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Amy Santoferraro’s Sculptures Assembled From Everyday Objects

Amy Santoferraro - Assemblage Amy Santoferraro - Assemblage

Amy Santoferraro - Assemblage

You know those silica gel packets? The kind you find in a new pair of shoes or in a coat pocket? As a kid, Amy Santoferraro used to collect them as if they were something precious. She would organize and catalog them, which was a sign of things to come. Today, collecting is the heart of Santoferraro’s sculptural work.

Some interests never die; they just find new ways to reinvent themselves in our lives. Just as Santoferraro coveted tiny packets of poison as a child, as an adult she’s amassed objects that would usually be discarded. She has built a body of work around something that’s her natural inclination. From her artist statement:

Like every toddler, I play with what I am given. Fascinated by numbers, colors, objects, and shiny things, I rowdily rummage through thrift stores and flea markets like toy boxes tearing through objects whose usefulness has been exhausted and awaits deliverance to a new imagined life.

 

Santoferraro’s series, BaskeTREE, uses cheap, everyday items and transforms them into small landscapes and scenes. She hand picks objects that resonate with her, either because of nostalgia, beauty, or usefulness. She tinkers with them until the sculpture feels right. The result is a transformation and change of context. Because these cheap items went from being discarded  (one man’s trash is truly another’s treasure here), and placed in the realm of art object, their perceived value is much greater. These assemblages now exist on a higher level of craft and concept than just a plastic flower, basket, and fly swatter has individually.

Santoferraro describes her work as “silly connections that develop from my making and thought processes.” That’s part of the appeal; they might remind us of childhood.  Even if they don’t, the parts of the sculpture reveal a lot about socioeconomic status, and about how and where we grew up. The sum of each sculpture is not only a playful scene, but a snapshot of a society.

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Polygon Playground

not a new song by AIR, but might as well be.

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Suzanna Zak

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Since I started Beautiful/Decay while attending the Maryland Institute College Of Art I have a soft spot for artists working in Baltimore. There’s something about living Baltimore (see “The Wire” for more on that) that changes you and your artwork forever. Baltimore is a giant pot of crazy that just seeps into your work and wont let go. Keep up the good work Suzanna and make us Alums proud!

Check out Suzanna’s Flickr account here and her portfolio over here.

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Urban Camouflage- 3D Objects Replaced With 2-D Images

In French photographer Fred Lebain‘s series “Spring in New York”, the artist visited various sites around New York City, photographed them, and then returned to these sites with a large-scale print of his photographs. By lining the landscape and the photo up perfectly, he creates a cheeky illusion which is often given away by a corner of the poster curling up, or the print shifting in the wind. Turning the 3-D world into a 2-D image brings light to the incredible amount of detail in each composition, and to the fact that recreating these scenes perfectly is impossible, especially in a landscape as dynamic as New York City. Lebain also reminds us that our surroundings are temporary and ever-changing, as minute details between his photographs and their surroundings indicate. By the time Lebain has printed his image, the landscape has already changed. Each moment in life is unique and will never happen exactly the same way again. His work is also reminiscent of another urban camoflague master – Liu Bolin, a Bejing artist who paints himself into his surroundings, rendering his body almost completely invisible.

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Prayer Nuts Carved To Incredible Detail Will Have You In Disbelief

16th Century Prayer Nuts

16th Century Prayer Nuts

16th Century Prayer Nuts

If you think carving a pumpkin is challenging, wait until you see the “prayer nuts” made by Dutch artists in the 16th century. These small, neurotically detailed treasures were carved from a single nut to resemble religious scenes. Each nut holds a spectacularly complex scene that contains a numerous amount of characters to construct religiously important events such as the crucifixion. All of this amazingly crafted imagery is inside a nut that is only a few inches in diameter! Not only are the interiors of the nuts carved into a fine detail, but the outsides are elaborately carved as well. The exterior shell of each nut features a decorative design carved into it, which is revealed once the prayer nut is closed. This way, whether the nut is open or closed, it shows off its stunning design.

Artisans created these delicate masterpieces during the Middle Ages so that individuals could use them privately when they pray. They were small enough to be carried in a person’s pocket and beautiful enough to hang on a rosary. Because the prayer nuts such took incredible skill, not to mention an unbelievably steady hand, only the wealthy and powerful could afford them. Because of this, they also became a social status of wealth. The same thing can be said about many products in contemporary society. Possessing something expensive that creates a convenience to you and can also fit in your pocket – this is not unlike the modern day smart phone. Valuable and beautifully crafted items are still in high demand today. However, these 16th century prayer nuts are much more rare than the latest iphone. They can be found in museum collections all over the world including the British Museum in London and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.(via Juxtapoz)

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Holi – the Festival of Colors

More than anything, these photos just made me want to travel and for lack of a better word, experience. They’re from a variety of sources, check out The Boston Globe for all their credits. Holi is celebrated in India as a welcoming of Spring, and a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. What that translates to in action is an enthusiastic dropping of inhibitions, as people chase each other and playfully splash colorful paint, powder and water on each other. People also attend bonfires to commemorate the story of Prahlada, a Hindu figure and devout follower of Lord Vishnu who prevailed over his father and the demoness Holika with the power of his devotion.

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Anna Schuleit’s Installation Of 28,000 Flowers Inside A Mental Health Center

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With spring around the corner I can’t help but think about flowers, which led me to consider Anna Schuleit’s installation Bloom, 2003, a site-specific installation at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston.  Though now over ten years old I feel the idea that art and beauty can heal is a powerful and ever-relevant concept.  The installation consisted of over 28,000 flowers, 5,600 square feet of live sod and recorded sound that played over the old public service announcement system.  The flowers and sod filled four floors of the historic building and the basement hallways.

The building, which was slated for demolition, had a long and complicated history, having hosted thousands of patients and employees over the years.  Struck by the absence of both life and color after visiting the site, Schuleit conceived of BLOOM, reinvigorating the building with an impressive display of flowers and transforming it into a fantasy world for four days.  After the installation Schuleit had the flowers donated to half-way houses and psychiatric hospitals throughout New England.  As she said of the installation in her interview with Colossal, “I wanted these flowers to continue onward, after the installation. Bloom was a reflection on the healing symbolism of flowers given to the sick when they are bedridden and confined to hospital settings. As a visiting artist I had observed an astonishing absence of flowers in psychiatric settings. Here, patients receive few, if any, flowers during their stay. Bloom was created to address this absence, in the spirit of offering and transition.”

Check out more of Schuleit’s work at her website and read the full interview with her here. All images copyright Anna Schuleit.

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Klaus Enrique Recreates Arcimboldo’s 400 Year Old Organic Portraits

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New York City based artist Klaus Enrique constructs portraits based on painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s 400 year old work that features human figures with features represented by images of plant, fruit, or other organic elements. Enrique was inspired to create these portraits while photographing a human eye peeking out of leaves. He thought he could use leaves to construct facial features or masks. After some research, Enrique discovered Arcimboldo’s paintings and decided to recreate the images. This project has also inspired him to recreate other portraits, like those of Darth Vader, Gandhi, and The Terminator.

Enrique says, “Although most recognize the images immediately as portraits, there are many people who do not. At first they only see the individual parts of the image: the fruits, flowers, and vegetables. But after looking at it for a while, they realize that it’s a portrait of a person. To see that thought process being played out in real time is very satisfying to me because it mimics the thinking behind the art: that simple organic objects come together to create something more meaningful than the sum of its parts.” (via lens scratch)

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