Alison Moritsugu is an artist based in Beacon, NY, who paints pieces of fallen trees with scenes of idealized nature. Her works recall the landscape paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly those of Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church. Following the contours of the logs, she revisions their origins as trees, painting deep forests, still lakes, mountain waterfalls, and autumnal skies. The log paintings serve a dual function: first, to acknowledge and meditate on the beauty of nature, much like the artists of the Hudson River School did; second, to contrast this romanticism with the signs of its destruction—the dead wood on which the scenes appear.
“My work reveals how idealized images of the land shape our concept of the natural world—in essence, how our experiences are mediated by the mechanisms of art and culture,” Moritsugu writes in her artist’s statement (Source). Throughout history, artists have appropriated and interpreted nature, turning lush imagery into cultural symbols of peace, exploration, sublimity, and abundance. These were the types of stories that fostered an idea that nature was somehow separate from us, a land of fantasy that eventually grew to be exploited. Today, as Moritsugu points out, “photoshopped images of verdant forests and unspoiled beaches invite us to vacation and sightsee, providing a false sense of assurance that the wilderness will always exist” (Source). By producing a conflict between the serene imagery and the dead wood, Moritsugu faces us with our roles in the environment’s uncertain future.
Looking into Rogan Brown’s artwork is like diving into a microcosm of ultra-detailed organisms. The artist creates a myriad of tiny sculptures made out of paper, arranged into one piece which he calls a ‘Magic Circle’.
The sets of paper sculptures are hand and laser-cut. With a scalpel or a knife, Rogan Brown cuts out patterns and motifs inspired from cell structures, tree moss, bacteria, coral, diatoms and radiolaria. The work is laborious and meticulous, taking up to several months for the artist to complete. The choice of paper is deliberate. This mean represents within a same concept, both the fragility and durability of nature. By looking at the infinite details comprised within the final piece, we understand the slow process of growth and decay, life and death which characterizes the cycle of nature.
The artist wishes to mix science and art to metaphorically suggest that a vast range of observations is subconsciously modified by individual imagination. The complexity of nature attracts human curiosity and its need to observe, analyze and classify. A process endeavored by science which is often stopped by too much existing data. Rogan Brown says his “work similarly attempts to frustrate categorization”.
The artist reveals in the profusion of his artistic microorganisms his main belief. Nature can be the source of infinite imagination. (via This Is Colossal)
Brooklyn based artist Russel Cameron creates lifelike sculptures of amputated human body parts. Displayed almost like trophies, Cameron’s on gong series, Flesh and Bone, acts like a collection of the living bizarre. Using classic materials such as clay, paint, wood, and metal, Cameron, a self taught artist, is able to perfectly achieve the goal of many artists: he attains the ability to accurately mimic human flesh. This handiwork allows his work to truly provoke, probe and disturb; each piece acts as a slight ode to the abnormal, forcing the viewer to imagine the the entire creature attached to the individualized parts. The details are what allow the work to feel so real — his minor hints of flesh tonality and careful placement of wrinkles and creases give enough information to perhaps create a full narrative for every piece. His work is influenced by artists specializing in dark and fantastical subject matter such as Zdzislaw Beksinski, the Polish dystopian surrealist painter, Hieronymus Bosch, the Dutch painter known for his detailed absurd landscapes, and H.R. Giger, the Swiss “biomechanical” surrealist painter and special effects artist known for Alien. He also takes inspiration from classicists such as the infamous Spanish romanic painter Francisco Goya. Through his work, Russel Cameron aims to glorify the beauty in what can be often found as grotesque.
Melchor Bocanegra is a digital designer based out of Salamanca, a city located in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. His work is characterized by portraiture mixed with candy-cream absurdity; his subjects are usually set against empty or washed-out backdrops, acting out expressions of play or alarm. He often incorporates surrealist elements, such as thick tears or fluorescent goop smeared across their faces. Despite the innocent colors and fun compositions, Bocanegra’s images grab our attention with their discreetly unsettling aspects; in the following statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, he describes his style and explains how he seeks to convey conflicting emotions:
“I always work with portrait and I really like to mix feelings of isolation and melancholy with colorful and friendly aesthetics. I use simple compositions, trying to focus on the expression and emotion of the character. I could say that I try to create portraits with a passive/aggressive hidden sadness.”
Featured here is his Pink Ladies series, which present us with a cast of pastel-hued characters in various ambivalent and bizarre poses. The underlying themes in these images explore insincerity and idealized femininity, blending sexualized elements with the symptoms of banality; combined with the models’ superficial expressions, the fake tears, exposed breasts, and over-the-top makeup and jewelry convey a sense of exhaustion and meaninglessness. There is also the sense of loss, a grief over something that went missing during the transition into commercialized, sexualized adulthood. As Bocanegra explains, “[these] images create messages or questions about insincerity; with gestures of concern and ambiguity, we discover symbols of the unattainable, a longing for something we do not know or barely remember.”
