Akira Beard, a San Francisco based artist and teacher at the Academy of Art University, is well known for his engaging watercolor portraitures of pop culture icons. The messages that usually accompany these illustrations are often centered around the issues of cultural topics, such as, identity, society, and race.
Human Empire is a multidisciplinary design collective that creates playful and iconic works. Beautiful/Decay recently interviewed them about how their collective was started, their influences, and recent projects.
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Multihued translucent Plexiglas rectangles hang from the ceiling in Brad Troemel’s latest installation LIVE/WORK. They’re pleasingly abstract, reminiscent of sunsets and seashores, but look closer: each is a self-contained ant universe. The gel is edible for the ants, a commercial variant of NASA’s soil replacement, and as they tunnel and work they create patterns and movement in the art.
“Each team of ants is working on behalf of three not-for-profit organizations. The striped colors of the homes represent the colors of the not-for-profits’ logos. These organizations range from the Earth Liberation Front to Edward Snowden’s Legal Defense Fund to Planned Parenthood. At the end of this exhibition, each home’s piled up refuse from tunneling is weighed as a proxy for which team of ants did the most work digging. Whichever team’s displaced gel weighs the most wins the prize for their three organizations, splitting 10% of the proceeds from this exhibition three ways.”
The press release for the show is concerned mostly with the ants. “One must wonder – when will ant labor evolve to incorporate collaborative just-in-time tunnel building strategies, or even Fordist production lines?” It asks. “Are disruptive innovations even possible species-wide if made within isolated habitats? These are just some of the questions this generation of ants faces.” The questions are somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but they raise other issues. If Troemel is relying on the ants to produce constantly changing works of art, what happens to his installation if they stop working? What if they die? The three large blank checks hang on the wall opposite the ants, underlining the financial impetus of the show. Living insects+art=profit. It’s an unusual equation, but a surprisingly lovely one. (Via Lost at E Minor)
Artist Mark Dean Veca opened his new solo exhibit Made For You and Me at Cristin Tierney January 31st and is on view through March 9th. The title of the exhibit is a lyric from the Woodie Guthrie song This Land is Your Land. The song, originally expressing an anti-capitalist sensibility, has since often been appropriated to convey capitalist sentiments such as growth through consumption. Interestingly, Veca’s work often reverses this same process. He re-appropriates corporate images to comment on corruption, consumption, and a generally waning culture. Appropriately the gallery statement calls his work a kind of “Sinister Pop”. This is particularly evident in his piece titled Tailspin. The piece depicts the Exxon-Mobil Pegasus pointing down, blue on one side, red on the other, and spinning. Tailspin subtly references a society’s consumption dependent on energy resources that are exceedingly spinning out of control.
Artist Jeremy Geddes paints with considerable skill. His highly detailed oil paintings depict surreal, often lonely scenes. Many of his panels picture a lone astronaut in an empty urban landscape. Its unclear whether his subjects are falling or floating, in trouble or asleep. Geddes communicates the haunting silence of each scene as effectively as textures and light. He clearly has an ease of technique and personal aesthetic.