Photographer Jonathan May reveals a poignant narrative of the lives of former Mexican gang members now united through a love of art and tattoos. This series, titled Desert Ink, explores a compelling story of eight men now leading honest lives away from the troubles of their past. Coming from a background filled with gangs, violence, drugs, and death, the men have set out for a new life to change their fate and future. Now living in Indio, California, these once criminals are bonded together in a different kind of brotherhood, one that is connected through their passion for tattoo art.
The men, Chip, Dreamer, Sinner, Lazz, Assault, Case 1, Angel, and G-Money, all began tattooing due to unforeseen circumstances. Those of them who spent time in prison began tattooing themselves and other fellow inmates. The others were also self-taught, creating homemade tattoo guns to pursue their newfound artistic talent. The eight of them, now working in their own shop, find redemption and purpose in focusing on something as positive and meaningful as tattoo art. It is a chance to make a permanent imprint on someone, almost literally. By rechanneling their efforts and talents into a constructive outlet, these men have found a shared talent that has united them for life. Jonathan May sheds a warm light on men who by no means have had it easy, but have found a way to change their lives for the better. (via FeatureShoot)
Polish photographer Pola Esther takes us behind the scenes of the concert film of the K-Pop world’s hottest band, Big Bang. Although the South Korean band’s five infamous members star in this film, Esther has turned an eye onto the bad girls that steal the show. The unforgettable women in the film include Gia Genevieve, Stephanie Shiu, TK, and Briana Michelle, and cameo appearance of James Goldstein. The photographer gives us a glimpse behind the scenes us of the powerhouse characters on set.
The creators of the film, Dikayl Rimmasch and Ed Burke, have had their hand in cinematic music videos before. They also collaborated on Jay-Z and Beyonce’s film “Bang Bang” featured during “On the Run” tour which has a similar film noir feel as the Big Bang’s film. The film’s unmistakable style pulls inspiration from American mythology. This incredibly dramatic film portrays the group in high-speed car chases, like that of the Fast and the Furious, and Tarantino-like scenes similar to Reservoir Dogs that are full of high tension. Esther, now based in New York City, has a photographic style that fits together perfectly with the seductive qualities of the film directors’ approach. Her work takes us one step deeper, showing us a little of whom these bad girls are in the film. Each photograph holds a sense of classic mystery, with the flair of old Hollywood. Make sure to check out more of Esther’s captivating and sensual photographs on her website.
What would a television see if it could look back at us? Artist Donna Stevens reveals images of children hypnotically looking into a television screen in her series titled Idiot Box. Each photographs captures the entranced look on a child’s face as they gaze on with a zombie-like stare, complete with the glow of the screen lighting up their face. Although this series is somewhat comical, as the children have their mouths hanging open or a silly grimace slapped on, there is a heavy darkness to it. Stevens’s aims to question the role of technology in our society and explore the effects it may have as children are exposed to it at such a young age at such a high volume. Although we can benefit from technology, what is lacking in our lives because of it? Although Idiot Box includes fairly simple images, the affect the vacant eyes have on the viewer is enough to make you stop and think.
Stevens’ incredibly memorable photography explores themes of identity and hardship, as she is interested in people’s journey to find their place in the world. Humanity’s struggles can be found as a theme in her work, both in Idiot Box and in her series Thirteen. In the latter series, she poignantly captures the anxiety and uncertainty that comes along with becoming a woman. Stevens’ ability to encompass such strong emotions and themes in a single portrait is apparent in each photograph. Originally hailing from Australia, the photographer is currently based in Brooklyn, where she continues to create her sharp, thought provoking work.
The work of Los Angeles based artist Nike Schroeder is full of a complex hybrid of mediums, as she integrates textiles, painting, and installation into her art. Her installations are creates from fiber where the colors of the threads have a very intentional meaning, as they draw their palette from the hues of the horizon at dawn. In one installation, the thread cascades to the floor, dripping off the canvas. Schroeder includes this same aesthetic in many of her other works, including her embroidery. The artist creates portraits out of needle and thread, with certain colors of thread hanging loose so to draw your eye to certain areas. Often, these bright colors and hanging thread come from the subject’s eyes or lips. Other times, this thread is not hanging loose, but cutting across to the other side of the canvas, dissecting the composition with multi-colored fibers. The harsh line Schroeder imposes onto her portraits guides your eye to specific elements.
As if Schroeder’s fiber-based installations and intricate embroideries were not impressive enough, many of her textile pieces are extremely large. Her nude portraits of women, which examine the beauty ideals of the female body, are actually life-size! These, again, contain long, hanging thread pouring down from certain elements, jolting our eyes to an “unlikely” part of the women; their pubic hair. This series among others in Schroeder’s expansive body of work include not only thread but paint as well. The artist often applies paint like she does fiber, with flowing drips. Schroeder’s work can be seen on view at Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles from May 30th through July 11th.
