Commercial photographer Matthew Rolston had built a career on entertainment portraiture, advertising, and music videos until 2009, the year in which he started venturing off his usual gigs.
“My professional work is subject to tremendous agendas; everything I do is mediated by a group of people, even the creative work is usually mentioned in a contract.
His next project became something more fun, with a bit more creative freedom, and a lack of human subjects. Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits, a 224-page book, features more than 50 portraits of Ventriloquist dummies from then Vent Haven Museum. Rolston uses his commercial skills, a rather formal photographic approach, to create human-like portraits of these creepy yet endearing dolls. The photographer re-appropriates techniques from his past in order to create a “personal response to the emanations of humanity that come from these terribly evocative inanimate objects.”
“By employing the same techniques and emotional approach I would apply to a human subject, I believe I was able to portray these figures in much the same way. … For me these figures have a yearning quality. They speak through their eyes, since their voices—voices of their ventriloquists—are now long silent. I found them to be endearing, hilarious, tragic, even disturbing—sometimes all at once.”
Photographer Brian McCarty combines the innocence of childhood with the horrors of war in his series WAR-TOYS. Violent scenes are reenacted with toys; Bombs are dropped on a pink plastic house, while toy soldiers gun down a giant-headed doll. McCarty’s source material is the drawings of children who live in war-torn areas like the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.
The artist travelled to the sites where the children had been, which adds another level of sadness to these images. This project is not just the undertaking of McCarty, but he pairs with other aid workers as well. From his artist statement:
Employing principles of expressive art therapy, my process begins with observation and guided interaction with children under the care of humanitarian organizations operating in areas of active conflict. Specialized therapists and caregivers conduct art-based interviews on my behalf, inviting children to draw pictures about their lives and experiences. The resulting illustrations serve as art direction and basis for photographic exploration.
McCarty tries to involve the tiny artists, too, and uses toys that are acquired locally. You’ll see that a Disney Princess is in the line of fire. He writes:
When possible and under the guidance of specialists, I invite the children to actively participate and use the photographic process as a form of therapeutic play. The resulting photographs provide an interpretive document of witnessed events and context for the children’s accounts.
McCarty plans to continue this project and travel to Afghanistan, Sudan, and Colombia. (Via Huffington Post)
Photographers Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida(previously here) found love through photography while attending art school, but they also found a way to combine their interests in gourmet food and miniature worlds by combining them all into playful scenarios. Their most comprehesive series, MINIMIAM, has been an exploration of visual solutions in miniature since 2002. Says Ida, “We’re both food photographer in our daily work, and we’re both quite crazy about cooking, eating and everything about food. So when we started this small people series, naturally we created the stories related to the food.”
The series (a portmanteau from mini and miam, meaning yum! in French), sets miniature figures in whimsical settings, opening up the possibilities of food photography and creating stories from visual puns. The figures are found from model train set kits (usually 1/87 scale), and seen sledding through icing like snow, blowing air into raisins with a handpump to explain the origin of grapes, and recalling Michelangelo by carving away the shell of a peanut to set free the trapped sculpture (peanut) within.
Berlin Based artist Deenesh Ghyczy creates Soul Out, a series of oil paintings that deal with the concept of out-of-body-experiences. These hazily surreal and unusual but stunning portraits feature a clear image of a concept that is often questioned by many. Through his paintings, he intends to blur the boundaries between reality and the figments of one’s imagination in order to give the viewer a chance to really visualize what such a thing would look like.
The painterly, yet realistic work displays each subject as a person with multiple existences. The overlapping lines and repetitive facial features allude to different levels of spiritual and/or physical realms. We can say that one of these levels is the physical space in which their current physical form exists, while the others are extension of the physical, perhaps a place in which the soul (an immaterial entity) meanders freely, with no restrictions from the materiel world.
Ghyczy’s previous works appear to be concerned with the multiplicity of the self, as well as inner reflection. His work often evoke feelings of serenity and contemplation as well as feelings of uncertainty and apprehension towards these abstract but very ‘real’ concepts.(via My Modern Met)
Jessica Stoller‘s porcelain sculptures exaggerate the objectification of female bodies using 18th century French aesthetics. Through the medium of clay, Stoller sculpts fluid and grotesque shapes, emphasizing the lack of boundaries between bodies and other materialist images related to consumption. She embellishes this unsettling bodily abundance with a soft, feminine, candy and ice-cream color palette and opulent adornments. These figures are often erotically or mythically charged.This creates an experience of surreal bodily and material abjection for the viewer, while addressing cultural concerns about the control of the feminine body. Stoller’s work, “Spoil,” is currently on view at PPOW Gallery in New York until February 8. (via hi fructose)
Beautiful/Decay is excited to bring you our exclusive artist feature in partnership with Made With Color, the premiere platform for artist websites. Each week we join forces to bring you some of the most exciting creatives working today who use Made With Color to create their clean and sleek sites. All Made With Color sites not only work beautifully on your computer but also come optimized for mobile and tablet users making sure that your portfolio looks professional no matter how you view it. For this weeks artist spotlight we bring you the illustrations of Kelley Hagemes.
Savannah, Georgia based artist and illustrator Kelley Hagemes creates mixed media works that reference various religious and mythical iconography. Imagery of the sublime is mixed with rich symbolism of life, regret, death, and the unknown.I
When I was a kid I had to go to Catholic school for a period of time, and my parents made were quite the Catholics. I feel like I was always surrounded by these images of the Sublime, dripping with symbolism and encased in ornament. Images of things that were supposed to be beautiful but also strike some sort of fear or uneasiness in you.
More broadly Kelley’s work is about dealing with lifes demons, finding happiness after sadness, transformation and strength while having to find beauty in some pretty ugly places throughout the process.
London-based Japanese photographer Chino Otsuka has created a series of time-traveling photo manipulations that allow her past and present selves to exist in the same time and place. Titled “Imagine Finding Me,” the series is a result of Ostuka digitally splicing her image into old photographs from her childhood during the 70s and 80s, creating seamless collaged manipulations. These photographs represent a doubled identity for Otsuka, reflecting both her Japanese roots and the heavy influence of Western culture. They also raise questions about how we remember our pasts and how these stories intersect with our modern lives. Otsuka explains, ”The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history.” (via my modern met)
Mark Twain once noted, “Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to”, indicating more than just a lack of fur separates us from our fellow mammals. Swiss photographer Vicky Althaus is known for taking risks to achieve unique scenes for capture, but her newest series offers something even more primal.
Going beyond setting the human body in a natural environment, Althaus has set her subject in what appears to be the familiar scene of a natural history museum. This combination, rather than simply pairing a model with live or taxidermied animals in a more natural state, calls into question our ideas of conservation, our relationship to animals, as well as our relationship to our own bodies. Offering very little titillation, the model’s nudity mirrors the animals, though the interaction appears off-putting, enhanced by the dimly lit room and drab staging. Perhaps the most interesting observation is that the nude model, merely stopping in and solely as a visitor, appears as unnatural as the stuffed animals that are meant to portray some example of our natural world. (via juxtapoz)