Mike Leavitt is already known for his playfully subversive figures that feature and poke fun at other artists, celebrities, and world leaders. In his newest series, Empire Peaks, Leavitt combines famous leaders and innovators with characters from Star Wars. Comprised of 18 figures sculpted out of wood, and each corresponds to one character from the movie franchise. Albert Einstein’s infamous expression is sculpted into R2-D2, while Steve Jobs is his counterpart C-3PO. Michael Jackson plays the part of the adorable Ewoks. US President Barack Obama is Lando Calrissian.
Inspiration for Empire Peaks came from Leavitt’s experience growing up as a Gen-X’r raised by Baby Boomers. With both his parents working, he had to entertain himself, relying on the cheap thrills of television and plastic toys. Describing the series, he writes:
For better or worse, each ‘Empire Peaks’ non-fictional character is complicit in the world order today. We’re all shackled to our past because of endlessly echoing paradigms. David Sirota argues in ‘Back to Our Future’ for a cyclical 30-year regurgitation of politics and culture. I think it’s an inescapable human nature causing regimes to repeat themselves. ‘Empire Peaks’ are meant to reduce modern dynasties to a sci-fi soap opera of objects.
It’s all about gluttony. Serving desires lubricates civilization. Capitalism fills desire and demand. Development expands. Culture thrives. From religious redemption to material objects, mass coveting is the driving force. (Via ARTNAU)
Like most people, when I was a kid I loved playing with a kaleidoscope. Pointing it at different light sources and twisting the chamber caused a morphing geometric mandala to take shape before my eyes, magically shifting sunshine and the colored bits inside into a series of hypnotizing designs. The same part of me that was enamored with a kaleidoscope is the same part of me that loves juicy colored highly geometric contemporary art.
As the highly influential artist and color theorist of the Bauhaus, Josef Albers, says so succinctly in his classic book Interaction of Color, “As with tones in music, so with color- dissonance is as desirable as its opposite, consonance.” The dance of tension and fluidity in an ever changing kaleidoscopic pattern is a rhythm of light and hue, which there is an abundance of in contemporary art. There are so many artists out there these days who use these components in their visual art, however the five artists included here emerge with unique strength, vision and technical ability that is worth noting. Artists include: Dalek (James Marshall), Maya Hayuk, Richard Colman, Amanda Airs and Jeff Depner
Chinese artist Lu Xinjian has been inspired by maps and cities for years, often collected in his increasingly large-scale acrylic on canvas series City DNA. But his newest work City Light expands on these inspirations, taking the flat abstractions and mounting them onto the wall with neon.
Using Google Earth images of the artist’s current home, the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai, Xinjian renders the map loosely in his abstract style. The resulting plans are rendered in neon on a solid black background, and run on a flash program which controls the timing of each area’s lines being illuminated. Starting with a small, centrally-located blue square, the rest of the surrounding area follows, until the entire piece is lit. Representing the rapid growth of the modern metropolis, the network of neon light tubes takes the language of city communication and visually abstracts the idea of rapid expansion. (via alwaysinstudio and designboom)
Men and women, young and old, you name it…everyone is included in Jedediah Johnson‘s unorthodox photography series: The Make-Out Project.
It all started in 2012, when Indiana native Jedediah moved to Chicago in order to complete an MFA at the Art Institute. During his graduate school years he developed The Make-Out project, a photographic series featuring the moment after making out.
For each image, Johnson puts his hands around the subject’s neck and then proceeds to the kiss (notice the trail of red lipstick), after the kiss he instantly snaps the subject’s reaction and condition.
The kisses vary in length and intimacy. My subjects are all aware of what I’m going to do ahead of time, but in the moment of the kiss anything can happen. The lipstick mark I leave on my subjects invites viewers to imagine the circumstances surrounding the kiss.”
The project revolves around the idea of collecting memories. Johnson is interested in cataloging and collecting people, specifically, keeping record of experiences. Johnson’s project is not just about kissing random people, rather, it is an interesting series of images that let is on very intimate situations. Can you tell what each of these subjects were feeling like after the kiss happened?
