Kathy Klein is a devout lover of plants, and she translates this admiration into a series of natural mandalas. They are called danmalas, which means “the giver of flowers” in vedic sanskrit. The colorful arrangements are comprised of different blooms, leaves, and even some vegetables such as peppers. She layers a variety of textures and shapes into circular patterns that converge in the center.
Klein describes how she crafts these pieces, and it’s about around being in the right state of mind. First, she situates herself in a meditative devotional space. Next, she gathers flowers and other natural objects while her mind continues to be still. She finds inspiration from the golden sound that resides in silence. “These offerings are reflections of the inexpressible, a gesture which points towards life’s abundance, an unspoken verse of Love,” Klein writes. “The danmalas remind us all to listen to the unheard voice of nature, creation, and the eternal mystery.”
If you too are a plant lover (or mandala lover), Klein has many, many more danmalas on her website. (Via Faith is Torment)
When vegetal artist Duy Anh Nhan Duc and photographer Isabelle Chapuis collaborate, the resulting images of people and flowers are anything but cliché. The series “Etamine” (stamen) and “Dandelion” are elegant and surreal, beautifully conceptual and expertly shot.
In “Etamine” a somewhat androgynous man is adorned in black and red and purple and yellow. “Fragile compositions of thousands of petals: carnations, anemones, irises and chrysanthemums merge with the skin.” The petals resemble feathers, as if these are sensual and captivating birds preening for the camera.
“Duy Anh Nhan Duc is an artist who handles vegetal art in a very singular way.… He merges plants with human bodies, integrates them with objects, combines them with his drawings or stages them though his short-films. Through his work, he weaves a poetic world where plants rule as masters.”
Like its seed head, “Dandelion” feels more fragile, suspended in time, as if the female model is holding her breath. Shot against a black background, the dandelion seeds are as impossibly delicate as snow or fog. Where in “Etamine” the petals have merged with the male figure, the seeds in “Dandelion” are ephemeral, pausing for a moment before floating away on a breath or a breeze.
Chapuis says, “I’m very inspired by the aesthetic movement in painting, Tim Walker. C’est l’art pour l’art. Art for its own sake. It’s only about emotion. I don’t want to accomplish anything beyond appealing to peoples’ senses”. (Source)
These series are proof of the magic that can happen when two extremely talented artists combine forces to make captivating work. (Via Ignant)
In her series “Flower Power,” photographer Sophie Gamand has overcome her childhood fear of dogs by photographing Pit Bulls—wearing flower crowns.
“This project started as an excuse for me to discover more about pit bulls, and to see for myself what the debate was about. Were they really all crazy and dangerous? Or were most of them simply the victims of a generalization? … ‘Flower Power’ is about challenging myself to approach pit bulls with a fresh perspective and an open heart. I invite the viewer to do the same.”
The term Pit Bull designates an appearance, not a breed, and until fairly recently Pit Bulls were considered America’s Dog. What happened? Some states and counties have introduced breed specific legislation and outright bans to make it illegal to own a dog that even looks like a pit bull. They can be killed based on the way they look regardless of their temperament or previous history.
Though Gamand shares her concern with other Pit Bull defenders, for example Pitproject600 which also uses photography to show the gentle side of these dogs, the soft-focus, Photoshopped backgrounds of the dog pictures and the sweet flower crowns are an inventive and charming concept.
“The imagery associated with these dogs is often harsh, very contrasted, conveying the idea of them being tough. In my opinion, this feeds the myth that these dogs are dormant psychopaths. So I decided to take the other route and portray them like hippies, soft fairy-tale-inspired characters, feminine and dreamy.”
Thirty percent of the total dogs admitted to U.S. animal shelters are labeled as pit bulls, and 86.7 percent of pit bulls admitted to open admission shelters end up being killed. With her fairy-tale photos of dreamy eyed dogs, Sophie Gamand wants to give these dogs another chance. (Via Fast Company)
Ceramic artist Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper collaborate to create a stunning installation commemorating the centennial of the First World War. A scarlet sea of 888,246 ceramic red poppies will be “planted” around the Tower of London. Titled “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”, the installation pays tribute to soldiers who perished during the war.
For the past few weeks, volunteers have been carefully placing the flowers all around the famous dry moat around the Tower. Poppies burst through one of the windows and then flow loosely, forming an arch over the footbridge to the castle. Each poppy represents a soldier from the United Kingdom and its colonies who was killed during WWI. Cummings says he was inspired by a line in the will of a soldier from Derbyshire.
“I don’t know his name or where he was buried or anything about him. But this line he wrote, when everyone he knew was dead and everywhere around him was covered in blood, jumped out at me: ‘The blood-swept lands and seas of red, where angels fear to tread.’ I believe he meant the angels to refer to his children.”
Poppy is considered a flower of remembrance in Britain. The reason is because most of the soldiers died fighting in the trenches in the poppy fields of Flanders.
The blooming field will continue to grow throughout the summer. The final flower will be symbolically planted on November 11th, Armistice Day. The ceramic blossoms are for sale for £25 ($42) each. 10 percent of the proceeds go to benefit six different charities. You can find out more about the project by following the #TowerPoppies hashtag on Twitter. (via Colossal)
For her series Natura Morta, the Russian photographer Maria Ionova-Gribina gives burials to dead animals. Much like fellow artist Emma Kiesel, she finds her deceased subjects abandoned on roadsides. Biking to the sea in summer, she was confronted with roadkill and creatures who had died of natural causes.
