Seth Casteel has done it again. He has come up with a great sequel to his widely successfully photographic series of dogs underwater with crazy faces and curious poses (previously featured here on Beautiful/Decay). This time around we have an equally cute subject matter – babies. Full of lively little bodies twisting and turning in the bubbling water, Casteel captures the large personalities of the kids in his new book Underwater Babies. We see the full range of human emotion on their little faces – from surprise, to glee, to terror, to mischievousness, to serenity and everything in between. Beautifully lit and dramatically staged, the kids faces will capture your heart immediately.
As a huge fan of dogs, puppies, and all things canine, Casteel wanted to raise awareness of animal abuse with his first series. After his Underwater Dogs photographs went super viral all over the internet, and then went on to sell over half a million copies around the world, he realized the power of images and applied it to another worthy cause. He explains more:
Through advocating water safety for pets, I became aware that water safety for children was also a very serious issue. Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death of children under the age of five in the United States. Infant swimming lessons can help to reduce the risk of drowning by up to 88%. By creating this book, I hope to encourage and inspire parent to consider swim lessons for their children, with the ultimate goal of preventing tragedies. (Source)
You can purchase his Underwater Babies book here through Amazon.
Taking the idea of a dining table and adding a twist, Michael Beitz constructs some pretty amazing furniture. Instead of a flat surface he creates a friendly wave and some distance between the two sides. Normally dining tables are associated with friends, family and connection. Beitz’ work on the other hand is related to keeping a few feet away from the other person either through length or an obstruction in the middle. If it weren’t for the titles you might not know why the artist would make what he does except for aesthetic reasons. However, since he defines his sculptures we’re given clues as to why his work is made. The underlining current points to communication or lack of. Another is domestic space. “Not Now” is his latest table with a huge wave type loop in its center. It recalls roller coasters and skater loops. The construction itself is done with an old fashioned wood oak or mahogany. He documents the work with two people sitting on each end and visually defines its purpose. Other recent projects have been “Picnic Table” which takes the traditional picnic bench and turns it into a swirling dervish of wooden proportions. Another is “Knot” where instead of a table he creates a huge knot between two couches.
Beitz has documented some of his larger projects on video. These include folding, slapping and fan houses. (via ignant)
Niyoko Ikuta sculpts with glass, creating elegant layered shapes that seem at once severe and inviting. There’s a glacial quality to Ikuta’s sculptures, imparted by both the ocean blue palette of soft blues and marine greens as well as the brittle edges of each layer of glass.
In an interview with V&A, she says, “In creating my pieces it is like imagining an architectural space when viewing blueprints, deciding on an image by reading into the intentions of the architect, or imbuing a space with dynamic energy to bring it to life.”
Her sculptures do seem almost like three-dimensional blueprints. They could be compared to a wire model, implying the way a shape might take up space or giving us a sense of motion without actual movement. The result is ethereal: delicate curves and swirls that seem like they could evaporate at any moment.
Ikuta says of her work,
“My motifs are derived from feelings of gentleness and harshness, fear, limitless expansion experienced through contact with nature, images from music, ethnic conflict, the heart affected by joy and anger, and prayer.” (via This Is Colossal)
Giorgio Cravero is an Italian photographer who has combined food photography with social criticism, producing a series of surreal images that metaphorically explore environmental degradation and the perseverance of nature. The color seeping from each fruit and vegetable represents humankind’s brutal exploitation of natural resources, as our unsustainable practices seek to strip nature of its very essence. In a vampiric fashion, like lifeblood drained from a body, the fruits and veggies blacken where the color filters down. However, hope remains, as the top holds its pigment. As Cravero explains:
“Men are poison for the earth. […] Nature will outlive us: in the fruit and toxic vegetables, where color slides away, there’s the upper part which firmly holds the color of life. Do we really think that we can make a difference? Do we really think, in the age of technology, that we can lay down mankind’s law to the extent that we dominate the law of nature?” (Source)
At the core of Cravero’s series is a message about the inevitable pitfalls of human arrogance. As our technological capacities have increased, so has our pride, and so we manufacture our own destruction. “The blackened chicory, the abandoned carrots are the clear images that, okay, we needed a knife to tear the meat off our prey, therefore we are technical beings for survival,” he writes, explaining where the inflated sense of confidence and self-importance came from, “but Earth had also imposed on us to be humble.” Cravero maintains that, for us, this is a fatal type of arrogance, but nature itself will survive in some form. “Nature defeats us in silence, or in any case, it will stay here for longer than us, it will be run-down, but it will still be there. […] Nature doesn’t give a damn about our pain or our profit logic” (Source).
