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Adorably Grotesque: The Inverted Stuffed Animals Of Kent Rogowski

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Kent Rogowski is a Brooklyn-based artist who alters consumer products as a means of exploring the emotional and cultural roles such objects play in our lives. We featured his Everything I Wish I Could Be project a couple years ago, wherein Rogowsky reconfigured self-help books in order to construct subjective narratives of experience and self-definition. The series featured here, titled Bears, takes an arguably darker — but no less profound — approach to our relationship with material objects. By inverting (formerly) adorable stuffed animals and re-stuffing them, Rogowsky has created a cast of strange, sad, and grotesque characters. The visibility of their internal structures has an undeniably disturbing effect; with their exposed seams, spilling stuffing, and lidless eyes, they look like the flayed and eviscerated versions of our childhood companions. As Sarah Verdone eloquently (and humorously) wrote for Paper Magazine: “If Hannibal Lecter, Martin Margiela and a blind speed freak had a three-way in a Build-A-Bear workshop, these creatures would be their mutant offspring” (Source).

But Rogowski’s project is not just about clashing the cute with the grotesque — which, in a way, alienates us from material objects typically associated with nostalgia and comfort. His mutilated creations, in their sordid states of innocent suffering, are portraits of the hardships we experience as we grow, struggle, and change. Despite their crippling disfigurement, the stuffed creations maintain an appearance of love and loyalty, steadfastly “holding it together,” waiting for you to return home while everything slowly unravels at the seams. In a fascinating statement about this project, Rogowski writes:

“They are at once hideous yet cuddly, […] while offering a metaphor for us all to consider. These bears, which have lived and loved and lost as much as their owners, have suffered and endured through it all. It is by virtue of revealing their inner core might we better understand our own.” (Source)

Check out Rogowski’s website for more examples of his insightful explorations of consumer products and the way they impact our internal lives. (Via Design Faves)

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Bad Things That Could Happen

Amazingly clever short from London collective This Is It. It’s easy to forget that the only props being used are cardboard, people, and a lot of ingenuity.

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Michael Salter Recycles Styrofoam Into Giant Robots

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A digital arts/new media professor at The University Of Oregon, has found a clever, new way to recycle Styrofoam. He builds gigantic robots out of it. The robots are massive and according to artist Michael Salter, reflects the local streets he sees everyday. It’s not the livelier sections,  but the mundane, plain parts which inspire him to create. It’s a bit hard to see the connection to this statement because there is nothing plain or boring about his Styrobots. Perhaps what the artist means is that they embrace quiet, domestic scenes reminiscent of these faceless places, which is true.

Exhibited in about 20 museums to date, the Styrobots can stand 16 inches to 22 feet high.  Various displays have shown them upright, sitting, holding hands with a tiny friend, surrounded by a smaller group or headless and torn apart. The standing bots embody characteristics mirroring the lead character in The Iron Giant. For those not familiar, the animated movie centers around a giant war robot who crash lands in a small town and befriends a young boy.  The Styrobots have the same gentle giant quality displayed in the movie.

Salter finds his material through donations.  Styrofoam is primarily used for packing but can be utilized as pipe insulation and preventing roads from freezing over. The material itself, polystyrene is extremely flammable and carcinogenic. When lit, it has the capacity of releasing 57 different kinds of chemical by-products.  (faithistorment)

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Engineer Zachary Abel Creates Complex Geometrical Sculptures Out Of Office Supplies And Other Household Items

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His passion for mathematics has led Zachary Abel to create geometric, science inspired sculptures made out of random elements. Paper clips, binder clips, playing cards and toothpicks are assembled according to specific formulas.

From far, the round sculptures appear uncomplicated to achieve. In actuality, Zachary Abel uses small needle-nose pliers and a schematic layout. For the Impenetraball project, the ball is comprised of 132 binder clips. The round form is obtained by assembling the binder clips one by one following a flat pattern in order to get a hollow centre and a filled surface. The designs have been so popular the talented engineer had to make a guide on how to construct the binder clip ball on his blog.

Zachary Abel in his Mathematical sculptures series is willing to share his enthusiasm for maths; replacing paint and brushes with pliers and patience. ‘Geometry in particular fascinates me, and I delight in discovering hidden patterns even in the most mundane of objects.’

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Nest Made from 10,000 Reclaimed Wood Boards By Mark Reigelman

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Artist Mark Reigelman‘s new site-specific installation is aptly titled Reading Nest.  The structure was created just outside the Cleveland Public Library using thousands of reclaimed wood boards.  Reading Nest acts as an alternative setting for learning and growth.  In his statement Reigleman says of the installation’s symbolism:

“For centuries objects in nature have been associated with knowledge and wisdom. Trees of enlightenment and scholarly owls have been particularly prominent in this history of mythological objects of knowledge. The Reading Nest is a visual intermediary between forest and fowl. It symbolizes growth, community and knowledge while continuing to embody mythical roots.”   [via]

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Justin DeVine Creates An Amusingly Strange Mashup Of The Muppets And Twin Peaks

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Our society, by and large, seems to love mashups of popular culture. Adding to the growing list of amusing combinations is Justin DeVine’s illustrations of Muppets as Twin Peaks characters. Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie the Bear take the roles of Special Agent Dale Cooper, Laura Palmer, and the Log Lady, respectively. DeVine’s watercolor drawings include the clothing, scenes, and quotes from David Lynch’s cult classic television show but whose characters are replaced with the gregarious Muppet clan.

If you aren’t familiar with Twin Peaks, it’s a surreal drama that follows the investigation headed by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper into murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer. It takes place in a small town, and explores the facade of small-town values and the seedier layers that lurk beneath it. Pairing this with the happy-go-lucky Muppets creates some strange imagery; not necessarily in the same way as Lynch crafted Twin Peaks, but odd nonetheless.

All of these illustrations are available as prints in DeVine’s InPrnt shop.

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Joe Sorren’s Soft Oil Paintings Capture the Mystery of Childhood

NYC via Arizona artist Joe Sorren creates oil paintings of idyllic children and their soft, forgiving companions. He  shares a similar palette with Dave Cooper, and both artists have also been represented, at one time or another, by the same gallery (Jonathan Levine in Chelsea, NYC). But that’s pretty much where the comparisons end. Where Cooper depicts hedonistic wood-nymphs frolicking in the woods, Sorren places children sitting on a blanket reading a book. The artist’s beautiful paintings show us that there is as much intrigue and mystery in the lighter (and perhaps also sad) elements in in life as there are in the dark, animalistic realm of self-serving greed. Sorren will hold a small solo show in Levine’s project room in December.

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Caleb Brown’s Cultural Allegories

Caleb Brown paints real things — sharks, diving tigers, track stars — in a realistic manner. Deviation lies in the implausible situations he inserts his subjects into. Brown uses what he calls “elements of contemporary life” to set the stage for a bigger, more interesting angle on current events.

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