Joe Rudko is a talented artist based in Washington state. In his current series he combines found photographs with his drawings. According to his artist statement: “These works are responses to a shifting relationship with found photographic objects. Collaging a vintage material with hand drawn addendums exposes the vulnerability of the static image.” Check out more images after the jump.
Zachary Stadel covers unexpected objects with globular and surprisingly tactile dobs of paint, laying bare paint as pigment and object, and throwing its use to create illusionist realism out the window. His objects sort of remind me of Allison Schulnik’s work in their beyond-impasto application of paint. These sculptures somehow transform paint into sculpture, and sculptures into paintings…inhabiting a lovely middle-realm of shape-shifting.
Quite often the saying of fact being stranger than fiction is true, and this story is no exception. Photographer Arthur Drooker has been attending the most unusual conventions around America and compiling the images into a series called Conventional Wisdom. He recently attended a celebration of mermaids and mermen at The Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, North Carolina. Over 300 Merfolk attended Merfest this year, and Drooker was there to capture this wondrous and enchanting subculture.
This year the participants were able to attend workshops on breath-holding, underwater modelling, talk to a professional mermaid, and purchase different mermaid accessories – tails made from fabric and silicon (and ranged in price from $80 – $4000 for a custom made tail).
For many attendees, the desire to be a mermaid was spawned in childhood after seeing a movie, reading a book, going to the beach or an aquarium. A mermaid embodied an idealized self: beautiful, graceful and confident. To emulate a mermaid one developed a mersona, akin to the fursona that a furry at Anthrocon inhabits to model an animal character s/he aspires to be like. (Source)
For most Merfolk the transformation that happens when they either pull on their costume, or the moment they enter the water is something that cannot be compared to in any other way. Christian Obrocki, a merman from Baltimore tells Drooker of his experience:
It’s a rush. What better way to be in touch with your love for the water than to be kind of a part of it. When the tail goes on, the human side goes out the door. (Source)
Drooker’s other series include his visits to Clown conventions, gatherings of Santas, an assembly of Ventriloquists, a meeting of Furries, and a Bronies meet-up. See the other sets here. (Via Cool Hunting)
Minneapolis born John Lurie is a jack of all trades. He was originally a musician, playing sax in NYC no wave group Lounge Lizards. Later, in the 1980s, he moved on to acting, having a number of memorable roles in Jim Jarmusch movies like Down By Law. Mostly recently however, and especially since isolating himself due to what seems to be Lyme disease, Lurie has been a painter, creating dark, absurdist works with unusual titles. If you like his work, I recommend adding him on Facebook. His online updates are little gems of black humor, just like his paintings.
Inspired by Ansel Adams and evocative of the past, the incredible work of New York-based photographer Mitch Dobrowner portrays sublime, monumental scenes of nature. Rendered in stark black-and-white and beautifully composed, his photographs are undoubtedly aesthetically alluring. Surprisingly, however, the story behind the visually captivating works is even more moving.
Raised in Long Island, Dobrowner struggled with his identity and purpose as a teenager. In response to this apparent lack of direction and sense of self, his father offered him “an an old Argus rangefinder to fool around with.” After researching photography and tinkering with his camera, Dobrowner was hooked. Shortly thereafter, at the age of 21, he left home and embarked on a journey to explore the American Southwest–a theme that which would eventually materialize as a major motif in his oeuvre.
After meeting his wife in California, Dobrowner set his photography aside in order to settle down, raise a family, and operate a business. Although his photographic career reached a plateau lasting several years, he was inspired to reacquaint himself with the craft again in 2005. Rather than stagnating his zeal or hindering his success, however, his break from photography, if anything, added fuel to his fire. He explains:
“Today I see myself on a passionate mission to make up for years of lost time – creating images that help evoke how I see our wonderful planet.”
And, with his snapshots of swirling storm clouds, harrowing canyons, and towering landmasses, both his passion and perspective remain undeniabily apparent.
