Awkward Family Photos Exhibits Only The Most Embarrassing Childhood Portraits

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The magic of the family photograph lies in its flaws, and the curatorial team at website Awkward Family Photos has reminded us of this fact by collecting and cataloguing all of our charming photographic failings and reminding us that for every perfect chiclet smile, there’s a disgruntled side-eye or a bad haircut. The online collection is a testament to the bonds of family, and each accident betrays the touching vulnerability of each relationship.

The family photo album is a fragile, private thing; when made public, these images constitute a powerful and uncomfortable archive of American tradition and cultural shifts. While a photograph of mother, son, and daughter dressed to the nines in shoulder-padded polka-dots and acid wash jeans might have been swell in the ’80s, it serves now as a painful and permanent reminder of our fleeting coolness and relevance. In one image, a young man seductively holds a live snake; in a similarly embarrassing assertion of power within the family, a father superimposes himself over a cheesy portrait with now-outdated technology.

As family structures and fashion choices continue to shift, Awkward Family Photos is a visual historical narrative worthy of being preserved. And it will have its moment of glory in an upcoming exhibition at Santa Monica’s California Heritage Museum. The collection is to be arranged and hung in accordance with the following categories: “Family Portrait, Siblings, Vacation, Kids, Holidays, Weddings, Dad, Mom, Grandparents, Birthdays, and Family Pet.”

Exhibition goers will be invited to sit for their own portraits, which are to be added to the collection. This refreshing series is about embracing the awkward within us all; through each image, there are clear hints of love, charm, and unabashed playfulness. (via My Modern Met)

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Timothy Archibald Photographs His Autistic Son As Therapy

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Echoliia, a collection of photographs taken by Timothy Archibald, is a heart-warming study of the photographer’s 5-year-old autistic son, Eli. In hopes to get his frustrations out through creativity, Archibald photographed his son’s odd but endearing behaviors in order to understand him better and create a stronger, trustworthy relationship between the two of them.

The collection reveals the child’s unique perspectives and interaction with the world around him. With a trashcan on his head and a cardboard tube ’arm’, Eli conquers his world. His dad couldn’t be prouder to capture the uniqueness he exudes.

“I never wanted [Eli] to think that he was normal. I wanted him to be aware of how different he was and see that as an asset.”

Through this series, not only do you acknowledge Eli’s quirks, but also witness Archibald’s accepting and loving gaze.The father and child collaboration is available in book form on the artist’s website. (via My Modern Met)

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Mother And Daughter Collaborate On Surreal Illustrations

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It’s hard not to be absolutely delighted with this story and these illustrations. Mica Angela Hendricks is an illustrator and graphic artist who used to keep her art projects separate from her daughter’s as a way to maintain control of artistic direction. One day, that changed when her 4-year-old insisted that Hendricks share her new sketchbook with her, finally berating her with, “we might have to take it away if you can’t share,” something Hendricks told her daughter often. So Hendricks let her finish the bodies of many faces she’d started (informed by old black and white movie stills), and was surprised and delighted with the results. Hendricks claims her daughter often has a focused direction when finishing a piece, and that her imagination is unpredictable.

After her daughter finishes drawing, Hendricks adds color and highlights, texture and painting to complete them. Her daughter critques most of them a bit harshly, but ultimately enjoys their collaboration. As for Hendricks, the collaboration means more to her than the creation of interesting and unique illustrations:

“…From it all, here are the lessons I learned: to try not to be so rigid. Yes, some things (like my new sketchbook) are sacred, but if you let go of those chains, new and wonderful things can happen. Those things you hold so dear cannot change and grow and expand unless you loosen your grip on them a little. In sharing my artwork and allowing our daughter to be an equal in our collaborations, I helped solidify her confidence, which is way more precious than any doodle I could have done. In her mind, her contributions were as valid as mine (and in truth, they really were). Most importantly, I learned that if you have a preconceived notion of how something should be, YOU WILL ALWAYS BE DISAPPOINTED. Instead, just go with it, just ACCEPT it, because usually something even more wonderful will come out of it.”

You can purchase prints of these delightful illustrations here. (via)

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Tokyo Museum Hosts Interactive Haunted Art Playhouse

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Torafu Architects has installed an interactive haunted playhouse in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. Paintings move, portrait eyes dart back and forth, and children climb through picture frames installed at the museum. A secret passageway exists within the installation, allowing children to interact with nearly all of the featured art, most of them re-creations of classic works. Museums and galleries are usually places reserved for more serious contemplative reflection, discouraging touching and interaction of any kind. Torafu Architects has transformed this perception, creating a space that encourages engagement and creativity. Be sure to check out our previous post about Torafu’s kid-friendly designer information kiosk here.

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Toy Stories – Children With Their Most Prized Possessions

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Photographer Gabriele Galinberti‘s series Toy Stories is a simple concept revealing a complex story.  Over the course of 18 months the artist photographed children throughout the world with their most prized possessions.  He would often play with the toys along with the children prior to arranging them for the photographs.  It is surprising how much the toys can reveal about each child.  Often children would prize toys that reflected the occupations of their parents – a large collection of cars for the son of a taxi driver or rakes and shovels for the daughter of a farmer.  Also, Galinberti relates that poorer children’s play focused more on friends and activities rather than possessions.  He says:

“The richest children were more possessive. At the beginning, they wouldn’t want me to touch their toys, and I would need more time before they would let me play with them.  In poor countries, it was much easier. Even if they only had two or three toys, they didn’t really care. In Africa, the kids would mostly play with their friends outside.”

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Federico Lombardo

 

Italian artist Federico Lombardo’s portraits are washy, delicate, and often straightforward, yet in their best moments they possess qualities that are strange and askew. His subjects look distinctly Angelo Saxon or Scandinavian, light skinned and fair, and are conventionally attractive. Their faces, bare and plain, stare straight at the viewer with the knowing look of being gazed upon, often smiling or glaring in response. He has series of women and men, as well as couples and children made with oil, watercolor and by digital tablet, but by far, his watercolors showcase his best efforts. The way Lombardo applies his paint is mostly very controlled, yet in crucial areas he gives way to the fluid nature of the medium and in effect produces subtle, bizarre deviations in his otherwise bland looking subjects. In this sense, these instances of surrender are reflective of the work of Marlene Dumas; however, Lombardo’s work is wholly different in that it stays safe in its uncontroversial directive.

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Yeondoo Jung’s Wonderland

Imagination comes to life with Yeondoo Jung‘s Wonderland series. He takes children’s illustrations and re-creates them in staged photographs. Some are incredibly spot-on accurate, while others had some creative tweaking added to complete the image. All in all it made for a unique series of images we wont soon forget.

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Jordi Ferreiro’s Workshops For Kids

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Spanish designer Jordi Ferreiro takes on a role often overlooked in the creative industry when he organizes these art workshop for kids. Though I’m definitely not qualified to make any astute comments on arts education in the American school system, it’d be nice if there was umm… more of it. It’s interesting though, to see the sort of primitive forms and ideas presented in the children’s artworks and think “Wow, the stuff made by (enter currently hip artist’s name who makes drawings that look like kids made them) totally looks like this!”. Maybe the form is completely mastered but not the thoughts behind it because the output of a child’s imagination is fresh. We’re just all jaded and hungry for irony.

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