Project H designers Heleen De Goey and Dan Grossman have completed the construction of the first Learning Landscape math playground at the Kutamba School for AIDS Orphans in Southern Uganda. After nearly 3 weeks on site, they have finished the grid’s construction, and have been tirelessly working with the teachers and students on the implementation and adaptation of the games: “Around The World,” “Match Me,” and others, which teach elementary math concepts. The playground even integrates a bench system for added functionality as outdoor seating or assembly space.
Amazing! Shapes and forms manifest into spatial learning tools. A nice step away from the flatness of textbooks and computer screens. If only there were more of these in the States.
Perhaps the digital artwork of Antonio Strafella isn’t so profane as it may at first seem. His series Spiritual Hero at once compares and juxtaposes saints and superheroes, the holy and the vulgar. Comic books are often thought of as the exclusive domain of young people, rarely taken serious. However, in a strange way the superheroes don’t seem exceptionally out of place in Strafella’s work. Indeed, many of the grand story lines of the characters featured by Strafella have clear Biblical references. He goes on to say:
“These icons have various aspects in common: saints do miracles and superheroes have superpowers, both are venerated, opening the conflict between faith and zealotry.”
Bara Prasilova‘s photography is both playful and disturbing. She uses soft pastels with pops of neon color to evoke feelings of nostalgia and innocence; simultaneously, she hints at themes of restraint and constriction. In her project for the Hasselblad Masters Book, she’s chosen to explore the theme of “evolve.” Her prop of choice is hair: a natural material that she portrays in a surreal and absurd fashion.
In one photograph, a woman jumpropes with a long Rapunzel-esque whip of hair; in another, a thick braid wrapped around a woman’s neck looks suffocating yet elegant. Prasilova explains:
“Through my photographs, I have been trying to understand human relationships and connections: long hair symbolises the invisible strings we use to strap somebody to us or, perhaps, the opposite, to let somebody loose. They are the threads of our emotions, worries and fears that we are afraid to loosen like hair.” (via I Need a Guide)
Paul Loubet’s illustrations remind me of brightly colored Pinatas full of small treats, fun, mouth watering surprises. The above illustration is my favorite out of the bunch. Would make a nice addition to my collection of artist postcards and prints.
Keetra Dean Dixon has a treasure chest of innovative projects. Made from silk velvet, “The Great Slumber A.K.A. Blood Puddle Pillows” is, in her words, “inspired by those suspenseful moments when a sleeping loved one is a little too still for a little too long”; these humorous pillows parallel sleep and death.
I’ve also gathered a few of her neat type creations, a hug-worthy performance piece, and a blanket that does more than keep its user warm.
Dutch artist Ruud Van Empel is following in the footsteps of his Flemish ancestors and is creating some pretty confronting portraits. He digitally collages images of innocent, wide eyed children into environments of lush, hyper-colored, tropical forests, ponds and gardens. While his pictures are in no doubt beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, there is definitely something unsettling about them. The children seem a bit out of place – staring a bit too intensely at the camera as if they were possessed or hypnotized. Everything seems a bit too perfect, a bit too beautiful.
Van Empel sometimes spends weeks collating images from multiple sources to build one digital portrait. The reason his portraits seem so weird is because they are pictures of people that don’t really exist. This is a bit of an insight into his process:
First he collects all the features he needs by shooting a variety of young models in his studio and by subsequently wandering through Dutch forests, in search of fine leaves, perfect branches and the right waters. Only to tear it apart and spend weeks reconstructing it all until both the person and the setting match his desired standard of photo-realism. (Source)
It can also not go unnoticed that a majority of the kids in Van Empel’s photography are black. The artist himself grew up in a small Dutch village with a large white population. He speaks more about this influencing his work:
I grew up in a small Catholic town in the south of the Netherlands. There was only one black boy in my primary school class. In the portrait Generation 1 I expressed this situation. It shows a white class with just one black pupil. With World#1 I decided to work with more black children. It set off a whole new series of work. First I thought of portraying a girl in a dirty, old and torn-up dress, as if she were very poor. I suppose this idea popped up in my head because of the image we westerners are often given. I didn’t really like that idea though, and decided to give them the clothes my generation wore when we were kids, especially because those clothes looked very innocent to me. (Source)
Working out of Melbourne, Australian photographer Jessica Tremp produces some lovely creative pieces. Her technique is rather dusty, as if her work was produced some sixty years ago; complementing her taxidermic subjects and derelict settings. Each piece impresses the viewer with unsettling beauty.
Leonard White and collaborator Ryan Rogers combine forces to become UK-based ROBOTS>>>. ROBOTS>>> does, in fact, make wonderfully giant robots that are created out of cardboard and scrap metal, and then photographed very beautifully.