Tiny humans wearing animal heads. Crystal Morey creates porcelain sculptures to represent her personal connection to nature. The little characters, part of her ‘At the Edge of Time’ new series are full of meaning and power. The artist envisions them as talismans meant to deliver a message and protect their owners.
Each naked human body has its top part covered with an animal head; an eagle, a bear or a deer. The texture of the skin, the eyes, the teeth are intricately depicted. The sculptures are left white, a color associated with fragility and purity. And their height doesn’t exceed a few inches, which emphasizes their dainty and frail look.
Crystal Morey symbolizes nature and the role the environment has on humanity. The humans forced to live with an animal appearance unveil the deep and dark feeling of being trapped. A sentiment the artist is experiencing while watching human kind forcing its destiny on nature.
Questioning this relationship is the purpose of Crystal Morey’s art work. She wishes that the viewer will come across the sculptures and take the initiative to contemplate the world they are living in. And hopefully reconsider their role within this planet or envision new perspectives on how to create a better place for both species. (Via Hi Fructose)
Crystal Morey’s ‘At the Edge of Time’ series will be displayed at the Antler Gallery in Portland until December 31st 2015.
Climate control has been a controversial and momentous topic, well, for at at least two decades, but, the issue of global warming seems to be re-trending in light of the the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. One tactic of addressing the issue’s importance, as we have seen, has been the thousands of activists marching all over the world (and the silent protest in Paris due to recent events). However, a Chinese performance artist who goes by the name “Nut Brother” has decided to take a more quantitative and perhaps informative approach. Beijing, the capital of China (the country that has largest CO2 emissions in the world), is a city of industrial smog. The artist announced a plan to literally vacuum the dust from the Beijing’s air for four hours a day, for 100 days in a row. As a performance, the artist walked the streets, starting in late July, with a pony tail, often a respirator mask, and vacuum with suction nozzle held in his hand to collect debris. On November 30th, the last day of his project, he gathered all 100 days worth of dust and brought it to a brick factory to be mixed with clay and turned into an alarming soot filled brick. Nut Brother is aware that he is not actually changing the air quality, however, he hopes his project will provoke passerby’s to consider their relationship to the environment and their surroundings. (via QUARTZ)
In the age of the internet, we are used to seeing cats, cat videos, and cat-related memes permeating our social media. But delve into the archives of art history and you’ll see that people have always been a little obsessed with cats (it was no secret in ancient Egypt). In a show held at Manhattan’s Japan Society last spring, over 120 artworks—consisting largely of ukiyo-e prints from the Edo period—were exhibited that explored Japan’s own infatuation with their feline companions. Most of the pieces were on loan from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Foundation and the rest were gathered from collections around the US.
The show was divided into five sections: “Cats and People,” “Cats as People,” “Cats versus People,” “Cats Transformed,” and “Cats and Play.” The animals were represented in a variety of ways—sometimes in the cute, domesticated contexts we recognize from the internet, and sometimes in courtly (and even eroticized) scenarios. Many are anthropomorphized to partake in human activities, from argumentative social gatherings to traditional dances. In other prints, they take on a more sinister appearance, conjured as muses for cryptic samurai duals. Coupled with nude or reclining women, cats take on a sensual symbolism.
Pennsylvania based artist Peter Olson has merged the ancient tradition of pottery as narrative and panoramic photography. As a professional photographer who has traveled “the world many times over,” Peter Olson has documented and experienced an extensive array of cultures and environments. Through out his journeys, from “corporate culture to religious iconography, he finds meaning in the repetition of human expression.” Each image is taken from a moment in his life, from his point of view. His pottery series, titled Photo Ceramica, refers to each piece as an “urn.” Defining the pieces as such almost allows every individualized work to act as a ceremonial ending to a specific point in time. The urns are, perhaps, a way for the artist to collect and put to rest certain times in his life. His work is created by transferring images onto the ceramic by encasing them in ink left over from his photographic prints. When the urns are then fired, the ink burns away, leaving an image from the iron oxide in which the ink is created from. The aesthetic is formed through a sort of collage, depicting personalized narratives and motifs. For example, his work “New York City Urn No. 8” is a panoramic view of the city, starting with the the iconic city street lamps, followed by a amalgamation of classic New York City imagery such as the city sky line from various points of reference along with more personalized moments including a portrait of women standing in front of graffiti. Peter Olson has created a delicate, shrine like body of work that allows him to document his own life by intimate and clever means. (via Hi Frustose)