Where most might avert their eyes, she examined the called bodies, adorning them with fresh blossoms tenderly picked from her own garden or nearby flower beds. Yet she does not remove or bury the remains; instead, she allows the process of photographing them to stand in for funerary rites, poignantly preserving them in her lens instead of in the earth.
After having these powerful post-mortem portraits taken, the animals are once again vulnerable to the decay and ravages of death, but in this single magnificent instant, their humble yet miraculous existences are celebrated and revered. Juxtaposed against bloodied muzzles, open wounds and limbed stiffened by death are ripe, vibrant flowers symbolizing life and rebirth. On these breathtaking beds of pink, blue, and deep red hues, the creatures appear to be simply sleeping.
Over these dead bodies, we are invited to mourn the individual as well as the fact of our own lost innocence. The series itself is inspired by Ionova-Gribina’s childhood, when she and her brother would bury dead animals they discovered in their paths. Where the adult gaze scans over reminders of death, perhaps the child’s engages with them, and grieves the inevitable hold of mortality. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
After soaking them for thirty minutes in freezing liquid nitrogen, the New York based photographer Jon Shireman hurls flowers onto a hard, white surface, causing them to shatter into hundreds of pieces. The series, titled Broken Flowers, plays on our assumption that flowers are soft and supple; as an integral part of much still life photography, the blossoms normally symbolize youth and delicate feminine beauty. Under Shireman’s lens, however, the flora is transformed into something cold and hard. Against a sterile white backdrop, they appear sterile and brittle, a far cry from the spring buds that blow in the wind.
Throughout his career, Shireman has maintained a connection with flowers in decay; in other still lifes, he has cataloged the wilting of tulips and mums. This series, unlike those previous, is brutal and instantaneous. Where his other flowers underwent a slow, gradual death, these broken flowers are quickly frozen and violently ruptured. The process captured here is not a natural one but one that necessitates the use of a manmade element.
With almost surgical precision, Shireman’s lens focusses on the fallen flower, and he abandons the moody, romantic lighting he uses elsewhere in favor of high resolution and vivid color. Though flattened, the shattered blossoms maintain their basic structure; the bud, the stem, and the leaf can still be made out. The very veins of the plant are preserved by the liquid nitrogen. In this way, the flowers look like dead bodies in some unusual crime scene, outlined yet robbed of their living essence. Take a look. (via iGNANT, Feature Shoot, and Agonistica)
The Singapore-based fashion designer Grace Ciao first started using flower petals in her illustrations when a boy gave her a rose; sad to see the gift wither and die, she incorporated it into a sketch of of a cocktail dress. Soon, the 22-year-old designer began using flowers in all of her creations, from party dresses to bridal gowns. From a single rose stem, she can create up to six separate designs.
The multidimensionality of the petals lends Ciao’s designs a unique and vibrant range; shadow and curve work together to flatter and accentuate the human body. The artist prefers to use flowers that contain within them a multitude of shades and tones; from their natural coloration, she can divine innovative prints and patterns. The garment and the floral organism dictate one another’s movements and structure; a falling yellow petal forms a ruffled embellishment or a bold one-shoulder sleeve, and the white ends of a tulip are layered exquisitely.
Ciao has a unique talent for making all colors, textures, and shapes look appealing and extravagant; an inexpensive carnation and a pricey orchid create equally luxurious garments. One can only imagine that as the petals wilt and eventually die, the garments go through a magical metamorphosis, transforming from fire-engine red to blood red and ultimately to a deep burgundy. As we move into summer, Ciao’s work is a delightful tribute to the ever-changing seasons and to the cycle of life and death. We cannot wait to see what she has in store as new flowers come into bloom. (via Demilked and Buzzfeed)
The artist Jess Riva Cooper’s Viral Series imagines the human body overtaken by malevolent plant life; like the bodies of the dead, her ceramic women busts are infected with ivy, flowers, and insects. Inspired by the Hebrew figures of the golem and the dybbuk, the viral females occupy a space between life and death; like golem, they are anthropomorphic beings brought to life by human (as opposed to divine) hands, but they are also seemingly suffocated by roots that harken back to the cleavage of the ominous dybbuk, a departed soul that fixes itself to the body of a living person. The word “dybbuk,” in fact, arrises from the Hebrew verb for “sticking from the root.”
Unlike the figures of Yiddish folklore, Cooper’s busts are female, modeled after the seductive sculpted faces of Classical Greece. Closing resembling the great alluring forms like Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cnidus, these figures abandon the feminine piety in favor of an ecstatic sexuality; serpentine vines crawl across their tender cheeks, and their mouths open wide to give birth to lush roses or to allow passage to fertile swarms of scarab beetles. Their eyes appear to roll back in sensual pleasure; their teeth gnaw on thick roots.
Cooper’s series seems to draw on ancient and Judeo-Christian mythology to construct a cohesive and elaborate narrative of female creative power; these women represent death and birth in equal measure. As the bodies of the dead are consumed by insects, they ultimately give rise to blossoming flora. This strange and natural cycle of rebirth serves as a metaphor for the artist’s beloved Detroit, where buildings and homes succumb to financial ruin and are eventually overgrown with feral plant life. Take a look. (via Colossal and HiFructose)