Nebraska based artist Cindy Chinn carves unbelievable miniaturized objects within the lead of carpenter pencils. Chinn’s starting material is less than an inch wide, yet using an X-Acto knife and a magnifying glass, the artist is able to achieve intricate details with a charming folk art-like character. Her most involved piece of the series features a tiny locomotive train that scales the whole pencil. This work even includes a cut out carved portion that acts like a bridge crossing, exposing the train to be the full length of the pencil. The work was created through a process of collage; she carved the 3/16 inch train from the lead of one pencil and then fashioned it within the center of another pencil, adding two other small pieces of lead as rails. Due to the unique size of her work, Chinn incorporates a tiny magnifying glass as a part of her pieces, glorifying the work’s preciousness and inviting the viewer to have a personalized and intimate experience of the minuscule details. Her work tends to portray every day and perhaps even nostalgia provoking objects. For example, a tiny Chuck Taylor shoe, a darling fall leaf, and a hockey stick with a puck. This pencil carving project is just a side project; she is also a multimedia artist with many focuses such as larger scale wood carvings, murals, and paintings. (via My Modern Met)
In a series titled Volutes (Curls in English), French photographer Gilles Soudry captures the haunting images of smoke frozen in time. Set against a black backdrop, the jets and coils unfold hypnotically, creating eerie, translucent shapes that take the likeness of strange creatures: aliens, ghosts, deep-sea invertebrates, and parasites come to mind. The indistinct shapes allow the viewer to make his or her own interpretation of what the smoke has manifested. At once ephemeral and static, it’s like an otherworldly dance that transcends the logic of space and time, or as Soudry describes it, “an aerial choreography [. . .], outlining an imaginary figure which is freezing into crystalline transparency before it scatters” (Source).
Trained as a photoengraver, Soudry’s work is aimed towards the “photography of matter, surface effects, [and] transparency” (Source). He is interested in shifting outlines and fluid dynamics, combining the fixed nature of the image with figures of immateriality and transience. Volutes captures beauty, mysticism (and indeed, a dark sentience) where otherwise there would just be a thin haze. In this way, Soudry fosters an awareness and appreciation for the beauty and forms that occur on the periphery of materiality and awareness.
Anyone who has ever pursued a liberal arts career has probably heard the opinion: that there’s no future in the arts, or at the very least, it’s going to be extremely difficult. While the latter is probably true (Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so on), the bias against the arts—often in favor of science and the trades—is highly prevalent in our public discourse.
Old Navy recently attracted some heat by releasing two “funny” toddler tees, both emblazoned with the “YOUNG ASPIRING ARTIST” motto, with “ARTIST” crossed out. Scrawled beneath are two alternative career paths: “Astronaut” and “President” (although, really, we don’t think these careers are any easier to attain). Twitter users voiced their offense, and soon after, artist Steve Ogden humorously modified the designs, overwriting “YOUNG ASPIRING OLD NAVY EXEC” with “ARTIST” and “HUMAN.” Here’s a response from the company, as published on artnet News:
“At Old Navy we take our responsibility to our customers seriously. We would never intentionally offend anyone, and we are sorry if that has been the case. Our toddler tees come in a variety of designs including tees that feature ballerinas, unicorns, trucks, and dinosaurs, and [they] include phrases like ‘Free Spirit.’ They are meant to appeal to a wide range of aspirations. With this particular tee, as a result of customer feedback, we have decided to discontinue the design and will work to remove the item from our stores.” (Source)
Overall, the initial designs and the subsequent outcry reminds us that we shouldn’t disparage our artists. For those who are determined, it is plausible to develop a career in such fields—and there is value in it. After all, who could live in a world without art? (Via artnet News)
Cuban artist Rubén Fuentes creates euphoric and surreal ink landscapes that serve as an admiration of nature as well as a quest within a meditative and serene space. Fuentes, inspired by the lush greenery of his homeland, uses his work as a means to sympathize and glorify “all of the ecosystems of our planet.” He greatly uses Chinese shan shui ink drawings as an influence methodically, aesthetically, and philosophically. Shan shui works are known for their beautifully detailed yet simultaneous almost mystical, abstract and dreamlike quality. They are strongly referential to Daoist notions of living in harmony with all— and, similar to the Abstract Expressionist movement — shan shui paintings bend and evolve the notion of what a painting is meant to achieve; these works are a vehicle for less tangible elements such as meditation and philosophy. Fuentes believes that art acts as a means of self reflection, and thus, creating art allows one to practice and improve on one’s ethical behavior and cognitive self. Therefore, the act of creating art is simultaneous, in a sense, to the act of meditation.
