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Poignantly Raw Photographs Show An Uncensored Motherhood

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The photographer Elinor Carucci’s recent series Mother reads like a visual diary of the pains and pleasures of motherhood, a raw and uncensored confessional of love and a complex relationship to the female body. Within the aesthetic framework of more traditional portrayals of the mother, she highlights the visceral and bodily with romantic reverence.

Carucci relies in part upon the image of the art historical Virgin Mary, mirroring Renaissance paintings in which the virgin clasps the child in her lap, his soft baby limps coiled around her abdomen. Similarly, a strange and beautiful self-portrait features the artist in a hospital bed, a mysterious and seemingly divine light shone directly over her womb. With symmetry evocative of Renaissance art, her newborn twins nurse at her breasts, each head resting on a pillow of deep blue characteristic of the virgin.

Mother transforms our understanding of the divine, expanding it to apply to real, mortal women, our bodies and our fears. Unlike Mary, our protagonist is not a virgin; instead, her sexuality is the source of her creative energy; her milky breasts are shown alongside the vulva, her stretch marks and scars creating s subtle cross in the center of her torso. Her daughter, appropriately named Eden, sneaks a look down her mother’s underwear, marveling at the beauty and power of the genital area with moving innocence, her face bathed in light.

With the beauty of life and love comes the poignant fact of growing up and innocence lost. As the girl’s hair is cut, her green eyes are stricken with fear, the bothersome remains of lost hair littering her face. Similarly, a child bears a wound, which swells painfully from her lip like a ripe pomegranate seed; during bath time, she wriggles from her mother’s arms, shot in relative darkness, desperate to return to a state of play. Take a look. Mother is currently on display at New York’s Edwynn Houk Gallery. (via Beautiful Is Now and Feature Shoot)

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Benjamin Oliver – In Search of Our Senses

Benjamin Oliver, a recent graduate of the Royal College of Art’s Design Interactions program explores the space between our everyday experiences, inventing prototypes that can give participants a way to experience all new senses. I love the approach Benjamin took in framing his experiments – By creating photographs with such rich narrative, the artist leaves behind a series of bizzarre rooms in which these sensory objects supposedly underwent a round of testing.

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These Aren’t Your Grandma’s Embroideries: Alaina Varrone’s Erotic Stitching

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Alaina Varrone is a embroidery artist who, according to her, was born to a family of weirdos and storytellers. She uses this natural inclination to tell tales using thread which are often explicit and erotic in nature. We see naked men and women, sexual acts, and general kinkiness stitched into cotton fabric. Sometimes, Varrone will use delicate-looking floral patterns that add to the delightful absurdity of her work.

Typically, embroidery is seen as a craft, and an activity that’s a favorite among grandmothers (although it does have a thriving community of younger folks). It’s content is generally seen as inoffensive and family-friendly. Varrone has turned this convention on its head by sewing scenes that that are anything but. Her characters go after their desires and fantasies, creating an amusing juxtaposition between how we’re used to seeing embroidery versus all of its possibilities. (Via Juxtapoz)

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Photographer Swallows 35mm Film, Allows Digestive Fluids To Create Astounding Images

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In an unusual attempt to explore their own digestive tracts, student artists Luke Evans and Joshua Lake swallowed single frames of 35mm film, folding each piece in a brightly colored capsule that allowed for the acids and bodily fluids to process the film with minimal risk of colon damage. Once excreted, the negatives were recovered, cleaned, and studied in detail by an electron microscope; ultimately, they were printed into giant black and white works.

The project, titled “I turn myself inside out” is an almost uncomfortably intimate and human exploration of the photographic medium. Normally, images are produced and processed by machinery, light, and chemicals, but this provocative series substitutes the artists’ own bodies and their fluids for the impersonal metal gears and glass lens of a camera.

The images themselves are so strong because of their unexpected three-dimensionality; while most film photographs flatten space, condensing foregrounds and background to create a compelling work of art, Evans and Lake’s work does the opposite. Each frame looks like a scientific image taken from a microscope. The digestive process and the resultant breakdown of the film’s emulsion afford each image its dimensionality, transcending the medium’s traditional reliance on light and shadow to convey space.

The most miraculous aspect of the work lies perhaps in the tension that arises between the intimate and vulnerable bodily process and the somewhat impersonal aesthetic of the resultant images. Once printed, the images become abstract explorations of tone and space, their apparently inhuman, unemotional form subverted only by the knowledge of their painfully visceral creation. What do you think: gross or cool? (via Wired and Oddity Central)

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Wasted Rita

I have a soft side for artists and designers who emerge from the punk rock/DIY scene. It’s probably because I grew up going to punk shows, making zines, and not fitting in with my own boring suburban surroundings . So when I opened my inbox and saw the work of Wasted Rita I immediately was drawn into her world of teen angst and brutal honesty. It reminded me of the same energy my friends and I had when we first started Beautiful/Decay. Thanks for keeping the dream alive Rita!

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Courtney Woodliff

Courtney Woodliff, Painting

Courtney Woodliff‘s paintings combine ideas of industrialism and the rigorous daily lives of the women in them. As mechanical and organic forms intertwine, they metaphorically and physically become one. They struggle one another to define who is in control, the cold machine or the human that wields it.

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Robert Therrien’s Enlarged Domestic World

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Robert Therrien recontextualizes everyday images and objects by exaggerating them. His larger-than-life sculptures of tables, chairs, and dishware offer viewers an alternative perspective of these usually mundane and overlooked domestic elements. Therrien’s work simultaneously validates and absurdifies these simple objects by calling attention to their existence. In addition to enlarging items, Therrien also warps them or physically places them in a thoughtful context, commenting on the boundaries of the functionality, design, and purpose of these simple objects and images. Accompanying the inorganic images are organic ones, such as a 51 inch tall beard and a 47 inch long stork beak with bundle. Therrien has lived in Los Angeles since 1971.

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The Paper Art and Design of Maud Vantours

Designer and artist Maud Vantours works primarily in paper.  Using intricate cutting and layering techniques Vantours creates highly detailed pieces.  In this way, she also transforms an especially two dimensional medium into a three dimensional work with depth.  In addition to her paper art, Vantours has worked with high-profile clients such as Yves Saint Laurent, Lancôme, and Guzzini.  She’s incorporated her elements of her paper art work into designs ranging from food presentation to home decor.

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