Much of the work of Brandon Vickerd carries an uneasy quality about it. They often feel as if a situation is suddenly shifting from normal to worst-case-scenario. Vickerd’s work reveals the death and disaster hidden beneath the mundane we take for granted. For these pieces, The Passenger and The Passenger II, Vickerd creates life like sculpture from previously living material. Taxidermied animals appear to make up the body of a person that is otherwise waiting. The sculptures were installed in public areas wearing normal clothing.
The paper cut pieces of Wendy Wallin Malinow reveal the deeper goings-on of animals. Malinow’s pieces are cut to expose an x-ray type view of various forest and ocean animals. In addition to the bone structure, a meal is visible inside each animal. While playful, there is also a sad quality to her work. Malinow’s work reveals the nourishment and effort to needed to survive as well as the violence at times inherent in that. A squirrel has ingested some acorn’s while a wolf seems to be filled with the ghost of a red riding hood.
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.