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Adam W. Hill’s Amusing Portraits Of People As Dolls

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Adam W. Hill is a photographer whose work centers on the creation of alternative portraiture. This particular series, titled Dollface, explores the effect of doll-like makeup on people of various ages; with heavily rouged cheeks, thick eyebrows, and contoured lips, his subjects are a magnetic (and eerie) combination of adulthood and infancy. Hill has done an excellent job highlighting the brightness and color of their eyes, giving life and vibrancy to an artificial aesthetic. It is fascinating, too, how the models have chosen to express their doll-identities; some look passive and innocent, others playful and mischievous, the rest serious or melancholic.

Peruse Adam’s website, and you’ll see that all of his series explore portraiture in an unconventional way; his subjects are youthful, playful, and sometimes a bit absurd. In his portfolio’s “About Me,” he expresses his views on the historical significance of the portrait, stating how it has traditionally been used “for people of privilege and power, and as a means of affirming the authority of certain individuals” (Source). While he resists this sort of elitist representation, he is also fascinated by the aesthetics of formal portraiture; as a result, his work displays alternative subjects in a quasi-traditional way by infusing them with an appearance of “power and privilege, […] decadence and despair” (Source).

Dollface is an amusing and fascinating example of Adam’s manipulation of photographic tradition. By posing his models in conventional ways, but dressing them with hyperbolic, doll-like makeup, he “plays” with and subverts the elitism behind formal portraiture, thereby producing a commentary on the artificiality of the genre. Check out Adam’s website for more examples of his work.

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Mary Anne Kluth’s Visitor Center

Mary Anne Kluth’s Visitor Center project is a multi-layered series involving ceramic rocks, talks with her geologist father, and detailed dioramas. Here is a description of the project in the artists own words:

My recent work is a conceptual project which began with a simple exercise. I asked my geologist father to describe the formal attributes of his favorite rocks from his collection, which he has been amassing over his entire 40-year career. Then I made ceramic models based only on his descriptions, having no other specific knowledge of the originals. Once I had these ceramic “abstracted rocks”, I then asked my dad to guess which rock sample matched up with which ceramic piece, and got him to tell me basic stories about the places he found each original. I then made dioramas to re-create the scenes he described, and took photographs to document these simulations.

The final presentation is a faux-museum, displaying the c-prints and ceramics alongside the language we used to create them, as well as watercolors made from the original rock samples my dad was thinking of, and infographic paintings elaborating on the ideas and conversations sparked by the process.

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Bing Wright’s Photographs Of Sunsets Look Like Luminous Stained Glass

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Photographer Bing Wright‘s newest project, Broken Mirror/Evening Sky, is a series of images that capture the reflections of sunsets on shattered mirrors. Its colors, textures and overall composition resembles the appearance of luminous stained glass windows. The cracked glass seemingly generates doubled reflections, disjointed gleams and refracted light into shards of images that instantly reminds the viewers of an abstractive painting. The final prints, recently displayed at the Paula Cooper Gallery in NY, are displayed quite large, measuring nearly 4′ across by 6′ tall.

This new body of work is Marks Wright’s first return to color photography in almost a decade.(via Colossal)

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Steve Spazuk’s Drawings Created With Fire

Artist Steve Spazuk creates drawings with a medium usually reserved for destroying things: fire.  Using a candle or torch Spazuk works the flame much like a pencil drawing with the soot left behind on the canvas.  In a way akin to automatic drawing, he doesn’t direct his hand but accepts the chance images  that appear on the surface.  Spazuk then “sculpts” the soot left on each canvas into its final image.  Speaking about his unique flame drawn process he says:

” This in-the-moment creative practice coupled with the fluidity of the soot, creates a torrent of images, shadows and light. Fueled by the quest of a perfect shape that has yet to materialize, I concentrate in a meditative act and surrender to capture the immediacy of the moment on canvas.”

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Art Works Every Time Opening June 12!

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The last month or so we’ve been extremely busy, putting the finishing touches on our “Art Works Every Time” exhibition. We sifted through hundreds of submissions to pick 10 of the most exciting emerging artists around today. Since we teamed up with Colt 45 to present this one of a kind exhibition, we got to brainstorm all kinds of creative giveaways we thought you’d enjoy: free Colt 45, free T-shirts to the first 100 visitors (with Colin Strandberg’s award-winning graphic, above) and even never-before-made (or tasted) Colt 45 ice cream by local fave Scoops! Trust us, it’s delicious.

To top off the night, we’ve invited comedienne Charlyne Yi, who will perform with her band Flesh. Yi’s debut album was produced by none other than Tenacious D, and her live performance has to be seen to be believed!

Whew! Now we just have to hang the show! Can’t wait to see all of you at the opening!

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Elizabeth Zvonar’s Collages And Sculptures Contemplate The Body’s Sexualized Relationship With Advertising

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“Legs”. Digital LightJet print of a hand-cut collage (2007).

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“This A Way”. Porcelain, custom glaze. 4 finger casts, 14″ (2013).

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“Tulip”. Digital LightJet print of a hand-cut collage (2010).

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“Cummy Loubous” (detail). Porcelain, custom glaze. 8.5″ pair of Mary Jane-style stiletto shoes (2013).