Within the statement of his series titled Mind Landscapes, Fuentes’ states that he tries “to represent in my art works an inner strength, a cosmological and telluric force within us that transcends the duality of matter and spirit. The practice of zen, along with a worship of mother earth and the invocation of vital forces in nature, inherited from the past of the native Cubans, Afro-Cuban culture, as well as Chinese Taoism, mark the center of my latest works.” (via INAG)
Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg uses DNA extracted from items like chewing gum and cigarettes to create three-dimensional portraits. For her project, “Stranger Visions,” Dewey-Hagborg collected discarded trash from the streets of Brooklyn, New York and sequenced them at a biotechnology lab. Through this process, she was able to isolate specific DNA strands, which helped her unravel the ethnic-gender identity of the past users. She used that information to create a sketch of what each of these people might have looked like. This information was then relayed via three-dimensional printer into the final hanging works.
As an information artist, Dewey-Hagborg is interested in the intersection between technology and art but her work is more complex than that. Through “Stranger Visions” Dewey-Hagborg confronts the impossibility of privacy. If even the smallest bit of rubbish can detail what we look like, what else could be used to expose us to the world at large? Is DNA the identity theft problem of the future? (via Design Faves)
George Boorujy is a New York-based artist who paints large-scale animal portraits with ink. His subjects are non-human inhabitants of North America, such as bluebirds, lynxes, vultures, and black bears. Each species is incredibly researched, and it shows; after visiting zoos and studying photographs, Boorujy recreates the animals with painstaking detail. Every feather and tuft of fur is accounted for, creating a palpable and almost hyper-realistic sense of texture and animation. Set against a white backdrop, the viewer gets the rare opportunity to study the animals and appreciate their distinctiveness and beauty.
There is no denying that Boorujy’s subjects have a way of demanding our attention; their silent, steady gazes drill into the soul, in a deeply personal encounter. When our eyes meet, the boundaries between “humans” and “animals” fall away into a greater awareness of cross-species consciousness. The following quoted statement from Colossal reveals the emotional and philosophical intent of Boorujy’s works:
“Boorujy challenges the viewer to confront both the animal and their preconceived notions about it. Through their gaze an interaction evolves with the wild that otherwise would have to be sought out or birthed from happenstance. However fleeting our exchanges with the wild are, an impression of their presence marks our memories. There is something mystical at play; a silent exchange that either moves us towards awareness or heightens our fear of the unknown.” (Source)
Northern Irish, Australian based artist Emma Coulter creates large scale colorful illusions that break the boundaries between painting, sculpture, installation, and interior design. Her work, being painted or installed directly on the walls, are site specific, allowing each vibrant piece to exist as a reaction and assessment of it’s environment. She notes that “spatiality in painting has long been a problem in the history of art.” Her process allows to her “utilis(e) space as a raw material,” challenging the traditional approach to figure out and investigate the issue of space and light. Her use of color and geometry employs a distortion of the space— creating illusory elements that both add and destroy previous conceptions of reality. Within in artist statement, Coulter explains:
“I see colour as an object or material to be manipulated through placement, proportion and adjacency in response to space. I am interested in challenging our assumptions about colour. It is a commonly misunderstood material, that is often associated with not being critical or serious. Through my systematic approach to colour and the spatiality of painting, I hope to reveal something new about the practice of painting and its potential to blur boundaries and adapt environments.”
Her use of color, big, bold and bright, is a nice wink to conceptual minimalist artists such as Sol LeWiitt; her work captures that same notion of a somehow clean experimentation. Truly a contemporary take on difficult and endless artistic quandaries. (via PICDIT)
Juan Ford uses duct tape to piece together a post-apocalyptic world. By connecting elements like sticks, “fragile” tape, leaves, chains, and sports gear, his paintings foreshadow a future where nature and plasticity merge as human beings fight for survival.
Ford’s paintings are a combination of solitary figures and haphazard geographic markers that point to an existence imagined in futurist novels and sci-fi movies. The figures, whose survival gear is a collection of protective pieces and camouflage, are both stoic and pleading, and we are urged to decipher the identity of each one via the costume they have assumed. Branches wrapped in tape indicate a fragile political boundary that time and weather cannot guarantee.
Ford is trying to extend traditional painting into a genre “as relevant as the most cutting edge contemporary art,” but these works become even more powerful in an installation environment. For ArtBasel Hong Kong (2013), his exhibition space was covered in a large panoramic forest scene. With works hung on top, this photographic backdrop starkly differentiates his hyperrealistic paintings and asks us to step between a real and imagined chaotic world. His Mildura Palimpsest Biennale show (2013) had works hung on black walls surrounded by primitive hunting tools.
Ford considers the outcomes of a fragile and politically intertwined existence. His images, which seem to lack meaning in their arbitrariness, present a poignant and uncanny unity to a world that we may not live in yet but is not too difficult to imagine. Ford lives and works in Australia and was recently awarded a New Work Grant by the Australia Council for the Arts. (via booooooom!)
Artist quote from Gillie and Margaret Daily
Photography taken from: juanford.com