Intertwined strips of ceramics escaping from their original form. Haejin Lee’s abstract sculptures blend perfection and fantasy. A flawless object, face or body part suddenly disintegrates into a uncontrolled harmonized chaos. Fascinated by the indefinite loop of the Mobius strip (a surface with a non orientable property), she brings into her art pieces the transformation of a flat surface into a 3 dimensional rendering. The final piece mirrors two essential aspects for the artist: continuity and infinity.
The dichotomy between perfection and confusion reflects the technical difficulties the artist had to face while conceptualizing the pieces. In order to get a steady work of art, she had to anticipate the weight of the strips once dried and heated. Often created in monochromatic tones, the plain colors add intensity to the sculptures. Haejin Lee is inviting us to interpret the passage from reality to surrealism. As if the strips, bandages of our exterior enveloppe had to fly away in order to reveal the essence of our souls, imagination and creativity. By acknowledging that the pieces were ‘almost impossible to balance’, the artist insists on the difficulty yet essential need for individuals to unconsciously or not; define their equilibrium.
The Unconventional Apology Project, created by Los Angeles based artist Chantal Barlow, was inspired by events haunting Barlow’s own family’s history. Her grandmother, Mableine Nelson Barlow, mother of 7 children, was shot and murdered by her grandfather two days following the finalization of their divorce. The dark secret has remained unspoken within her family, as her grandfather, a man of power, was never convicted or even sent to trial. As her grandfather grew older, he began to consistently capture moments from their family’s life. When he died, at age 84, he left her his beloved camera. Today, she uses this camera “as a tool to photograph…women that have been impacted by abuse, and have been silenced.” She aims to give these women a “Trail of Existence. They will not disappear.”
Barlow and her teammates, Tiffany Curlee and Dr. Susan Hammoudeh, have taken on this ambitious and altruistic project with the aims to create a platform to raise the volume of survivors of domestic violence. Not only does the team capture portraits of these women, they also have listened to and documented their stories. Each photograph shows the brightness and radiance in each of these women’s eyes, proving that there is light on the other side. The diversity of both the women’s stories and appearances teaches that domestic violence has no face. This is a truly pure and critical project, offering insight into a dark and far to common reality.
The body of work has been created to, in the words of the project developers;
“recaptur[e] the humanity of abused women. Part of the apology is shaking up our preconceived notions of abused women; how we have made them all appear (or disappear) in media and other social outlets. They have lost their personhood, and are reduced to an event. This portrait project aims to shift our experience of these women.”
To know more about the project and get involved, find the project’s website here.
I am very excited about today’s blog posts as I will be writing about a few of my most favorite artists. The first of them being San Francisco based painter, Jennifer Poon. Jennifer creates a fragile and fragmented world that which communicates her personal experiences, race, social identity, sexuality, etc. Her paintings always has a way of having me reflect on my relationship to the world and those around me.
The exact color of that Ginger Ale can is important to artist Sara Cwynar. Her work revolves around the careful curation of both fantastic and banal objects. She arranges and later photographs these assemblages, which range from color studies to chaotic interpretations of old works of art.
You might be familiar with 16th and 17th century Dutch Flower paintings. If not, then they are exactly as they sound; Still life paintings of flower arrangements. They are colorful and realistically rendered pictures. Their realism is almost boring, until you find out that these paintings were meant to brighten up the interior of homes during the winter months when real flowers were dead. In her Flat Death series, Cwynar took old reproduced pictures of these flowers and overtop placed it with the likes of cheap plastic toys, fake leaves, rolls of tape, and dish gloves. A sophisticated painting is recreated out of junk, creating a cognitive dissonance.
Color Studies is another still life series. Instead of parodying of an already existing work, Cwynar gathers objects of a similar color. They include old marching band uniforms, encyclopedias, lemons, old slide film, cigarettes, and so much more. Photographs feel really dated, like a teenager’s room in the 1970’s. This is Cwynar’s intention. In an interview with Lavalette, she states:
I thought a lot about the aesthetic patterns you see in these pictures – a particular lighting, a slickness, a high level of detail. I’m also trying to recycle and subvert conventions of product and commercial photography by using elements that aren’t normally associated with these genres – objects that are now discarded or forgotten, intentional scuffing, not glossy at all.
It’s easy to be intrigued by Cwynar’s work. She utilizes conventional objects and through assemblage, allows us to experience them in a new way.
These images may look like simple abstract paintings, or cut out pieces of cardboard collaged on top of each other, but they are anything but. They are actually a product of one of the most avant-garde photographic processes being used today. Brooklyn artist Liz Nielsen‘s current exhibition Wolf Moon is an eloquent display of a very strange technique. She places different objects and shapes cut from transparent colored gels directly onto photographic paper and exposes them to light resulting in dramatic compositions.
It is a negative process, so that colors are reversed. It has taken many years of dedicated darkroom experimentation to layer the overlapping shapes so that a subtle color results instead of pure white. The resulting unique chromogenic prints in Wolf Moon are singed with red from leaked light in the darkroom and populated by abstract shapes reminiscent of terrestrial and extraterrestrial forms. (Source)
Nielsen’s exhibition has a focus on landscapes, celestial shapes and beautiful phenomena (like electricity and lightning). The subject matter mirrors the strange and wonderful process she uses in developing the images. See more of her unique C-prints at the exhibition – running from Jan 29 – March 8 at Denny Gallery in New York. (Via Pattern Pulp)
Michael Shapcott is an emerging artist from Connecticut. His paintings and illustrations take traditional portraiture and add elements of folklore and dream imagery, his main source of inspiration. His work is nothing less than powerful, inspiring, and emotional.