At first glance, this series by photographer Stacey Tyrell seems to portray nothing out of the ordinary, just portraits of white women living their lives. At closer inspection, however, you realize all of the women look the same; they share uncanny similarities with just a few differences in hair, eye, and skin color. In reality, Stacey Tyrell has staged these scenes representing depictions of Caucasian women using herself as a model. Interestingly enough, the artist herself is black. The title of Tyrell’s deeply memorable series is BackraBluid. Backra, originating from West Africa, means white master or person. Bluid is a Scotch word for the blood of men or kin. These two words combined represent two different points of origin in the artist’s family heritage. Tyrell explores her ancestry in this series, which includes English, Scottish, and Irish.
Most everyone in post-colonial societies, especially in the Western world, is the descendant of a diverse range of ancestry, producing many individuals with what may appear to be ambiguous ethnicities. These individuals may identify with one, multiple, or even none of their racial or cultural identities. However, by nature, humans want to make sense of their surrounding and tend to place others in categories. Stacey Tyrell has experienced this first hand. She explains the significance of this experience in relation to Backra Bluid.
Upon viewing my physical features I am automatically assigned a racial identity by whoever is looking at me. Skin color often obscures and over-rides the features and markers of other races that may be present in my genetic make-up. By simply changing my skin color and making subtle tweaks to my features I wish to show that if someone were to take a closer look at my face they would see that it might not be that much different from their own.
Illustrator Isobelle Ouzman upcycles would-be discarded books into sculptural works of art. She cuts back the pages and draws nature scenes that together, create an alluring new narrative. The primarily black-and-white images have spots of color added to them, and they hearken the viewer into this special place.Ouzman calls her creations Altered Books.
Using an X-acto knife, Micron pens, watercolor paint, and a lot of love, Ouzman breathes new life into these objects. “Every book that I alter was found by a dumpster in Seattle, a recycling bin, a thrift store, or was given to me by someone who no longer wants it,” she writes. “Rather than have these discarded books sit out in the rain or in some store to gather dust, I’m striving to make good use of them. I love books very much and would never carve into one that was valuable. I just want to give them a new life and a second chance to mean something again.”
Carpenter, furniture designer and innovator Gavin Munro is heading a project called Full Grown that is achieving incredible things. He and his team have an ambitious and revolutionary idea of growing trees around frames and supports that will shape them into chairs, tables, mirror frames, and light shades. The process takes a few years, but ultimately saves on labor and time when it comes to chopping, harvesting, sanding, polishing and finishing the furniture.
The idea for Full Grown started when, as a young boy, Munro saw an overgrown bonsai tree that looked remarkably like a chair. In a strange twist of fate, he then needed a back brace to help straighten his spine. With the time to mull over a few things, he put these different experiences together with his expertise in furniture making to try something new.
It’s where I learnt patience. There were long periods of staying still, plenty of time to observe what was going on and reflect. It was only after doing this project for a few years a friend pointed out that I must know exactly what it’s like to be shaped and grafted on a similar time scale. (Source)
So treating wood the same way his own bones were treated, he experimented with growing different prototypes. After a couple of attempts with willow trees, Munro now has almost 3,000 trees growing into furniture on 2.5 acres. The first pieces will be ready in Spring 2016 and you can pre order different pieces here. Obviously, each piece is unique and unrepeatable, all marked and with a Certificate of Provenance. Ultimately Munro hopes to achieve a new understanding of wood and it’s brilliance.
I hope that our work highlights what it takes to make the objects we surround ourselves with, and that no one looks at trees in quite the the same way again. (Source)
If you had a sad childhood and wanted to make art about it look no further. Urusla Sokolowska has already done it for you. Taking child-sized mannequins and projecting images of her young face onto to them she explores the displacement and alienation she felt as a kid immigrating to the US from her native Poland. In her series The Constructed Family her messages are subtly and darkly humorous. By placing the figure in locations which do not hold cheerful memories for Sokolowska, we are reminded that art does indeed have cathartic powers and is a positive way to confront our demons. Her locations speak for themselves; a basement, a lonely street corner, a neighbor’s house, an alleyway, a bed. These domestic scenes which provoke unhappy memories are powerfully done from the perspective of an innocent child. Displacement is a serious feeling and perhaps even worse for a child who doesn’t have much control over their situation.
In moody dim lit photos, Sokolowska projects what she remembers from that time. Titles give hints but to the observer it’s clearly obvious what she’s thinking. We always hear about happy childhoods or outright abusive childhoods. Rarely do we hear about sad childhoods caused by normal occurrences that happen to families every day. Sokolowska brings this new dynamic to life with her powerful thought provoking images.