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African American Artist Stacey Tyrell’s Powerful Self-Portraits Portraying Her As Her White Ancestors

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At first glance, this series by photographer Stacey Tyrell seems to portray nothing out of the ordinary, just portraits of white women living their lives. At closer inspection, however, you realize all of the women look the same; they share uncanny similarities with just a few differences in hair, eye, and skin color. In reality, Stacey Tyrell has staged these scenes representing depictions of Caucasian women using herself as a model. Interestingly enough, the artist herself is black. The title of Tyrell’s deeply memorable series is Backra Bluid. Backra, originating from West Africa, means white master or person. Bluid is a Scotch word for the blood of men or kin. These two words combined represent two different points of origin in the artist’s family heritage. Tyrell explores her ancestry in this series, which includes English, Scottish, and Irish.

Most everyone in post-colonial societies, especially in the Western world, is the descendant of a diverse range of ancestry, producing many individuals with what may appear to be ambiguous ethnicities. These individuals may identify with one, multiple, or even none of their racial or cultural identities. However, by nature, humans want to make sense of their surrounding and tend to place others in categories. Stacey Tyrell has experienced this first hand. She explains the significance of this experience in relation to Backra Bluid.

Upon viewing my physical features I am automatically assigned a racial identity by whoever is looking at me. Skin color often obscures and over-rides the features and markers of other races that may be present in my genetic make-up. By simply changing my skin color and making subtle tweaks to my features I wish to show that if someone were to take a closer look at my face they would see that it might not be that much different from their own.

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Isobelle Ouzman Turns Discarded Books Into Sculptural Works Of Art

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Illustrator Isobelle Ouzman upcycles would-be discarded books into sculptural works of art. She cuts back the pages and draws nature scenes that together, create an alluring new narrative. The primarily black-and-white images have spots of color added to them, and they hearken the viewer into this special place.Ouzman calls her creations Altered Books.

Using an X-acto knife, Micron pens, watercolor paint, and a lot of love, Ouzman breathes new life into these objects. “Every book that I alter was found by a dumpster in Seattle, a recycling bin, a thrift store, or was given to me by someone who no longer wants it,” she writes. “Rather than have these discarded books sit out in the rain or in some store to gather dust, I’m striving to make good use of them. I love books very much and would never carve into one that was valuable. I just want to give them a new life and a second chance to mean something again.

Ouzman takes commissions on these Altered Books in her Etsy shop. (Via Hi Fructose)

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Gavin Munro Plants Trees That Grow Into Furniture

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Carpenter, furniture designer and innovator Gavin Munro is heading a project called Full Grown that is achieving incredible things. He and his team have an ambitious and revolutionary idea of growing trees around frames and supports that will shape them into chairs, tables, mirror frames, and light shades. The process takes a few years, but ultimately saves on labor and time when it comes to chopping, harvesting, sanding, polishing and finishing the furniture.

The idea for Full Grown started when, as a young boy, Munro saw an overgrown bonsai tree that looked remarkably like a chair. In a strange twist of fate, he then needed a back brace to help straighten his spine. With the time to mull over a few things, he put these different experiences together with his expertise in furniture making to try something new.

It’s where I learnt patience. There were long periods of staying still, plenty of time to observe what was going on and reflect.  It was only after doing this project for a few years a friend pointed out that I must know exactly what it’s like to be shaped and grafted on a similar time scale. (Source)

So treating wood the same way his own bones were treated, he experimented with growing different prototypes. After a couple of attempts with willow trees, Munro now has almost 3,000 trees growing into furniture on 2.5 acres. The first pieces will be ready in Spring 2016 and you can pre order different pieces here. Obviously, each piece is unique and unrepeatable, all marked and with a Certificate of Provenance. Ultimately Munro hopes to achieve a new understanding of wood and it’s brilliance.

I hope that our work highlights what it takes to make the objects we surround ourselves with, and that no one looks at trees in quite the the same way again. (Source)

(Via The Creator’s Project)

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Child-Sized Mannequins With Projected Faces Portray Displacement In The Photographs Of Ursula Sokolowska

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If you had a sad childhood and wanted to make art about it look no further. Urusla Sokolowska has already done it for you. Taking child-sized mannequins and projecting images of her young face onto to them she explores the displacement and alienation she felt as a kid immigrating to the US from her native Poland. In her series The Constructed Family her messages are subtly and darkly humorous. By placing the figure in locations which do not hold cheerful memories for Sokolowska, we are reminded that art does indeed have cathartic powers and is a positive way to confront our demons. Her locations speak for themselves; a basement, a lonely street corner, a neighbor’s house, an alleyway, a bed. These domestic scenes which provoke unhappy memories are powerfully done from the perspective of an innocent child. Displacement is a serious feeling and perhaps even worse for a child who doesn’t have much control over their situation.

In moody dim lit photos, Sokolowska projects what she remembers from that time. Titles give hints but to the observer it’s clearly obvious what she’s thinking. We always hear about happy childhoods or outright abusive childhoods. Rarely do we hear about sad childhoods caused by normal occurrences that happen to families every day. Sokolowska brings this new dynamic to life with her powerful thought provoking images.

