While many mediums have a constant back and forth debate between an emphasis towards using traditional, conventional methors or more recently available techniques, printmaker Carolyn Frischling does not concern herself with the argument. The Pittsburgh-based artist investigates new techniques in both image creation and printing methods, while continuing to honor the constantly-evolving history of the medium. “I’m proud that printmaking comes out of a long line of democratic, inclusive ideals, that today is at the forefront of technology and creativity.” Like many makers of prints, Frischling uses several simultaneous techniques to achieve the airy and colorful visual textures in her work, differentiated only by the image creation beforehand using computer editing programs. When asked by Beautiful/Decay to explain the benefits of working digitally versus using traditional methods, Frischling first explains, “Digital art enables me to use the same thought processes of traditional printmaking without the toxicity of using traditional materials on a daily basis.”
These moody and ethereal digital works are printed with archival inks on paper, silk, glass and aluminum, heavy with an abstract beauty attached to their process. Frischling further explains her methodology, “Digital printmaking is incredibly nuanced. There is so much more I can do that I couldn’t do in traditional printmaking, although the only reason I understand digital as well as I do, is because the thought processes are the very same. Sometimes I do miss the physicality involved in other kinds of art-making, but my art isn’t about physicality, so I think in this instance,”The medium is the message.”
Ultimately, whether created by physical process or digital manipulation, the works speak for themselves with strong compositions, moody palates, delicate forms and attest to the time spent mastering any artistic discipline. When Frischling explains, “My instinct is always to create movement and energy through use of color and form”, it is a goal separate from process and more located in ambition.
We’ve seen innovative art made from tape before. The work of Monika Grzymala, though, is ambitious, seemingly chaotic, and even violent. Using over three miles of black tape, Grzymala inundate’s the gallery space. The tape wraps around corners and seems to splatter on to the wall as if it were liquid. Grzymala’s work adds dimensionality to a usually flat material in a way that is surprising and nearly disturbing. By appearing to forcibly occupy the gallery space, the installation compels the viewers to interact with the space in a new way.
Storybook worlds unfold in the photographs of Stephanie Wiegner, a German born artist currently getting her MFA in Storytelling at Konstfack University College of Art, Craft and Design in Stockholm, Sweden. Extremely creative portraits, along with dreamy landscapes, Stephanie finds a way to keep her muted palate extremely saturated, and it has me captivated!
Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, of Baltimore, produces sculpture, collage (see above), and illustration. But the majority of his fine arts output is done through digital media. His digital compositions aren’t really like any I’ve seen before. They combine a far out, cosmic sensibility with soft, colorful gradients and textures. I could meditate on these for a while. Some of Alvarez’ works are so simple, yet they maintain a lot of gravity, as though they hold something really important just beyond your grasp. And the creepy smiley faces he repeats throughout his work really get to me. Click past the jump for more collage, couches floating in space, and a workbench installation.
Artist Sheida Soleimani has translated her frustration with her home country Iran and it’s politics into a captivating and symbolically complex photographic series called National Anthem. Her parents fled the country in 1979 after the revolution that overthrew the pro-western Pahlavi dynasty took place. (Both parents were targeted for actively opposing the regime – her mother tortured, and her father escaping across the border.) As a political refugee in America, Soleimani observed her country transition through several fundamental changes and decided to express her disdain visually. Each photographic scene is an exploration of cultural themes and symbols all representing different aspects of the last 35 years in Iran, and the many different dictators and leaders the country has seen. Soleimani says:
In my photographic scenarios, cultural symbols and signifiers are appropriated to create a narrative in regards to my position as an Iranian-American viewing the Middle East from an outside lens. The usage of specific colors and political figures form a symbolic lexicon that runs throughout the series, while party supplies hint at the doctrines of ‘political parties’. Each of the photographs addresses a specific time in Iranian history, while alluding to how both the East and West have responded to societal occurrences. Through incorporating multiple layers, the lexicon can be read and refashioned by the viewers’ ideologies, creating images that remain coeval, while acknowledging former origins. (Source)
Combining collage, installation, performance and object assemblage, Soleimani creates powerful, emotional art-as-activism. The fierce mark making, scrunched up images, burnt candles, and mutilated cultural objects all have the hand of an aggrieved survivor. Managing to turn her deeply personal history into a series of clever, sarcastic visual puns, Soleimani’s artistic therapy is beneficial to us all.
Artist Sam Songailo uses bright colors, straight lines, and bold, graphic shapes in his outdoor and indoor installations. Geometric repeating patterns span span floors, ceilings, and walls. Lighting plays a role in his work as it enhances color and gives the work a sense of space and a depth of field. Once the viewer is immersed in the space, all of the elements of Songailo’s work transports them to another place.
Outdoor installations, like the ones on a city street, work with the existing landscape. Songailo’s patterns fill and conform to every inch of the given space like a mutating organism. The high-contrast colors and intricate trellis-like shapes create a disorienting effect. Not so much when viewing it as a whole from above, but walking through it leaves little indication of direction.
Before he started large-scale installations, Songailo was a graphic designer. This is evident in the execution of his work, especially in one of his few indoor installations, Zen Garden (directly above). The piece mimics the lines of sand, with a few “rocks” that are spread throughout the gallery floor. Songailo is able to have full control over the space, and uses principles of design to make it not only attractive, but to effectively transport the viewer to a minimalist, geometric zen garden.