What would a television see if it could look back at us? Artist Donna Stevens reveals images of children hypnotically looking into a television screen in her series titled Idiot Box. Each photographs captures the entranced look on a child’s face as they gaze on with a zombie-like stare, complete with the glow of the screen lighting up their face. Although this series is somewhat comical, as the children have their mouths hanging open or a silly grimace slapped on, there is a heavy darkness to it. Stevens’s aims to question the role of technology in our society and explore the effects it may have as children are exposed to it at such a young age at such a high volume. Although we can benefit from technology, what is lacking in our lives because of it? Although Idiot Box includes fairly simple images, the affect the vacant eyes have on the viewer is enough to make you stop and think.
Stevens’ incredibly memorable photography explores themes of identity and hardship, as she is interested in people’s journey to find their place in the world. Humanity’s struggles can be found as a theme in her work, both in Idiot Box and in her series Thirteen. In the latter series, she poignantly captures the anxiety and uncertainty that comes along with becoming a woman. Stevens’ ability to encompass such strong emotions and themes in a single portrait is apparent in each photograph. Originally hailing from Australia, the photographer is currently based in Brooklyn, where she continues to create her sharp, thought provoking work.
Danling Xiao is a Sydney-based artist who has started Mundane Matters, a project aimed at coupling fun food sculptures and photography with daily insights and philosophies. The bulk of the project can be seen on Instagram, which is updated daily. The objects she creates range from cute to bizarre—such as a zucchini squid and a grinning, beady-eyed apple—but they all exemplify ingenious ways to recreate and re-represent ordinary objects.
“Is mundanity really mundane?” Danling’s artist statement asks. “Perhaps it is our ignorance?” She argues that by seeing something in a different light, and by allowing ourselves to become curious, we can find joy and creativity in all things. Fruits, vegetables, and the objects they’ve been molded into take on new levels of significance. We become aware of design, and how beauty and utility often arrive together. As Danling suggests, “If we look closer, if we slow down our pace and be more mindful about our inner self and surroundings, we can actually discover a wonderland inside every mundanity.”
Each of Mundane Matters’ posts on Instagram is accompanied by a short write-up, usually updating the viewer on events in Danling’s life. These range from descriptions of dreams, daily practices of overcoming fear, and more general wisdom, such as the importance of nurturing our relationships. Danling’s goal is to spread “humor, creativity, positivity, and stories” through her work, and given Mundane Matters’ beautiful photos and growing social media following, there is no doubt that her art and ideas are connecting with people everywhere.
Bulletica (Bullets + Helvetica) is a free download typeface created by Lucid Mind Designs. Basically it’s Helvetica created from illustrated .22 bullets. It will not be an image font right away, currently it is just a set images including A-Z, 0-9, and some punctuation marks. check it out.
Sonia Rentsch is an art director and still life artist from Melbourne. From intricately arranged appetizers to a hanging lamp fashioned out of a head of lettuce, Rentsch’s work is both dynamic and elegant, often incorporating food as a subject. This trend is put to most effective use in her series Harm Less, an installation in which Rentsch fashioned weaponry out of completely organic objects. Each piece is visually arresting, the imagery of handguns and bullets hauntingly familiar and yet transformed into something beautiful when created out of green produce and plants. The series, in which handguns are made out of everything from bamboo shoots to roses, presents a powerful statement about gun violence and its impact as well as Rentsch’s impeccable eye for detail.
Rentsch has worked with photographer Scott Newett, assisted with design duo Tin and Ed, and worked as the production designer for Australian popstar Kimbra’s music video for “Good Intent”. Her work is consistently bright and colorful, but always proffers a lens through which viewers can fully immerse themselves in the elaborate scenery. One of her most recent projects, a public installation with artist Ben Davis, included a garden of colored pinwheels displayed in Melbourne’s La Trobe Place. Although the meticulous design behind Rentsch’s still life images is evident in each minute detail, Rentsch is assured in working with no set process. As she said in an interview, “An idea comes as quickly as it has to.”
New York based artist William Steinman creates sexy and raw pieces that carry a strong undertone of their source of inspiration: street culture and Pop art. Growing up, he kept himself busy by exploring downtown Phoenix on his skateboard. In doing so, he was introduced to the graffiti art that populated his surroundings, and fell in love with it. Though William was initially inspired, he started to notice how increasingly redundant graffiti was turning out. He decided to focus his artistic endeavors elsewhere, and started to study painting. But first love is always the strongest, and William found himself charmed by the bold lines and appropriated imagery of Pop art.
Observing William Steinman’s paintings and sculptures is the equivalent of trying to stay perfectly still inside a hurricane of motion. He constantly plays with adaptation and reconstruction within an environment of deconstruction. Using found materials, store bought objects, comic books, and finishing them off with industrial glue, the end result is what he likes to accurately describe as “the dark side of Pop.”
William is currently an MFA student over at Queens College in New York City. In a few weeks he will be presenting his bold, raw, and sexy portfolio of work at his MFA Thesis show. Unfortunately, I live much too far and will not be able to attend. However, anyone out there who will be in the area should definitely indulge themselves! Go!
The late and great author Kurt Vonnegut was a visual artist, too. If you’re a fan of his writing, then you probably already knew that drawings by him appear in 1973’s Breakfast of Champions and that he illustrated the cover for Man Without a Country in 2005. But in the mid-1990’s, Vonnegut shipped his daughter Nanette a plethora of drawings. She kept them in her studio’s flatfiles (she’s a visual artist, too) until now, when the artwork was made into a book and is part of a touring exhibition titled Kurt Vonnegut Drawings. The book is published by Monacelli Press and features 145 selections of his work.
Playful line drawings are composed using pen and marker. The abstract and surreal works, in which things transform and morph to become something other than themselves, include fragments of the written word. One drawing includes a steep set of stair and muses, “There is a ceiling on human thoughts.” Other wordless works often include a minimalist portrait or figure. They are free-flowing images that feel like a stream of consciousness.
The published book includes essays written by his daughter and scholar (and Vonnegut friend) Peter Reed. He writes, “great value of this collection is that Vonnegut’s artwork gives us another perspective on his restless imagination and his creative genius. … There are constraints in writing that even the iconoclastic Vonnegut felt, but in his art he seems wholly uninhibited.” (Via Hyperallergic)