Artist James Bullough channels the spirit of graffiti and street art in his incredible figure paintings. He combines a realistic style with a geometric twist that breaks his paintings into fractured imagery, creating an additional element of line and shape. Each image is close to Realism, as his figures look like they are out of a photograph. However, Bullough creates a disruption in the rhythm, like a glitch in the painting that alters its shape. He dissects his figures into different segments, dramatically cutting right through the composition in carefully placed segments. If the artist does not slice across the painting with shifting fragments and splashes of paint, then he creates patterns from the missing pieces. In several of his paintings, Bullough leaves out pieces of the figure’s body. These precise chunks of the composition that he leaves out create different patterns and shapes sprawling across his work.
Although Bullough’s paintings are created in oil paint, the artist is also known for his skills with spray paint. He is not only a talented painter, but also an unbelievable muralist with works all over the world. Originally from Washington D.C., Bullough now resides in Berlin, Germany, home of a plethora of talented street artists. In a city filled with amazing murals, Bullough’s work stands out, as his combination of hyperrealism mixed with elements of fractured imagery certainly demands your attention. Influenced by urban graffiti, the artist creates work that embodies the flavor of the streets while still harnessing incredible technical skill.
Like floating into a dream, Jason Mitchell’s photography takes you into a new place of existence, stuck between worlds. His series Dream Away displays ghostly bodies in a different state of being, exploring a sense of awakening. Inspired by metamorphosis, his figures are placed in a blank space, not knowing exactly where they are except for in a place of uncertainty. Even still, they seem tranquil and ready for whatever is to come next. Each image contains an ethereal quality, as the figures delicately glide through the air. In this series, we cannot tell if Mitchell’s figures are falling or floating, as there is no sense of direction, like they are underwater. With bright whites and light shadows, the absence of almost all harsh shadows creates an angelic atmosphere around these women.
Hinting at themes of afterlife and a higher state of being, Mitchell’s figures almost do not appear to be human. They are transcending their bodies on a journey of oneself.
“I ask my subjects to explore a loss of control, but a sense that they are being guided, pushed and pulled by another sentient being, as they make their way to a new self. They represent the soul of a magical creature on a journey through the limbo that connects their past understandingto this new unknown.”
– Jason Mitchell
Although all of Mitchell’s work holds a striking beauty, his series Dream Away truly exhibits stunning detail and imagery. Photographs from this majestic series will be on view at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, CA until May 30th.
Artist Pawel Bajew is a master of contorting the body and creating an oddly beautiful scene constructed from simple objects. In his series titled Freaks, the photographer creates surreal images of seemingly mutated bodies and disembodied limbs. However, disfigured his figures may appear, this effect is created mainly through simple minimal objects under the clothing or strangely placed props covering identifying parts of the body like the face or limbs. His cleverly placed mannequin parts and wigs form surreal scenes, some filled with isolation, others with humor. Each strange situation is not unlike a film still; holding dramatic poses and staged lighting. His figures seem tormented in some way, with the bodies twisting and bending in abnormal ways. The faces are often hidden in this series, distorting the identity of the person and causing an eerie, psychological effect on the viewer.
This intriguing, Polish-based photographer also captures amazing portraits full of detail and originality. His portraits are filled with self-portraits as well as others, embodying an eclectic group of eccentric individuals. Each subject seems like a fictional character, filled with exaggerated expressions and over the top costumes straight out of a novel. Bajew’s portraits are not without humor, as some figures have funny expressions, but also have a darkness about them, just like his series Freaks. His body of work as a whole personifies a distinct mood and peculiar atmosphere about it that leaves it distinguishable and unique.
Society has long had a fascination with dolls and the creepy connotations that come along with them, with such horror films as Child’s Play confirming our worst nightmares. Photographer Annie Collinge is no exception. Her own uncomfortable feeling associated with dolls has created a bizarre fascination inspiring her series 5 Inches From Limbo, which includes photographs of dolls with their human counterparts. Collinge find vintage, strange looking dolls in thrift shops and flea markets, and finds a person in the flesh that resembles the doll. She even dresses her humans to mirror their doll, creating a surreal vision of a person alongside their miniature, porcelain self. Eerie as it may sound, her photographs are relentlessly intriguing while still holding an odd beauty.
Originally hailing from London, the artist had traveled to Manhattan when she found her first doll for the series. The inspiration came when she spotted a vintage doll that boar a surprising likeness to her Aunt Yolanda, outfit and all. After this encounter, she searched for interesting, antique dolls or people that look somewhat like dolls themselves to start the next pairing. She will then find a doll to match her subject, or dress a person to fit the part. Either way, each chosen person displays a striking resemblance to each unique doll, with cherub faces and big round eyes. You may be wondering where all of the dolls end up after the photograph is taken. Well, although a little disturbed by them, the artist keeps each and every one. Dolls often seem to hold a life of their own, and with the help of Collinge, her dolls have now transformed into real life human beings, however unnerving it may be. (via Featureshoot)