Jane Benson is a multimedia artist who talks quite a bit about suffering. Her art speaks a lot about observation and the human psyche. Her relation to the earth seems to be something she constantly questions. Every moves beckons to test the difference between want and need. Let the games begin.
Proliferations of mixtape-themed things exist in the art & design world, having hit a high point in the mid-2000’s—where images of “vintage” cassette tapes covered everything from pillow cases to USB drives. What got lost somewhere in there was the sentiment that was originally attached to the archaic plastic medium, the sense of pride that comes from crafting (and usually gifting) someone with a perfect, personal selection of songs. Portland-based illustrator Kate Bingaman-Burt has embarked on a long-running series of mixtape drawings, where she picks up long-since discarded cassettes and makes a quick, humorous sketch…and she’s taken submissions for the project for a while now. As a series, the fresh, expressive drawings reveal an intriguing cross-section of personalities, musical tastes and long-lost good intentions.
In December 2006, American photographer Tim Mantoani embarked on a unique and fascinating project to document living photographers with their most iconic images. Since then, he has collected over 150 portraits, ranging from the historic to the contemporary, the cultural to the political. Included among the vast series is Harry Benson and his famous photograph of The Beatles engaged in a pillow fight (1964), as well as Lyle Owerko holding his devastating image of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers (2001). All of Mantoani’s portraits are taken on the “rare but mammoth format of a 20×24 Polaroid,” using a large camera originating from the 1970s (Source). Only a handful of these Polaroid cameras still exist (you can learn more about the devices he uses here). Mantoani’s reasoning for using such unique, classic technology is rooted in a respect and passion for the photographic tradition; as he explains, “If you are going to call the greatest living photographers and ask to make a photo of them and you are shooting 35mm digital, they may not take your call. But if you say you are shooting 20×24 Polaroid, they will at least listen to your pitch” (Source). As further homage to these artists, as well as their impact on the history of photography, Mantoani has had everyone write a story about their iconic image on the bottom of their portrait.
Mantoani’s project is simultaneously intimate and historically significant. It is an undeniably powerful experience to see the faces behind photographs which have defined cultural eras and signified shifts in social consciousness. So often, despite the impact of their work, photographers remain the unseen observers while framing the world in profound ways. We don’t often have the opportunity to connect with the mind and personality behind the lens. Mantoani’s work crystallizes these important artists in the records of photographic history. Suddenly, with the Polaroid and its accompanying, hand-written inscription, we can imagine Steve McCurry in 1984 in the midst of the Soviet War in Afghanistan, capturing the face of Sharbat Gula (“Afghan Girl”), who would wordlessly tell the world an intimate story of hardship and perseverance. In regards to an iconic moment in the history of American music, Jim Marshall’s portrait shows us the face to which — for an intense, fleeting moment — Johnny Cash held aloft his middle finger. These portraits bring the bodily, human presences back into the images and their associated histories.
In 2012, all of these stunning portraits were compiled in the book Behind Photographs, published by Channel Photographics. The book is available in multiple formats, including a regular edition, a slipcase limited edition, as well as a cloth-bound deluxe limited edition that comes with signed collector cards. It is also available as an eBook. The print versions are available for purchase on Mantoani’s website. More photographer portraits after the jump. (Via 123 Inspiration)
Salt Lake City based artist Stephanie Kelly creates beautifully detailed illustrations out of thread. The series featured here is entitled “Dwellings” and speaks to the theme of domesticity that informs Kelly’s use of embroidery and her attempt to reclaim craft as fine art. Painting with thread instead of oils gives her work depth and tactility, creating rich and voluminous textures and blends. Kelly embroiders thread and fabric wallpaper pieces onto stretched canvases, which gives her work this remarkably detailed multi-textured design. Kelly began as a painter and illustrator, and was eventually given the opportunity to work with whatever medium she desired and decided to combine her skills with her love of craft. Kelly says her grandmother taught her to embroider and that this has largely inspired the domestic theme that permeates her work. Kelly’s painter’s eye applied to embroidery reminds me of the last embroidery work I posted, featuring Ana Tereza Barboza. You can watch a video profile of Kelly after the jump. (via from89)
We received a ‘zine today from one of our previously featured photographers, Elle Perez. He even sent us a very sweet thank you note in which he offered to buy us coffee if we are ever in town. The images in the ‘zine are from his series Ghettopunk. Incredibly striking shots! It’d be cool if Elle made postcards of them…I’d love to mail some out to my friends.
Korean artist Seungchun Lim creates life-size sculptures. His work is steeped in narrative, each piece a character. Seungchun’s sculptures are, in fact, part of a complex story. The three eyed boy above is born with a hump in his back that turns out to be wings. Eventually his wings are stolen from him. Independent of their grand tale, Seungchun’s sculptures still exude an air lonliness and sadness. His characters wordlessly communicate through their powerful but quiet imagery.
Sheena Matheiken decided to start The Uniform Project in May 2009 by pledging to wear the same uniform dress for the next 365 days. She has 7 identical dresses, 1 for each day of the week, and the only thing that will change are her vintage, hand-made, or second-hand accessories and how far her creativity will take each outfit.
The Uniform Project is aimed at raising money for the Akanksha Foundation, a movement that hopes to change the lives of many children in India with the gift of education. As someone who was raised in India and had no choice but to wear uniforms to school, Sheena Matheiken has now chosen to rewind to the days of uniforms for a good cause.
Kent Rogowski is a Brooklyn-based artist who alters consumer products as a means of exploring the emotional and cultural roles such objects play in our lives. We featured his Everything I Wish I Could Be project a couple years ago, wherein Rogowsky reconfigured self-help books in order to construct subjective narratives of experience and self-definition. The series featured here, titled Bears, takes an arguably darker — but no less profound — approach to our relationship with material objects. By inverting (formerly) adorable stuffed animals and re-stuffing them, Rogowsky has created a cast of strange, sad, and grotesque characters. The visibility of their internal structures has an undeniably disturbing effect; with their exposed seams, spilling stuffing, and lidless eyes, they look like the flayed and eviscerated versions of our childhood companions. As Sarah Verdone eloquently (and humorously) wrote for Paper Magazine: “If Hannibal Lecter, Martin Margiela and a blind speed freak had a three-way in a Build-A-Bear workshop, these creatures would be their mutant offspring” (Source).
But Rogowski’s project is not just about clashing the cute with the grotesque — which, in a way, alienates us from material objects typically associated with nostalgia and comfort. His mutilated creations, in their sordid states of innocent suffering, are portraits of the hardships we experience as we grow, struggle, and change. Despite their crippling disfigurement, the stuffed creations maintain an appearance of love and loyalty, steadfastly “holding it together,” waiting for you to return home while everything slowly unravels at the seams. In a fascinating statement about this project, Rogowski writes:
“They are at once hideous yet cuddly, […] while offering a metaphor for us all to consider. These bears, which have lived and loved and lost as much as their owners, have suffered and endured through it all. It is by virtue of revealing their inner core might we better understand our own.” (Source)
Check out Rogowski’s website for more examples of his insightful explorations of consumer products and the way they impact our internal lives. (Via Design Faves)