In collaboration with the Vatican, a coalition of artists and humanitarians from the documentary Racing Extinction projected a stunning light show on the edifice of St. Peter’s Basilica. The videos display endangered animals and ecological crises from around the word, including whales, pandas, imperilled rainforests, and melting icebergs. As pointed out on My Modern Met, this demonstration follows a letter released from Pope Francis that makes clear the role humans play in the destruction of natural environments and non-human species. The goal of the light show was to foster awareness from the public, and on a political level, to encourage other influential figures and world leaders to acknowledge the loss and devastation.
Helmed by Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos (director of The Cove), Racing Extinction features never-before-seen images that explore endangered species and the threat of mass extinction. Much like the light show—which is part of an ongoing (and vital) campaign to provoke action—Racing Extinction seeks to change the way we view the planet and the global beauty and vitality we will lose in the pursuit of our unsustainable practices. Such projects remind us that no matter where we are situated, even in our urban, human-centered habitats, we are always responsible and capable of changing the world’s grim outlook. (Via My Modern Met)
Los Angeles based artist Michelle Kingdom creates intimate embroidered keepsakes. Working on a small scale, Kingdom is able to achieve a compact level of detail, allowing the work to fully invite the viewer into their tiny, unique worlds. Through stitching each piece with a high volume of thread, she achieves a specific density which she calls “compressed compositions.” Every embroidered work is inspired by a specific moment in time. Whether they are her own memories, emotional portraits that are personal or exploratory, literary scenes, or historical references, Kingdom’s work is formulated through building intense moments that are of intellectual importance. She refers to her work as “psychological landscapes,” in which her aim is to “illuminat[e] thoughts left unspoken…creat[ing] tiny worlds in thread to capture elusive yet persistent inner voices.” She explains further that “symbolism and allegory law bare dynamics of aspiration and limitation, expectation and loss, belonging and alienation, truth and illusion.” While her work is doubly contemporary and fun, she does note that her work does pay homage to the tradition of needlework. The delicate nature of the material and the intensive and intimate process of creation allows each piece to fully possess an aura of both elegance and fragility, mimicking the sort of nature of frail and strenuous emotional conditions. She states; “beauty parallels melancholy, as conventional stitches acquiesce to the fragile and expressive.”
Darryl Cox is an artist living in Bend, Oregon, who grafts tree limbs onto vintage frames. Each “Fusion Frame,” as he calls them, involves a combination of woodworking, painting, and sculpting to ensure the branch “sprouts” seamlessly from the man-made object. After locating a unique frame, Cox then searches the forest for the complementary limb. Each art piece is unique and expressive, giving the static object a sense of organic vitality. The branch warps the frame and twists the molding in its own dramatic way, seeming to overtake the rigid boundaries and thus demonstrating the power and patience of nature.
Cox seeks to create art that is humble, distinctive, and intricate. Originality is key, which means bypassing ingrained artistic customs and modes of thought. He discusses this further in his artist’s statement:
“As much as I embrace convention in art, and I certainly do, my Fusion Frame art fulfills the part of me that says ‘no’ to convention. That it is not only okay to be avant-garde, it is right. I like to embrace alternatives to an accepted order in art. To even, at times, completely ignore conventions when fashioning a piece and enjoy the unbounded ability to create by refusing to be limited by precept, artistically speaking.” (Source)
Some of the Fusion Frames are tailored with sentimental objects, lending them even more unique emotional value. You can learn more about Cox’s work on his website and Facebook, and he has works available for purchase on his Etsy. (Via Colossal)
Artist Christina Córdova sculpts beautiful and enchanting ceramic figures. The artist, now living in Penland, North Carolina, grew up in Puerto Rico where she was raised heavily embedded in Catholic imagery. The classic posses and the notion of reference and body positioning as story telling has deeply made an impact on her work — the figures within her art hold poses that can be found in both theological and mythological images. Each piece has an almost magical realist feel: while her pieces can be traditional in execution, they always feature an element of surprise and surrealism. Through blending moments of texture with perfectly sculpted human forms and strange depictions of wild animals, her works somehow achieves the ability to be screaming a secret — to be demand attention yet offering no specific answers, only curiosity and inquisition. Each work has a story. Each figure has a history. Her use of a classic material, ceramic, truly allows her work to exist within a plane of antique elegance. However, through her use of pattern and color, Córdova’s work is contemporary and fun, yet undoubtedly sophisticated. She tends to use found materials such as metals and wood from her homeland, Puerto Rico. Because of these materials, her ceramic finishes mimic a sort of rawness that truly gives her sculptures their “relic” like quality. Córdova’s sculptures are absolutely stunning and genuinely radiate a aura of mysticism and truth. (via juxtapoz)
Last week, we shared the work of Lauren Everett and her Rocky Horror portraiture project. This week, we’re proud to feature Devotion, a series of photographs exploring the inner worlds of Los Angeles’ alternative religion communities—specifically, those surrounding Santa Muerte. With a keen eye for detail, Everett provides a unique glimpse into private ceremonies, such as cleansing rituals and spiritual masses such as Misa Blanca. Also shown are candle-lit altars, where Santa Meurte herself can be seen, represented as a hooded skeletal figure brandishing a scythe in one hand, the world in the other.
