Malia Jensen juxtaposes deep sensory textures with completely opposite objects or animals to create a feeling of longing, sexuality, desire, or play. The pillow, tragically, will never be comfortable enough, born from cutting board wood. Likewise, the breast, shaped from a block of salt lick, will never be able to feel a tongue the way that it should. Each carefully chosen medium breathes a new heavy sadness into the life of these objects, condemned to mirror reality without all the glorious amenities or enjoyments.
Of her work, in ArtSlant Magazine, Jensen states, “You can seduce someone in, and they might be laughing for a while, but they realize this is somewhat dark. There’s a deep sadness in a lot of work. It’s like finding a human condition in an animal parallel.”
Kyle Field, an Alabama native living in San Francisco, was born in the 1970s– and his artwork tends to reflect the mood of not only these two places, but also that era. Each craftily drawn watercolor depicts a folk narrative infused and confused with melodious psychedelic tendencies. It’s all so playful and harmonious. We find it challenging not to think of Field’s work in any other way but musical.
Margaret Nomentana’s nonrepresentational art demonstrates a fascinating balance between emotionality and restraint. Often working in a spontaneous manner, and sometimes working on several paintings simultaneously, her imagery reflects moments of clarity, caught in the act of vision and revision. Whether it’s collage or acrylic painting, her gestures evoke “abstract landscapes of the mind” or terse conversations with color and movement.
Of her own artistic desires, Nomentana states, “My strong minimalist impulse is tempered with a dry sense of humor, irony, and in spite of everything, a powerful sense of hope. Alma Thomas is my hero.”
Bianca Stone’s poetry comics are funny, raw, and endearingly sad. Because You Love You Come Apart, her latest collection of surreal illustrations are born from and combined with her own original poetry, published by Factory Hollow, an indie press out of Hadley, MA.
Stone’s blunt tethering between youth and adulthood travels by waves of sorrow and astute blitheness into our darkest nights. For instance, her lines of poetry range from “The crazy, absent fathers, all breaking wind in a fire” to “but this is also your life made with your clumsy hands” and merge with a messy scratch of passionate drawings to gutturally expose a ripcord above our own tired hearts. With each image/text juxtaposition, the need to tug grows harder and tougher, encouraging more half-wounded narratives to release.
Swedish artist Camilla Engman sets a calm yet subtle eerie scene of anxiety in her paintings. For instance, a human figure’s face might appear muddled, transforming the safety of a serene woodland setting while the role of a baby or pet might be replaced with a ghosty genderless blob . . . in the most mundane everyday afternoon way.
These instances of nonchalant marring touch on our own youthful fears of masks and humanoids– or “things” that resemble humans, but deceitfully, are not humans. Think Freddy or Jason. Luckily, Engman’s world does not linger too long in these dreadful places. If we mediate on all the images collectively, we start to see her illustrated society as one where such transmutations cross over beyond the weird and into the norms of a progressive accepting society.
Of her craft, Engman states, “For me, the working part has always been more important then the finished artwork. I love to work – paint/draw/cut. But I also have to admit I don’t like to work in vain. So I have to either learn something or to like the finale. In that way this way of creating never fails me. Something always happens. Be aware, there are no shortcuts though. I have to start from the beginning and work myself through it. With an open mind and eye, and with no judgement.”
There is something fantastically unworldly yet alluringly familiar about Amy Joy Watson’s bright sculptures. Whether it’s a drooping bow or a glitter-filled orb, this Australian’s artful structures feel like a 1986 birthday party, translated or abstracted by a video game of that same era: there are no soft edges, only the disjointed illusion of it.
To make each piece, Watson stitches or glues together watercolor-stained balsa wood, occasionally adding a tasteful Gobstopper here, or helium balloon there, to garnish her own primal sense of whimsy and sacred geometry, resulting in a somewhat spiritual monument to another imaginative age and time.
Maximilian Toth’s beautifully composed chalkboard style paintings depict teenage antics as being not so much about rebellion from authority, but more so, as a series of actions radiating acute aliveness. While favoring the color black, Toth’s strong pops of brightness light up the narrative, mid-action, exposing a new playground of discovery. For instance, there is a certain innate enigmatic pleasure in joyriding a shopping cart around town, simply because, for the first time, without parental supervision, it’s possible. Toth’s work happily meditates on this and other pockets of teenage euphoria without an imposed stringent sense of morality.
Doug Johnston’s imagination knows no boundaries. His list of interests and mediums includes architecture, photography, installation, performance, music, and fiber art– which primarily involves stitching nylon thread around coiled rope to create functionally simple, yet playful forms.
His collection of weaving, shown here for example, includes a “wearable hut” for those looking for a unconventional dose of “anonymity and privacy” and deliciously modern “light sculptures” which structurally investigate varying unconventional shapes.