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Lorraine Loots’ Microscopic Watercolor Paintings Of The Cosmic Universe The Size Of Your Thumbnail

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Can you imagine trying to fit images of the cosmic universe into a circle only an inch, inch and a half wide? Artist Lorraine Loots accomplishes this with nothing more than watercolors and an incredible eye for detail. Watercolor is known for its unpredictable nature and organic qualities. Being able to control this medium in a realistic manner in such a small space speaks volumes to Loots artistic skill.  She renders her miniatures paintings on themed days throughout the year, completion date included.

In the series titled Microcosm Mondays, extremely tiny watercolor paintings depicting celestial images of outer space are created, one of which is a reference to a real photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. This project gives us other equally clever names, each with their own mini-series. These include Tiny Tuesdays, Free Fridays, and with a play on words, Fursdays. Each series having a different theme, guess what this artist draws on Fursdays… cute little furry animals! All so incredibly detailed, down to the last hair and whisker. Each series is drawn on different days of the week, and at the end of the year, a total of 100 microscopic paintings will be completed. What makes Loot’s small masterpieces even more fun is that once one is completed, it is auctioned off on Instagram! So now there not only an element of surprise what day she will post her delicate piece, but also a factor of chance as you bid to have one for yourself. Don’t miss the action and check out Loots Instagram here. (via MyModernMet)

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Dan McPharlin’s Sci Fi Illustrations Of Past FUtures

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Dan McPharlin
 is an illustrator who is concerned with the “future past or past future,” as he notes on his webpage. His artwork live in a realm of speculative reality, where space is the final frontier — or perhaps the first of a civilization beginning to rebuild itself.
There are dystopian touches in his illustrations: in one, an astronaut gazes on temple ruins; in another, we see the haggard remnants of a bridge that looks like it used to be golden. It’s a little reminiscent of the final scenes of Planet of the Apes, a familiar monument from a world long lost. McPharlin’s work utilizes rich colors that are once neon yet muted. His palette is one that includes the golden rod yellow of futuristic smog as well as the earth tones of somewhere decidedly not-Earth. There is certainly a quality of nostalgia to his work, though for what, we don’t necessarily know.
“These are the worlds of dreams and half-memories,” McPharlin says on his webpage. “The collision zone of past-futures and futures-past, derived from blueprints laid down decades earlier on the pages of battered sci-fi paperbacks, fantasy art books, and mid-century design quarterlies.” (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)

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BARE USA: Photographer Brian Cattelle’s Nation-Wide Project Contrasts Nude Beauty With Manmade Decay

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Searsboro Consolidated School (Searsboro, IA)

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Brian Cattelle is an American photographer who has embarked on a nation-wide project to photograph one nude model in each of the USA’s 50 states. Driving his concept is an exploration of the contrast between natural, nude beauty, and the decay of manmade environments; explore his current collection, and you will see female figures integrated within architectural wastelands, the black and white tones highlighting the illumination of soft skin amidst shadowy, shattered rubble. Entitled BARE USA, the project emerged from Cattelle’s desire to challenge himself and his work. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, he explained:

“I wanted to tackle a project that would prove I was able to work with models in often difficult and uncomfortable situation. I wanted to show I was willing to go to any lengths to get a great shot. I also wanted to show the level of organization, execution, and dedication I was capable of. It seems that my initial intention was to prove these points to others, but in the end the true reward was proving them to myself.”

Part of what makes Cattelle’s project so imaginative and emotionally evocative is his approach to abandoned places. “People often express sadness about some of these great abandoned structures,” Cattelle observed. “They don’t make me feel sad. Change is change […]. I do find myself captivated by a sense of awe and wonder when I soak in my surroundings. I think about how much effort went in to building these places, how much work took place here, and how quickly that can be lost.” By incorporating nude models, Cattelle reinvests desolate spaces with hope and optimism for the future. As he concludes, “I think my work is important because I am creating art and bringing something beautiful to this world by injecting new life into these dead and forgotten structures.”

Last summer, Cattelle completed successful shoots in 30 states, and is working on completing the final 20. If you like his concept, check out his Kickstarter project. There, you can learn more, make a pledge, and receive beautiful fine art prints in return. Visit Cattelle’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see more of his work and follow him on his journey.

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Sophie Derrick’s Colorful, Layered Self Portraits Created By Painting Directly Onto Her Skin

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British artist Sophie Derrick paints directly onto her skin and adds colorful layers of swirling pigment to her face and neck. Once she’s completed it, she’ll photograph the result and then paint onto that image. The result is a multi-layered, textured portrait that gives the viewer an incredible sense of depth. Derrick’s painting style is abstract – focusing on bright pinks, blues, oranges, and more – and she’ll vary how the paint is applied. It often looks like she uses a palette knife to make thick, frosting-like strokes, but she’ll also use the paint tube to draw lines on the skin.

“I have a great interest in the materiality and substance of paint, and execute this interest through photography, creating a juxtaposition of the two mediums,” Derrick writes. “My body becomes the canvas for the paint, questioning the traditional concept of painting and portraiture, and the barriers between painting and photography. The body becomes both object and subject in the work.” (Via Art Fucks Me)

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