing wintered ushered in via someone’s bed sheets, for instance, creates a delightful confusion. We know that there’s no way that this picture is possible, but Johansson has crafted it so realistically that for a second we might believe it.
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)
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)
It’s been over 45 years since the iconic Woodstock Festival first took place. In 1969, nearly half a million music lovers made their way to the Catskills for the event that offered peace, love, and rock’n’roll. Thirty-two bands performed at there, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Who. Two LIFE photographers named Bill Eppridge and John Dominis capture not only the music, but of the crowds, muddy fields, and lush woods where young people celebrated their youth.
The epic festival was originally supposed to be a ticketed affair, with booths set up to charge the $24 admission. But, they were never installed thanks to the unexpected surge of music fans, and the surrounding fences were torn down. This act declared that Woodstock was a free event. Over the course of just a few days, these documentary-style photos tell us a lot. They depict the communal living and the aftermath of a five-inch rainfall that turned everything into a giant mud pit. Concert-goers are seen receiving medical care, bathing nude in the streams, and standing as one giant mass with lighters in the air.
John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival recalls a 3:30AM start time (delayed because of rain), and how incredible the experience was:
We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn … there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.
And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: A quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, ‘Don’t worry about it, John. We’re with you.’ I played the rest of the show for that guy.
Maybe you love puns, maybe you hate them. Whatever your stance on them, UK street artist JPS is a fan. They permeate his work as he incorporates the witty phrases into stenciled images of characters in popular culture. We see Batman, Loki, Biggie Smalls, and even Michael Jackson on walls and rocks and are often accompanied by text that’s specific to the character.
JPS’ clever street art is made extra amusing because of how silly some of his puns are. A previously graffitied wall has his addition of “This surface needs a Sheen,” with a portrait of Charlie Sheen next to it. Groan-worthy, yes, but it might’ve made you chortle. And, this is probably part of the point of JPS’ stencils. While funny, they engage the average passerby and infuse some humor into their day and stay subversive at the same time. (Via The Roosevelts)
New York-based artist Brian Dettmer’s sculptural, multi-layered books are so intricate that they require him to use surgeon tools in his process. He carefully carves illustrations and text out of old medical journals, dictionaries, maps books, encyclopedias, and more. Nothing inside of the books is implanted – pieces are only removed. The idea is that these subtractions will reveal new histories and memories now that the story and context has changed. Dettmer sees his work as a collaboration with the existing work’s past creators.
He writes about his creations, which are a comment on the changing landscape of technology. From Dettmer’s artist statement:
The age of information in physical form is waning. As intangible routes thrive with quicker fluidity, material and history are being lost, slipping and eroding into the ether. Newer media swiftly flips forms, unrestricted by the weight of material and the responsibility of history. In the tangible world we are left with a frozen material but in the intangible world we may be left with nothing. History is lost as formats change from physical stability to digital distress.
The richness and depth of the book is universally respected yet often undiscovered as the monopoly of the form and relevance of the information fades over time. The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge. (Via Demilked)
At the Joseph Gross Gallery on September 11, 2014, Brooklyn-based artist Ted Lawson will debut his solo show entitled The Map Is Not The Territory. The new series of work will consist of three dimensional wall-mounted pieces and free-standing sculptures made from MDF wood, brass plate etchings, and large-scale drawings rendered in the artist’s own blood. Yes, blood. The bodily fluid will be fed intravenously to a computer numerical control (CNC) machine using a technology similar to a 3D printer.
The idea behind using blood in conjunction with the computer is to challenge the notion that an artist whose practice utilizes technology is somehow disconnected from their work. Afterall, they aren’t crafting it with their hands; a machine is doing it for them in the form of coding, etc. Here, Lawson will give up part of himself for his work, intimately tying the worlds together and making it hard to argue otherwise. (Via Lost At E Minor)