Translating as “Holy Death,” the origins of Santa Muerte are unknown, but (as Everett states) she is believed to be a “syncretism of The Virgin Mary and the Mesoamerican goddess Mictecacihuatl” (Source). To her believers, she represents healing, peaceful death, and a safe transition into eternity. Worship mainly occurs privately in homes, where people construct shrines and host ceremonies. As Everett’s photos reveal, devotees also gather at temples to receive group blessings and share stories of healing.
Everett expertly and compassionately explores a community that is not clearly represented (or perhaps even understood) by a more general audience. The imagery absorbs the imagination, but even more compelling are the portraits of the individual devotees engaging in private practices; take Sysiphus, for example, who stands with his wife in blue robes in their temple on Melrose Avenue. Also featured is Orisaneke, a woman who can be seen preparing carnation bouquets for Misa Blanca. These intimate shots invoke the immersive history and tradition of Santa Meurte, as well as the value and beautiful diversity of alternative spiritual practices.
Detective Jason Harvey, a forensic sketch artist who has worked for the NYPD for over 10 years, draws fun and flamboyant portraits using the same techniques as he employs in his police work. His drawings might be recognizable to some New Yorkers, as it they are featured on “wanted” posters hung all around the city. However, Harvey has been given the opportunity for his work to be seen in a new light. Adam Shopkorn, owner of Fort Gansevoort Gallery, noticed Harvey’s work on the NYCAlerts Twitter and wanted to put it on display, allowing Harvey to jump from detective to artist. The NYPD wouldn’t consent to showing the actual sketches (as they are criminal evidence), so instead, Harvey has created a series he calls Fantasy Composites. Within this body of work, Harvey uses the same renderings and facial feature creation process as he would sketching up potential criminals, yet this time he is depicting imagined faces. Harvey explains the difference between this body of work compared to his detective sketches; he states, “when I’m interviewing an eyewitness and drawing from their memory, I have to strictly adhere to what they’re telling me about the person’s face.” He notes that the forensic work is “not creative at all.” Nonetheless, his imagined series is full of creativity and exuberance. Each work truly has it’s own character — there is a real sense that Harvey has seen it all. Nothing is too obscure or obscene, every portrait seems absolutely genuine, if not almost recognizable. The caricature quality adds a playful element to his work, allowing them to exist between the realms of cartoon and reality, between satire and actuality. (via booooooom)
Cuba’s 3,570 mile coastline, nestled in the Caribbean Ocean has seen everything from glamorous vacation resorts to the horrors of revolution. But as Cuban artist, Yoan Capote shows us in his Isla (Island) series, the heart of Cuba is her relationship to the water.
Capote’s collection of canvases illustrate the beauty and turbulence of the sea. He says,
“the sea is an obsession for any island country .. it represents the seductiveness of dreams but at the same time danger and isolation.”
In the Isla series, Capote captures that feeling by utilizing fishhooks to create texture and density on his large canvases. At first glance, the works seem to be made of heavy oil but upon closer inspection you see that each wave in his ocean scape is an individual fishhook that has been painstakingly painted and nailed into place by Capote and his team. Layer after layer of fishhooks creates a physically dangerous work. If you aren’t careful, it could stab you. Capote says, “I wanted to use thousands of fishhooks to create a surface that would be almost tangible to the viewer upon their approach.” Accomplished.
The result of this intense work is not only the undulating motion of the sea, but it is a comment on Cuba’s situation, more generally. The fishhooks are a symbol of Cuba’s fishing trade and they illustrate its perilous borders but through this work Capote is also able to point to economic issues, emigration, and political isolation thus evoking a shared sense of uncertainty about the future of the country.
Juana Gomez is a Chilean artist who embroiders the central nervous system over faded photographs of the human body. The images arrive from Gomez’s dreams, as well as her lifelong fascination for archaeology and artifacts. After printing her photos on fabric, she goes in with a needle and thread and stitches veins, musculature, and neural pathways that flow together in a harmonious network. Her work is somewhat reminiscent of anatomy studies from the Italian Renaissance, exploring an ages-old fascination for the human body.
Gomez’s works are scientific in form and ritualistic in creation, melding together the organic and inorganic world with accuracy and a flowing reverence. By translating images of the body into thread and ghostly outlines, she reveals the complexity and beauty of our anatomy; the interconnected lines and patterns she sews can be seen in river tributaries, tree branches, streets, and even Internet traffic. She calls these similar systems a “common language” that connects the biological, social, and cultural realms, as well as the internal world with the external (Source). The result is a spiritual exploration of the body that connects our corporeal selves with the systems that exist within and beyond its boundaries.