Suellen Parker builds each character from unforgettable moments of strangers or friends. First, she starts with sculpting the shape from plastiline clay before photographing it with a blank backdrop. Then, simultaneously, she scavengers for props, walls, or environments that might suit a certain character well and shoots those too. All of these images are finally loaded into a computer, where the art of merging and manipulation occurs. Skin tones are “digitally painted” and human faces technologically blend with clay while backgrounds stitch together to create a new imaginative world.
Of Letting Go, her most recent series collected here, Parker strives to twist not only mediums, but also gender roles. She suggests her characters concretely and conceptually have a fine blend of both, and states, they “are attempting to find a sacred space, a place of vulnerability, a place where they allow themselves to be really seen. By quieting one’s life, even momentarily, an opportunity is presented to learn truths about oneself. By engaging in private play, one is able to let go of expectations and rules. The result is a private and truthful moment that may be enjoyed without fear of judgment or consequence.”
The photographs of Matthew Monteith‘s series Guardare turn the subject back on to the viewer. His images depict people explaining, gazing at, and otherwise admiring art. When I first heard about the series I was prepared to be annoyed with the pedantic gestures and expressions of people acting smarter than thou. However, the photographs are surprisingly endearing. People are visibly moved, sincerely engaged with the work often just out of frame. Guardare perhaps suggests that the art in a gallery doesn’t happen with the work but between two viewers discussing it.
From burning Birkin bags to Barbies in Bondage or a clad Lindsay Lohan playing with guns, Tyler Shields’ subjects are as Hollywood as the photographer himself. Even his Tate Modern acquisition was documented on Mrs. Eastwood And Company, an E! reality television show.
Like Andy Warhol, Shields’ famous connections and brazen use of them, make his work ripe for the picking, for better or worse.
His most captivating imagery, to us, however, has less obvious celebrity shock value, depicting instead more theatrical situations where subjects are posed, mid-action, falling from rooftops or engaged in colorful night fights.
From Futura Standard to Helvetica Neue, designer Aleksi Hautamaki refits vintage neon letters, previously destined for the bin, with a touch of LED lighting to resuscitate their glow for another 10 years.
Character, his company, sells each piece to the public, intending to cultivate a “second life cycle” capable of creating “new value for everybody involved.”
Likewise, portrayed here in a series of artful photographs, each previously abandoned bit of font now haunts the city, with a fresh sense of freedom, searching for a new artful context, home, or environment outside its previous life in advertising.
Alberto Seveso’s high speed photographs of ink mixing with water are hypnotic and fascinating. Each shot depicts pushes of color twisting and bending with an emotive cadence, lulling itself into an ephemeral sculpture, detailed with sharp visceral attention.
Although such imagery is not new, per se, this specific collection feels intrinsically magnetic due to the captive nature of submerged color naturally bonding or relating before diluting. It’s more about documenting the ease of abstraction than pushing a forced abstract agenda.
Pawel Bownik meticulously pulls each flower apart: disconnecting the leaf from the stem or the petal from the pistil, taking involved notes all the while, so he can, eventually, reassemble each piece back to its original state. His photography, collected here, documents such reconstructions. From far away, each image blooms and seethes with life. However, with a steadier eye, up close, we see pencil marks, bits of string, tape, and pins holding it all together. Like some strange sort of floral Frankenstein, the dead is regenerated.
Christopher Lavery’s sculptures and installations work as poetic monuments– stretching beyond one particular brand or medium, and focusing, instead, on the art of humanity in relation to our natural state of dreaming.
For instance, Cloudscape (top image above), a collection of representational clouds, stands as tall as 42 feet and hovers alongside Pena Blvd. in Denver, Colorado. Each piece, made of steel, solar panels, polygal, and LED lighting, allows us to reconsider our own relationship with the sky– how a cloud is a talisman or connector: nature’s billboard, ephemerally reminding us to look up and inward.
Big Gold Word Bubble (plan and model, 2nd and 3rd image above), his latest endeavor, after completion, will stand 14’ tall and examine this idea of how, parallel to the clouds, language is both concrete and abstract: a beautifully harmonized collective word bubble and diversely individualized journey of interpretation. To help support its construction and transit to Art in the Park at Elm Park in Worcester, MA, click here. To view more Cloudscape installation shots, scroll down after the jump.
Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro’s large scale installations leave us feeling a bit overwhelmed or claustrophobic, and this is perhaps maybe the point. Their installations use recyclables to not only emphasize the gluttony of spending, but even more so, to confront the looming power of clutter and our strange animalistic aversion and contrasting need for it.
Of their work, the two say, we “live in such an organized society where detritus is not an issue. You put your garbage in a bin, and it goes somewhere. When you start to look at detritus, you automatically think about refuse. Or even more about consumption…getting caught up in the cycle of consume, consume, consume. And how these objects start to quantify your life.”