Marsha Pels poetically recontextualizes found objects of power and politics. Cohesion in her works is achieved though this particular modus operandi, though not necessarily in subject matter. Her gutsy recent exhibit at Schroeder Romero, “Dead Mother, Dead Cowboy,” made a connection between the recent death of her mother and abandonment by her partner. Artworks within this exhibition included a fluorescent lit, crystal-clear casting of Pels’ mother draped in mink stoles, her ex-lover on a deconstructed motorcycle, and castings of her own hands made in her mother’s gloves. For lack of a better word, this personal and haunting expose on desire, loss and morning is brave—laying bare an honest, and witty personal narrative. Recently Marsha discussed her creative inspiration, and her in-depth thought process behind her recent sculptural series.
Like how a lot of things “aren’t they way they used to be” these days, rave culture and visual cues that go along with it, aren’t the way they used to be (there’s a flyer from a more recent event after the jump). A one sentence summary of rave history: In the late 1980s, the word ‘rave’ was adopted to describe the subculture that grew out of the acid house movement. Activities were related to the party atmosphere of Ibiza, a Mediterranean island frequented by British and German youth on vacation.
What I think is awesome is that there are so many varieties of design approaches in these flyers- heavily illustrated, minimal typography, photographical. You can’t even tell that all these served the same purpose, whereas rave flyers today basically all look the same and probably use the same 10 steps in a Photoshop actions bundle (any readers have one?).Because they are minimal, they would have translated well to posters, banners, or even tees. I think the watering down of this scene could be comparable to the punk scene- degraded and chessified in both sound and visual design. I don’t know, this topic is definitely open to discussion- feel free to comment!
Sam Falconer is a freelance illustrator based in the UK, whose portraits of famous figures such as Jack Nicholson and Bette Davis mix textures, patterns and colours in a playful manner. Many of the collage renderings evoke the work of John Baldessari in a quirky play on pop imagery. More after the jump.
In 2004, artist Kim Alsbrooks began painting regal portraits on discarded cans in a series titled My White Trash Family. The work, which features both male and female subjects dressed in elaborate wigs, stately ascots, and enormous hats, is a juxtaposition of literal trash and fine portraiture. It was as initially inspired by Alsbrooks’ friend, a women’s history professor, who pointed out the historical biases that are present in art. In response, Alsbrooks’ tiny paintings mimic those that you’d find in museum collections. The fact that these exquisite works are produced on trash rather than quality materials is both ironic and amusing.
My White Trash Family is prolific; Alsbrooks has produced over 600 paintings since it started. All beverage cans are pre-flattened, mostly by passing cars or trucks. She describes her technique, writing, “One cannot flatten the trash. It just doesn’t work. It must be found so that there are no wrinkles in the middle and the graphic should be well centered. Then the portraits are found that are complimentary to the particular trash. Generally I depict miniature portraits from the watercolor on ivory era (17th-18th century more or less). The trash is gessoed in the oval shape, image drawn in graphite, painted in oils and varnished.”
Part of the success of this series is found in the dedication to craft, and the fact that she paints miniature portraits really well. But, what ultimately makes these works appealing is not necessarily tangible. The reference to high society and its traditional paths challenged by cheap, “lower class” items is instantly recognizable and relatable at a time when the one percenters rule the world. (Via Booooooom!)
Honk Kong-based artist Johnson Tsang creates alternative ceramic creations that spook viewers. Employing a realist yet surreal sculptural technique, Tsang looks to produce exaggerated, almost cartoonish, bizarre human forms that look very convincing (and very disturbing). Besides his famous creepy, chubby, porcelain babies–whom he calls his own ‘children’–Tsang is known for his ability to morph both functional objects and the human body to put forth an alternative line of work that challenges the craft oriented world of ceramics. Much like Beccy Ridsdel Dissected Ceramics, Tsang has the ability to make ceramic pieces that in a way remain functional, but still work as a conceptual piece of art.
Photographer Nina Röder creates Mutter Schuhe (Mother’s Shoes), a series that through a variety of portraits visually explores the evolution of three generations of women: her (Nina Röder), her mother, and her mother’s mother. All three women are wearing Röder’s grandmothers clothes and they are sitting around in the old rooms of her (Röder’s) mother’s childhood home. All women maintain more or less the same expression, one of nostalgia for the most past, as they reenact mundane activities throughout the home. Through her choices of clothes and props, the artist is looking to explore how different individuals, her family, recall the past and how it evolves as time wears on.
“The personal narrative of my mother and my grandmother effects my life in a very dominant way: Almost every artwork I’ve done so far is influenced by conscious or unconscious aspects of family stories. For example, my grandparents were expelled from Bohemia (now Czechia) after the Second World War so they lost everything they had. I guess that is the reason why my grandmother now is keeping all her old clothes or furniture from the last 40 years. Almost all my ‘models’ are wearing clothes from my grandmother.”
For her wildly imaginative series Foot Fetish, the artist Gwen Murphy creates shoes with carefully rendered faces. Her sculptures range from the humorous to the frightful, from high end footwear to more casual designs. Murphy’s lifelike characters blend seamlessly into the shoes they inhabit, recontextualizing well-worn Converse One Stars, pumps, and ballet flats. Here, footwear ceases to be a passive participant in our daily lives, waiting patiently for our feet; instead, shoes become fantastical creatures with lives of their own.
Murphy’s uncanny creations draw from pop culture and folklore alike. “Planet of the Sneakers,” is a clever yet earnest adaptation of the 1968 film “Planet of the Apes.” Celebrity fortune teller phenomenon Madame Zora makes an appearance in a pair of glittery pink kitten heels, and one-eyed Waldgeist, Germanic forest spirits, nestle amiably in a pair slippers. “Guardians of the Basilisk” places a pair of austere women in faux snake skin pumps; unlike the victims of the serpentine creature, who can kill simply by meeting a mortal’s gaze, they stare upwards, their eyes unfazed. “Judith,” a piece made from a pair of T-strap pumps, might be imagined as the biblical heroine; like the Jewish woman who slayed Holofernes, she is shown both as resolute (left shoe) and as gravely apprehensive, her eyes darting back and forth (right shoe).
With Foot Fetish, Murphy elegantly inverts our expectations, placing the face and head where the feet should be. Her shoes, no longer able to serve the purpose for which they were designed, take on new life. In this off-beat, upside-down realm, are delightful moments where the magical and practical collide. (via Agonistica)