Jeff Friesen Uses Legos o Satirize The 50 US States

West Virginia: Bobby has five minutes left on his shift in the coal mine. Just enough time to dig a little deeper.

West Virginia: Bobby has five minutes left on his shift in the coal mine. Just enough time to dig a little deeper.

Washington: We can only close our eyes using clothespins.

Washington: We can only close our eyes using clothespins.

Texas: Rounding up little doggies who have lost their way.

Maryland: Today the crabs decided to have a picnic of their own.

Canadian Photographer Jeff Friesen uses the iconic Legos to build dioramas that he later photographs. In the series 50 States of Legos, Friesen satirizes each state in the United States using the toy’s characters, blocks, and accessories. Scenes are set against colorful backdrops like mountains, beaches, and grassy lands. Some include aliens, cowboys,and even historic figures like George Washington.

Each state has their own legacy or a reputation for something. Friesen plays on these associations and includes witty captions that accompany them. I live in Maryland, for instance, where eating crabs is a cherished pastime. Friesen pokes fun at this, turning crabs against a couple trying to boil a crab. Other places receive the same, if not more over-the-top treatment. Alaska features a Yet fishing with an Eskimo. A cowboy in New Mexico is prodded by an alien. There is a dragon in the mines of West Virginia. Friesen’s series is a light-hearted look at the states, which are made even more amusing the more time you spend with them and their details. (Via Honestly WTF)

Prison Art: The Story Of An Incredibly Detailed Monkey Bar Diorama Made From Scraps And Gifted To Henry Ford

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Henry Ford’s Digital Collections Initiatives Manager Ellice Engdahl recently wrote about one of his favorite artifacts of the 18,000 published online: The Monkey Bar diorama. This diorama was created by a man known as Patrick J. Culhane (various spellings) in 1914-15 during his time at the Massachusetts State Prison at Charlestown where he’d been sent after a conviction of “larceny from a conveyance.” Culhane carved and assembled this incredibly detailed piece of prison art by hand from a variety of materials, including peach pits, and scraps of wood, fabric, metal, cellulose, and plastic, all fitting into a base measuring only 16″ x 20″.

Engdahl notes that Monkey Bars were created by other prisoners in the early 20th century, and that “Culhane intended the diorama to depict many of the worldly pitfalls that had put him and his fellow inmates on a path to prison. The Bar is chock full of monkeys engaged in all kinds of rambunctious activities—drinking alcohol, gluttonous eating, smoking (cigarettes, cigars, and opium), gambling and gaming in many forms (craps, roulette, checkers, shell game, and cards), playing music, monitoring the stock market via a ticker, and even paying off a policemonkey. Clearly some of the monkeys are ready to check into (or out of) the associated hotel, as they have their suitcases with them and keys and mail are visible behind the desk.”

After Culhane finished his piece, he arranged to have it sent to Henry Ford, with a hand-written note, “Presented to Mr. Henry Ford / As a token of appreciation and esteem for his many benevolent and magnanimous acts toward, and keen interest in, prisoners / By A Prisoner.”

Engdahl surmises that Ford became interested in Culhane, and may have a hand in his release from prison, as Culhane was hired to work at the Ford Motor Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1916 and Ford’s secretary corresponded with Culhane regularly.

All photos courtesy of The Henry Ford. (via Slate)

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Toilet Paper Roll Dioramas By Anastassia Elias

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Artist Anastassia Elias is perhaps best known for a a simple but intricate style of artwork.  She creates tiny dioramas inside toilet paper rolls that come to life upon shining a light through it.  Elias delicately cuts each scene from paper and places it inside the roll.  Though each diorama contains a great amount of detail, Elias has been able to create an extensive amount of work in the series.  In fact, she recently released a book documenting her paper roll work between 2009 and 2012.   [via]

Violence, Death, The Holocaust And McDonald’s

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Jack and Dinos Chapman’s latest installation is currently on view in Hong Kong. The work is comprised of four dioramas depicting historical events with miniature figures. Violence, holocaust, and death pervade the work, as well as commercial images of characters from McDonald’s. This creates a landscape rife with gritty humor and heavy irony. This work evokes a level of discomfort that is shockingly arresting. Jake says, “It’s as pessimistic as we can make it but it’s pessimistic in a joyful sense. Fatalistic in a joyful sense. There’s nothing foreboding about this. It doesn’t serve any kind of moral end…We take McDonald’s as being a marker of the transformation from industrialisation to the end of the world. McDonald’s once represented the idealism of fast food and the space rest era. Now it’s consistent with the dilation of the ozone and a litigious clown who’s lost his sense of humour.’”  Check out other posts we’ve done about these artist brothers here.

The Library Dioramas of Marc Giai-Miniet

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These aren’t photos of bisected buildings. Rather, they’re the carefully constructed dioramas of artist Marc Giai-Miniet.  His little libraries inhabit multi-storied buildings, perfectly suitable for us bookish nerds.  However, many of his pieces almost seem to be hiding something sinister.  The floors become darker, dirtier, more utilitarian the deeper they are in the building.  Soot stained boiler rooms occupy the basement floors along with objects long forgotten.  Perhaps the entire structure is a metaphor for the mind in a way: the diligent ego among the book lined floors and the unconscious hidden down in the dingy cellar.

The Dish Dioramas of Caroline Slotte

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The medium of artist Caroline Slotte is a familiar one.  Dishes commonly found in homes and thrift shops become surprising dioramas.  The simple images usually hidden under food become multilayered narratives.  The many memories associated with family meals, dinner parties, milestone celebrations aren’t lost on Slotte.  She says of her medium choice:

“ Objects in our private sphere stir feelings in us and connect us to our history. They are tangible reminders of the past, of our own life story, and that of the family. In this way the most humble object can function as a key to the past, as a key to our inner.”

Patrick Jacobs’ Incredible Hyper-realistic Dioramas

Artist Patrick Jacobs creates highly intricate dioramas.  His dioramas, once created, are installed inside the gallery wall and fitted with a large lens.  Gallery visitors can spy on each of the miniature scenes through these lenses.  Jacobs’ dioramas are often of idealized landscapes or peaceful indoor scenes carefully detailed to appear as entirely separate worlds.  Hidden lighting glows as if entirely natural while the foreground seamlessly blends with a background and further to the horizon.

Star Wars Meets M.C. Escher In This Rad Diorama

 

 

Fill your nerd quota for the day and check out this piece of lego sculpture made by Paul Vermeesch. It’s a diorama reproduction of M.C. Escher’s “Relativity” using Star Wars legos. It’s lit from the inside and even includes a faithful depiction of the plot from the much loved film series. Nice work, Paul!