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Kate MacDowell’s Ghostly Porcelain Sculptures

Porcelain skulls Porcelain vulture Kate MacDowell - Porcelain Kate MacDowell - Porcelain

Artist Kate MacDowell uses porcelain clay to craft her nature-inspired works. MacDowell’s works are realistically sculpted and meticulous. Hollowing out a solid form and building each piece leaf by leaf and feather by feather, she intimately involves herself with the process of building.  The works themselves are beautiful, ghostly white and evoke a very serene feeling. Upon a closer examination, however, things aren’t quite right. A large bird has human hands instead of its normal claws, and an apple has a tiny skull inside of it. Mice have ears on their backs. MacDwell explains in a statement, writing:

In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment.  These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops.  They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones.  In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world.  In others, animals take on anthropomorphic qualities when they are given safety equipment to attempt to protect them from man-made environmental threats.  In each case the union between man and nature is shown to be one of friction and discomfort with the disturbing implication that we too are vulnerable to being victimized by our destructive practices.

The careful construction and fragility of material MacDowell has chosen coincides conceptually with her work. 

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Danielle DeFoe

Danielle DeFoe
Danielle DeFoe, young photographer based in Los Angeles, adores mask fashion and semi awkward teens. I like the sometimes I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude in her photos. She also wrote us a nice postcard with the printed version of the image above which I scanned and is after the jump. It’s a great idea- the photo kind of says to me “I’m coming to get you, watch out you’re going to enjoy it”.

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Hanksy: The Puntastic Street Fartist

Hanksy - Street Art Hanksy - Street Art Hanksy - Street Art

Just when you thought Banksy was the real trickster of the art world, along comes . . . Hanksy, the puntastic street fartist. His use of satire not only challenges the smug, but playfully subverts the current street art standard with a necessary dose of light antagonism.

Check out the video after the jump to see a short documentary about Hanksy’s mysterious persona: his meager “greeting card” beginnings and current mission statement, which centers on a dream of meeting Tom Hanks.

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Catherine Nelson’s Incredible Digital Floating Worlds

Catherine Nelson is a visual artist who uses the digital medium to create orbital worlds of  imaginary landscapes. Her ‘Future Memories’ series comprises of 20 floating worlds, meticulously composed with thousands of assembled details. Visual poetry, nature photography and digital techniques blend together to give shape to these transcendental landscapes. The result is a contemporary pictorial mythology that subtly reminds the viewer of a profound truth: that it is in the flourishing variety of the local that the fate of the world resides.

Trained as a painter in Sydney and London and with years of experience in the creation of visual effects for feature films like Moulin Rouge and Harry Potter, she now has dedicated her skills to her own art work combining the techniques from both these worlds into a new contemporary art medium.

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Nicolas Kubail’s Carrying The Design Torch

I can’t tell you how many times I run across designers who have only a few pieces in their portfolio and don’t have a proper portfolio. If you’re 25 or older and don’t have your act together check out the portfolio of 17 year old designer Nicola Kubail. This young portland based designer is keeping it professional with a cohesive body of work and a clean portfolio site. Keep it going Nicolas!

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Painting And Fashion Photography Meet In The Works Of Jean-Francois Lepage

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Photographer Jean Francois Lepage has been recycling. Lepage is a well known fashion photographer who in recent years has been concentrating on fine art projects. One called “Recycle” uses his fashion photography as background to his painting, drawing and cutting. This presents a kind of superimposed painting onto a photograph which has both modernist and classical references. The works hint at Picasso, Calder and Klee, but also finds new ground in the photo image combined with other mediums. Whereas fashion photography mostly projects a self-absorbed glance, Lepage reinvents these same photographs to look within its subject instead of just on the surface.

In some of the pictures, he draws over the faces to hide the features. This turns the picture into a more abstract form and allows the shapes of his subjects to be seen as free flowing objects instead of just perfect physical specimens selling a product. In others, Lepage renders marks which could be interpreted as word bubbles or strange appendages, sometimes outlining and extending beyond the figure. The colors are bold and primary in some while in others he opts to color over in softer pastel shades. The more intriguing works are those with less coloring and just black outlining which lend a sculptural element.

Lepage finds an agreeable shortcut to the painted image. He finds inspiration in the balance of what is real and imagined.

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Chris Wood’s Dazzling Circular Mandala Installations Made With Coloured Glass

Chris Wood - dichroic glass

Chris Wood - dichroic glass

Chris Wood - dichroic glass

Chris Wood - dichroic glass

Artist Chris Wood likes to exploit the magic of light, and more particularly, the light that passes through glass. Working specifically with Dichroic glass (meaning two color), she installs pieces or shards of the material on walls at different angles, allowing the different color and reflections to play off each other. Arranging the glass in usually geometric, or circular forms, they take on the appearance of futuristic mandalas, or some complex physics experiment. The installations are wildly varied in color, at times the glass is completely transparent and subtle, or can be densely rainbow colored, or even entirely opaque and metallic.

Dichroic glass was actually developed by NASA in the late fifties to protect against harmful effects of direct sunlight and cosmic radiation, and is a very unique material. Due to it’s unique nature, it is a captivating material to work with with unlimited potential. Wood says of her interest in it:

Glass is a material which allows me to exploit the aesthetic potential of light. Minimal structures, support simple arrangements of glass, which interact with light to create complex patterns of light and shade, which change depending upon the position of the viewer and the angle of the light source. (Source)

Wood also works with the Dichroic glass outdoors, setting up quiet installations that play off the reflections and colors of the environment. Favoring water and greenery, she is able to make us look twice at the nature we take for granted around us.

Via The Jealous Curator

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Studio Visit: Noah Becker

Noah Becker graciously allowed Beautiful/Decay into his Canadian studio to view his new body of work.   Becker is about to open a second studio in New York this September for the fall 2012-13 art season.  This is a correspondence studio visit, Beautiful/Decay requested the photos and they were provided by another photographer.  Although the paintings are clearly portraits, Noah describes his newest work as figurative instead of portraiture.   I recognize a few of the faces but generally the paintings aren’t obviously people we should know, and because they aren’t it follows that they can’t be portraits in the traditional meaning of a portrait of a specific person.  Noah presents us with a romantic vision of elegant people, people who are good at living!  Wish I was one of those, ha.  Some of the folks feel like 70s’ rock stars or maybe authors from the 30s’, and I think I recognize some of Velasquez’s Spanish Renaissance princes.  When asked Becker mentions “stillness and time frozen in a moment,” which is a way to talk about the strange nowness of consciousness, or possibly he’s saying the point of modern life is to be elegant in the absence of direction.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, you might as well do nothing with style.

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