Louise Riley embroiders human figures using a mattress as a canvas. Usually in repose, these figures create an intimate experience for the viewer. Riley’s work demonstrates a fine attention to detail and color shading, rendering vulnerable and realistic characters out of linear and geometric forms. Part of her practice includes that of altering the flat shape of the mattress, creating rolls and curves in her mattress-canvas, or cutting shapes into or on the mattress.
From her artist statement, “When I am sewing figures, I think of the thread being strands of DNA and the stitches binary codes and the fabric (our second skin anyway) a grid and that leads me onto String theory, experiences happening alongside each other with endless alternative outcomes. These grandiose thoughts are what get me through the hours..
The literal abundance of fabric and thread as domestic content and construction, not limited to gender, makes our relationship to it very intimate.
I use the mattress as a backgroundless background that holds weight of experience conceptually, spiritually and physically. Blood, sweat and tears like tree rings in its core. Its presence in our rights of passage, our sleep, rest, thoughts, dreams, the theatre of life spilled out onto it. How could I work on anything else! It is a ready-made canvas, it allows my ideas to penetrate it and collaborate with it to unearth a supposed breath-taking, yet ordinary, history or herstory.”
Jessica Dunegan’s surreal paintings and portraits are beautifully complex both in content and technique. Using a mixture of epoxy resin, acrylic paint, and archival prints, Dunegan creates organic work with physical depth. After squeezing paint into a layer of liquid resin and creating opaque, delineating strands of paint, she repeats this process many times. Much of her paintings mediate between a sense of tense turmoil or unrest and peaceful tranquility. There is something both romantic and disorienting about her subjects and composition, and her formal process speaks eloquently to this particular aesthetic.
“My subjects are more than superficial objects. They may look realistic from afar, but upon further inspection, they are comprised of suspended, chaotic lines. I want to capture each animated form in time and celebrate its imperfections.” (via)
Dunegan currently lives in Boston. You can watch a video of her process here.
Sean Mahan’s refreshing acrylic paintings on wood depict girls as creative spirits deeply empowered by and engaged with their own crafty muses. Unlike the classical order, where female figures were often shown as objects that inspire– here, the buzz of breathing maker is most present within the the young lady subjects themselves. Each portrait shows a confident furrowed brow or contemplative daze completely focused inward on a project at hand, unaware of the artist’s gaze. Their identities appear to be emerging from within, not dependent on an external eye.
Megan Van Groll paints women– mediating on the fine line between nakedness and nudity, or how these two concepts relate to freedom or identity. Likewise, from bathing in cocoa puffs to sensually brawling at a donut shop, her food motif is an interesting one, often working in tandem with the female form– provoking thoughts of fetish from the outside, but also, a much more personal and complicated binging ceremony.
Of her own craft, Groll states, “My narrative portraits of women are, at their core, a painted attempt to understand and portray how modern women create identity and meaning from the world around them. I am interested in exploring the way we perform our projected ideal personas, for ourselves and for others.”
It would be too easy to suggest that Grace Mikell Ramsey‘s work only illustrates moments of science fiction or fantasy. This is not what draws us into her narratives. Instead, it’s her ability to capture subtle anticipation– insular moments of contemplation where reality gestures goodbye. Her characters stand on the precipice, holding their breath, surrendering to dreamy whims only young children or covens of three are capable of conjuring, unable to shake a certain heaviness of the pending trade and what is at stake.
The figurative drawings and paintings of Pasadena based artist Ching Ching Cheng are remarkably captivating to me. She uses members of her family often as subject matter but continually chooses to portray them in a conceptual way embracing different ways to illustrate a memory of that person in her past more so than the realistic representation of them. Ching uses sculpture and installation mediums in her work, such as her vintage polaroid and mm camera sculptures made of found books & maps. Each camera sculpture has tremendous amounts of character to them feeling to me as if they are alive beings or the “true” soul of whatever camera they are embodying. Ching’s work is thoughtful and personal slivers of her life past and present. Her primary influences include nature, and psychology.
Recent MICA grad Andy Vible makes “life-size sculptures of human bodies whose heads have been replaced by everyday objects”.
Straightforward enough. Or maybe not. By decapitating his sculptures he makes us feel slightly uncomfortable. In a way, we’ve lost our heads too, and that’s a good place to start. Without a head (without a brain), we are left fully subject to Vible’s will. He has our attention. And that’s where the “everyday objects” come into play. Vible inserts these elements (cctv cameras, loudspeakers, reference globes, birdhouses, etc.) into his works in order to “communicate in a type of language that everyone understands”. In common language and without our personal projections, the works are able to come across clearly. Click the link and hit your bookmark button. You know what to do.
Brazilian artist ALMA has been getting up a lot lately with these haunting, stark, sometimes figurative pieces that move in and out of decaying urban environments in an incredibly natural way. I like that he mixes it up between extensive, symmetrical work that kind of reminds me of Richard Colman, and flat black stuff that’s really hard to define but affective nonetheless. South America is always killin’ it.