The paintings of artist Charlotte Caron explores both the ancient tendency to humanize animals and the dreams of humans to transform into animals. Caron’s acrylic paintings of animal faces are set on the photographed portraits of people as if they were masks. The people of the photographs not only assume the appearance of the animals, but nearly seem to exude corresponding personalities. The hawk seems harsh, the fox mischievous the deer gentle. The literal anthropomorphizing of animals in the paintings emphasizes how this figuratively takes place. Caron also underscores the contrast between human and animal, and perhaps by extension civilized and animalistic, by also contrasting photography and painting.
The artwork of Cassandra Smith exists in the space between juxtapositions. Taxidermied animals are often a bit creepy. However, Smith’s stuffed forest friends are also playfully decorated – fish covered in rhinestones, and fur in bright paint. The natural plays with the synthetic, old with the new, and utilitarian with the decorative. She says of her work:
“My work is about manipulations and transformation. It is about exploring the ways that I can enhance and change found objects to give them something they did not have in their former life.” [via]
Brazilian artist Vik Muniz created these images of animals using scrap metal. You can get idea of the huge scale of Muniz’ work by looking at the first image – notice the pile of car doors on the left. Much of Muniz’ art is an accumulation of what many would consider garbage to create fine art. He creates huge ‘collages’ from these objects, photographs them, and returns them to their smaller scale. You may recognize Muniz and his work from the acclaimed documentary Wasteland in which his process was detailed. [via]
Annie Marie Musselman’s photographic work has a very unique quality and strategic approach to capturing the soul of an animal. When browsing through the collections on her site, I couldn’t help but feel like I was looking at another human being, not a bird or a fox… Currently, Musselman is working on a project photographing animals in sanctuaries around the world in order to raise awareness around the fragility and beauty of endangered species – animals which if saved, would save countless other species as well.
Juan Travieso‘s work is a sort of contemporary nature painting. His paintings of monkeys, bears, birds, seem to be falling apart into garbled digital information. Travieso appears to be capturing the animals a moment before they degenerate into unintelligible pixels of color. This could reflect an environment that is falling apart despite (or perhaps because of) constant technological progress. Travieso captures a sense of urgency in the paintings, an irretrievable moment soon to pass.
Lotta Mattila is a Helsinki-based Finnish sculptor who is currently the artist-in-residence at Skylab Gallery in Columbus, Ohio. Mattila finds meaning in the contradictions between her sculptures’ form and their content (a literal battering ram made of glass), and uses those material contradictions to comment on human nature, often by punning off of Finnish sayings.
Mattila’s Skylab exhibition Gravitation opens Friday (11/30) and runs until December 10th. Gravitation takes the “weight of the world” – its physicality and heaviness when one is depressed – as its central metaphor. More of Mattila’s work can be found after the jump.
At times called ‘performative sculpture’ Swiss artist Victorine Müller combines sculpture and performance art to intriguing effect. Her large but airy PVC sculptures stand ghost-like, glowing in the light and disappearing in the shadows. Müller herself sits or stands peacefully inside the sculpture. The title of her most recent exhibit “Wild at Heart” sheds some light onto her work. Müller temporarily inhabits the inside of an animal – the guts, the heart, the womb, the soul. Though simple, each performance connects easily with the viewers communicating, as Müller says “something that is not said and cannot be said, but that is.”
Beth Cavener Stichter uses animals in her sculptures as metaphors for the irrational world humans have trouble tapping into. As sculptures of animals, we’re encouraged to feel more directly what we see the animals going through, more so than we would with a human being whom we would try to supply with a narrative context. This is part of the problem Beth is trying to deal with,to get us to embrace the unconscious and irrational parts of our existence instead of repressing them in order to assert our Humanity. The artist explains:
“There are primitive animal instincts lurking in our own depths, waiting for the chance to slide past a conscious moment. The sculptures I create focus on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal and human forms. On the surface, these figures are simply feral and domestic individuals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface they embody the impacts of aggression, territorial desires, isolation, and pack mentality. ”