Elizabeth Zvonar is a Canadian artist whose collages and sculptures encounter us as objects of curiosity and contemplation. Her choice of mediums is vast, including brass, stone, porcelain, and hand-cut collage, but no matter what she creates, Zvonar’s work is tied together by a consistent style that is tactfully sexual, critically engaged, and subtly humorous. Her motifs include multiplicities of disembodied hands and fingers, magazine cutouts juxtaposing seductive imagery with the silly or strange, and high-fashion objects (such as porcelain high heels) splattered with a suggestive, white glaze. These works grab our attention and activate our minds, and this is precisely their intention. As Zvonar expresses in a fascinating interview with Here and Elsewhere,

“I like to make things strange and interesting to look at in order to engage. My method is tied to how advertising operates. I tend to use sex blatantly or metaphorically, mimicking advertising strategies [and] pushing the image/concept/work into unfamiliar territory.”

In this process of defamiliarization, Zvonar’s works become perceptual exercises in the effects of familiar and manipulative advertising imagery — the types of images that, as Zvonar acutely points out, inundate our waking lives “should one have their eyes open when walking down a street or in line at a grocery store” (Source). By removing idealized bodies and coveted material objects from their usual, seductive contexts and reconfiguring them in a socially aware manner, Zvonar’s creations cleverly critique the way fashion media and advertising operate on us by fragmenting and sexualizing the body.

Check out Zvonar’s website for a larger collection of her works, including a list of past exhibitions. If you’d like to learn more about her artistic themes and creative processes, I highly recommend reading the interview conducted by Here and Everywhere.

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Matt Kaliner’s Beautifully Strange And Gravity-Defying Sandcastles

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Matt Kaliner is a sociology lecturer at Harvard University with a fascinating side project: the construction of elaborate, beautifully strange sandcastles. “Although I study the sociology of art, amongst other things, I have not worked up anything particularly deep about sandcastles,” he told The Atlantic. “I am motivated entirely by the sheer joy of playing on the beach, and making something out of what I can find that day” (Source). Despite his modesty, Kaliner’s creations are remarkable works of art with imposing presences; fortified with sticks and underground braces, they rise powerfully from the sand, twisted and knotted like ancient geological formations.

Despite the tenuous, ever-crumbling nature of sand, Kaliner’s castles are surprisingly formidable; most of them are swallowed by the rising tide rather than knocked down by it. “Curious kids are the No. 1 killers of my sandcastles, which I certainly sympathize with,” Kaliner says good-humouredly. “I would have done the same at that age!” (Source) Whether by nature or meddlesome child, the inevitable destruction of Kaliner’s works makes them transitory works of art; their limited lifespans heightens their beauty and intensifies their presence.

Check out Kaliner’s work on Flickr. More gravity-defying castles after the jump. (Via Booooooom)

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Welcome To The New Beautifuldecay.com

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From the start, Beautiful/Decay has always focused on emerging artist and designers.We dedicated ourselves to promoting the next generation of creatives through our apparel, our magazines, our website, and now our books. Trying to do so much without the luxuries of rich parents, trust funds, and corporate backing has always been a challenge, but we pushed ahead, always striving to do as much as possible to promote our creative community.

We’ve always had a soft side for artists that pushed the envelope, but until recently, I didn’t realize that skateboarding, punk rock, underground comics, zines, and DIY culture so heavily influenced the type of artists feature and collaborate with. Whether exploring Heavy Metal & the occult in Issue S, psychedelia for Issue T, or working with Jim Callahan on a shirt graphic of a 3D barfing skull, we’ve always gone off the beaten path to work with a community of creatives who rebel against the norm and create powerful images that aren’t watered down for the masses.

So, when we sat down to discuss the B/D website 6 months ago, we decided we wanted to redefine the look and feel of the site to pay homage to all of our influences.

So what’s new in the new site you ask? Well, everything! We knew that we wanted to add new social networking features to make it easier to share posts on Twitter and Facebook. You can now like a post or retweet it with one click of a button, located at the bottom of each post. We also wanted you to be able to find various pages easily, so simplifying our navigation and columns was a big project. We’ve managed to minimize the number of pages and menu buttons so that you can easily find the info you need. (Without having to click a hundred different links!)

On the visual side of things, you’ll notice that we have hand lettering peppered through out the site. B/D started as a black and white ‘zine, so what better way to pay homage to our DIY beginnings than to have one of our past featured artists, Kyle Thomas, create a killer hand typeface for the site!

Last but not least, our biggest change is to the B/D shop. For the last year, we had a different website for B/D Apparel, but now Beautifuldecay.com is your one-stop shop for all things Cult Of Decay: from the latest books we’ve released, to new T-shirts from your favorite artists. Not only is our shop now fully integrated into Beautifuldecay.com, but it also allows us to give you better, more personalized service. We know that YOU are our most important asset so we’ve added free shipping options, better discount code functionality, better images, and a whole gang of new features to help with your shopping experience. We’ll be adding new product weekly to the shop and will be doing several promotions to celebrate our relaunch, so get ready for lots of exciting releases from us!

We want you to enjoy this new site as much as we do, so if you have any comments, problems, questions, suggestions or issues let us know in the comment section below! We want to give you a bigger, better Beautiful/Decay so your feedback is important.

Long live the Cult of Decay!

-Amir

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