Magical mystical fractals! Sometimes you get hit with the geometric abstraction stick, and sometimes you don’t, and it’s plain to see that Michael Knutson got hit over the head with it. Knutson has also been a professor of art at Reed College in Oregon for the last 30 years, so go ahead and assume that he knows a thing or two about his craft. More at Blackfish Gallery and Greg Kucera Gallery.
Berta Fischer is a Berlin-based artist. Her sculptures and installations feel as though they’re sophisticated set decorations for a play that takes place under the sea. Her colorful sculptures interact with their surrounding architecture, transforming a space into an otherworldly local.
Despite the use of materials that are mainly synthetic, such as PVC and acrylic glass, Fischer’s works maintain an organic quality. This dialogue between the natural and the artificial generates an appearance that has a fragility and a tension to it. Drawing a viewer’s attention the effects seem to be alive or moving.
Mitra Fabian lives and works in Los Angeles. Like Fischer, she is also interested in transforming atypical materials into organic, unearthly shapes and forms that seem to come to life as you look at them. Interested in mimicking the appearance of tumors, magnified cells or mold Fabian strives for an effect that plays tricks on the eye. Fabian explains, “My artwork is a reflection of local human industry. I am a sculptor and installation artist working almost exclusively with manufactured materials- the leftovers, the by products, the remnants of human activity. My material use serves as a commentary on the increasingly modified condition of humans, which pits nature against culture and blurs the line between organic and manufactured.”
Both of these artists are interested in transforming the manmade into something that appears to be organic. The effects allow a viewer to reflect upon our increasingly artificial surroundings and to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of our natural environment.
Lauren DiCioccio uses a simple needle and thread on cotton muslin to mummify and honor an endangered artifact– the printed newspaper. In each piece, as The New York Times’ text fades, its correlating cover portraits puncture the surface with pockets of strung together color, reminding us of a certain tactile human unraveling as we adaptively wave goodbye to the Industrial Age.
Of her craft, DiCioccio states, “The tedious handiwork and obsessive care I employ to create my work aims to remind the viewer of these simple but intimate pieces of everyday life and to provoke a pang of nostalgia for the familiar physicality of these objects.”
Powerfully disturbing, and certainly controversial, the art that 22-year old artist The Kid creates spans genres. He describes his work as “forever caught between innocence and corruption,” and the well-executed pieces are compelling with their huge, detailed, Bic pen-drawn faces and hyper-realistic sculpted bodies. Photos of his sculptures, made from materials such as platinum silicon, glass fiber, oil paint, human hair, cotton, and mixed fabrics, force you to look, and look again, in order to believe that they are, in fact, inanimate objects.
In his latest work, The Kid is influenced by bullying inflicted on him by fellow students and teachers when he was younger. The sculpture “Do you believe in God?” which depicts the artist kneeling and holding a gun in his own mouth, was in response to the Columbine killers, who he feels he understands and sees as “victims of a social context.”
“All subjects of my drawings for the exhibition “endgame” really exist and are currently being held in prison-even in the United States-with exactly these tattoos. They are not imaginary and no detail is invented. They are all serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, until they die in prison. There is no other hope for them-a life in adult prison at the beginning of their sentence, that’s all, even though they have been convicted of violent crimes they committed before the age of 18.” (Source)
It’s clear that The Kid empathizes with these stigmatized subjects and hopes to give them back some humanity by evoking compassion from the viewer. Many share his view that social determinism condemns people from birth because of their familial circumstances, but by depicting, in such a graphic way, a sampling of those who are affected, he brings attention to the issue. It’s not empty sentiment, either. The Kid donated a portion of the profits from this work to the non-profit organization Human Rights Watch, which defends the rights of people worldwide. (Via yatzer)
Photographer and videographer Khalik Allah has been shooting candid photos on the streets of Harlem since 2012. Having developed a relationship of trust with those in the neighborhood he frequents, his photographs reveal, softly, but emphatically, a side of city life that is struggling and raw. Allah ventures into the night alone, with his camera and a few rolls of film, and through him we meet those he crosses along the way.
There is such a fine line, in photographing marginalized communities, between documentation and exploitation. When is the camera no longer communicating a reality and instead romanticizing the hardships? When has our empathy, or humanity, turned to voyeurism? Although addiction and poverty are notable characters in Allah’s photographs, they manage to refrain from becoming the central focal point, and his work extends itself with just as much heart as it does grit. Allah muses on his website about this very topic:
“I feel it’s impossible for any photographer to maintain objectivity. The photographer always has a literal point of view, camera choice, light choice, and many other choices; by default these choices will always make it a subjective form. Subjectivity doesn’t diminish the power a photograph may contain.”
Allah walks the line with a conscientious sort of fragility, and has catalogued a selection of work that shows darkness as well as light. There is a light that remains, and sometimes shines out. Allah has crept close enough to show us the souls through the eyes, in case we forgot to look for ourselves. (Excerpt from Source)
Black models dressed up in traditional Flemish costumes. Maxine Helfman takes photographs the way Old Masters would have portrayed high society in the 17th century. In this series called “Historical Correction”, the artist offers the option of a reverse history. She wants to create a past that never existed. Her purpose is to create a dialogue with the viewers.
Using the same white collars, hats and black tunics. Even the poses are similar, mostly directly looking into the camera, only portraits and a use of lighting which features the faces. She doesn’t use a frame in order to keep the focus on the portraits. Maxine Helfman confirms that she was very careful on how approaching this project. Being a white women herself, she didn’t want to create confusion around a sensible subject.
By creating fictional narratives, she gives another outlook on history and culture. She directs the issues of race by looking at a different society in another time. The photographs are an indirect testimony that race and class are nowhere to be parted. Using art as a mean to express an idea, to make a statement; her series is not to be looked at as a final fact. She opens the door to a discussion about race, equality and how these issues are dealt within their country, wherever the viewers are. “All of my projects begin with that concept….it is the conversation that is generated that is fascinating…..positive and negative”.
Noah Scalin lives and works in Richmond Virginia. His work consists of various skulls created from mundane objects such as wine corks, bed sheets, and tea bags to name a few. His daily creations culminated in the Skull-A-Day art project and blog in which Noah created and photographed one skull a day for a year. His latest skull creation is entitled “Dead Media”. Made from 497 VHS videocassettes, the installation comments on materials that were once considered cutting edge. Scalin’s clever variations on the skull remind us of fragility while inspiring us to see mundane objects as opportunities to playfully manipulate.