Melbourne based artist Casey Jenkins is a self-described “craftivist” who founded Craft Cartel, an organization that seeks to combine crafting and political activism, in 2007. “Craft imbues you with power because you’re forced to contemplate the issue you’re addressing. It’s very reflective in a sense of when you put that message out into the world, people know you must really care because you’ve devoted that much time to it,” Jenkins says.
Jenkins’ most recent performance project, “Casting Off My Womb” (Aussie TV calls it “Vaginal Knitting”) involves the artist spending 28 days (the average length of a menstrual cycle) knitting from a new skein of wool that she has placed inside of her vagina each day. Jenkins explains that her performance would not be a performance if she didn’t include menstruation. While she is menstruating, Jenkins says it becomes more difficult to knit because the wool is wet, and she has to tug on the thread a bit harder. Overall, though, she claims the process is slightly uncomfortable, but can also be arousing at times. For Jenkins, she enjoys that her performance associates the vulva – something that can be found offensive or vulgar or invoke a level of fear – with the comfort and warmth that knitting provides and evokes.
“The fact that [cunt’s] considered the most offensive word in the English language is a real marker of the time that we’re living and of the society’s attitude towards woman. There’s nothing possibly negative about it. It’s just a deep, warm and delightful part of the female anatomy.”
As Gawker notes, this performance is reminiscent of other feminist performance pieces like Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece,” Carolee Schneeman’s “Internal Scroll,” or even Mary Kelly’s pre- and post-partum documents, so Jenkins is not necessarily a trailblazer in the context of this aesthetic; however, that fact that pieces like this still shock and provoke viewers means that there is still much work to be done in the movement to empower women and destigmatize female anatomy. (via gawker and broadsheet)
Four years ago, photographer Jamie Diamond bought a hyperrealistic doll known as a Reborn baby off eBay, and this purchase lead her to a project spanning nearly two years. Called Mother Love, the series blurs the lines between real and unreal, living and the inanimate.
To make this project possible, Diamond collaborated with an outsider art community called the Reborners. They’re a group of self-taught female artists who hand-make, collect, and interact with these dolls. They hold them, dress them, wash their hair, and take them for walks in the park. “After spending a year investigating and recording their practice,” Diamond writes in an artist statement, “I chose to become a Reborner to gain a better understanding of the community.” Diamond continues:
In Nine Months of Reborning, I reborned dolls and constructed a working nursery in my studio and on eBay, called the Bitten Apple Nursery. Before putting the dolls up for adoption on eBay, I photograph each one using a large format camera, the image becomes the remnant of this exchange.
Creating the dolls was a laborious process. Some required up to 80 individual layers of painting, veining, blushing mottling, and toning, cured with heat. Strands were individually attached to the scalp. The dolls were weighted properly so that they feel like a real baby when held in someone’s arms.
The Amy Project followed this construction. “I invited celebrated Artists from the community to individually interpret and idealize the same doll,” Diamond writes. “I then photograph each doll mimicking vernacular school portraits. Each of the dolls are unique to their maker’s hand, but share an uncanny similarity through their common origin.”
Diamond no longer calls herself a Reborner, and plans to sell the remaining dolls on eBay (although she might keep one for herself).
Working with the Reborn community has allowed me to explore the grey area between reality and artifice where relationships are constructed with inanimate objects, between human and doll, artist and artwork, uncanny and real. I have been engaged with this community now for four years and while working and learning from these women, I’ve become fascinated by the fiction and performance at the core of their practice and the art making that supports their fantasy. (Via Hyperallergic)
Whether it’s hand painted, collaged, and/or sewn together, Jenny Toth imaginatively entwines colorful drawings of the animal kingdom to meditate on a sometimes humorous, and always surreal study of the female condition.
Of her work, Toth states, “For many years I have been intrigued by the way women artists choose to depict themselves. Like many other artists, my view dramatically differs from a historical approach to the female model. I choose to include elements not traditionally viewed as beautiful—for example, a deformed toe, hairy legs, unkempt hair. However I have no interest in shocking the viewer, but seek to share my honest, uncensored observations. I have always been allergic to pretense and slickness.”