I guess we’ll never truly know, but it is this kind of cataloguing that gives us a chance to figure it out. (via Huff Post)
Artist Andrew Scott Ross is interested in the ancient past, and uses it to better understand the present. Curious about the way museums present items from the past, Ross creates paper-dioramas, drawings and sculptures to display his own versions and representations of history.
In his 2013 work Tilden and the Theban Hero, for instance, Ross used photographic reproductions of Greek and Roman art from the Michael C. Carlos Museum near Emory University’s campus as a point of departure. He then cut by hand several elements and combined them to create an imaginative, large-scale installation. The piece employs Greek mythology as well as elements of Ross’s personal history. Informative, fun and engaging, Ross’ installations almost come to life before a viewer’s eyes.
See his work later this summer at the Winter Gallery at Millersville University in PA.
Cambodian-based artist Anida Yoeu Ali conceptualized The Buddhist Bug Project, which sprouted from her fascination of other religions. She was raised in the Muslim faith but is drawn towards the Buddhist religion. Her project attempts to reconcile these two interests. Ali explains:
The Buddhist Bug Project seeks to map a new spiritual and social landscape through its surreal existence amongst ordinary people and everyday environments. The Buddhist Bug (BBug) is a fantastic saffron-colored creature that can span the length of a 30-metre bridge or coil into a small orange ball. Rooted in an autobiographical exploration of identity, the Bug comes from the artist’s own spiritual turmoil between Islam and Buddhism. Set amongst everyday people in ordinary moments, the Bug provokes obvious questions of belonging and displacement.
The Bug’s colorful exterior references robes worn by the Buddhist Monks, while the style of its head piece is modeled after the Islamic Hijab. The travelling project has made its way to Cambodia, where Ali and photographer Masahiro Sugano stage site-specific performances. We see the Bug wrapped around tables, in a boat, up a flight of stairs, and more. Its presence allows for others to interact with it and take part in the project, which is part of Ali’s intent. “…meters and meters of textile act as skin, as a way for the surface of my body to extend into public spaces, and as a metaphoric device for stories to spread across an expanse.” She says. “For me, performance and storytelling become ways of bridging the interior and exterior space of self as well as initiate critical dialogues between communities and institutions. (Via design boom and The Philanthropic Museum)
Greek artist Teodosio Sectio Aurea builds amazingly detailed sculptures that cast unassuming shadows. Aurea constructs his work out of metal and wire, bending and shaping them until they are able to cast the perfect shadow. The shadow images he casts range from human figures to recognizable art like da Vinci’s “The Vitruvian Man,” Picasso’s “Guernica,” and Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.” Aurea’s talent lies in his ability to play with light and shadow, to and conceive of a multi-dimensional artwork. The metal sculptures stand alone as captivating artwork, and Aurea’s conception demonstrates multi-faceted beauty that resides within a single object. (via my modern met)
“Godfather of Neon” Chris Bracey is the artist and collector behind London’s God’s Own Junkyard, the world’s largest collection of neon signs, art work, light sculptures, and other reworked, salvaged props. Bracey’s signs and props have appeared in many Hollywood films such as “Blade Runner,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Eyes Wide Shut,” to name a very few. After filming’s done on a movie, the signs and props get tossed out, but 25 years ago, Bracey decided to start collecting and storing many of his more iconic creations. In this short film, Bracey explains that his experience of neon is like visual cocaine, an experience of visual addiction. He also claims that he was the first person to create the iconic and oft-used “Girls Girls Girls” sign seen at adult establishments, both in real life and in films.
After he began collecting his discarded film commissions, Bracey says he decided that he should name the collection. “I had this yard with all the stuff in it, and I’ve got loads of sheds with neon signs in, piled up. And I thought, what am I going to call it? And then I read about this book that was about an architect in the 60s who didn’t like urban America because of all the movie signs, petrol stations, gambling casinos, diners on Route 66, and big signs all over the landscape. He said ‘they’re turning God’s own country into God’s own junkyard!’ And I thought, yeah, that’s what I’ve got here. I’ve got all this stuff from God’s own junkyard which is very much like America, with all these signs. I love this stuff so much, I thought if God had a junkyard it would be full up with all this stuff, these neon signs, because I think God would really like all this stuff. It’s really magical to me.” (via unknown editors)