Mark Jenkins’ sculptures occupy the uncanny valley. His work, in which he recreates the human body, places “people” into odd and often disturbing situations. Some of them are as fantastic as they are strange. One of the most interesting parts of Jenkins’ work is the way they are installed. His people are on the streets. They are life sized and dressed in conventional clothing, so they look as though they belong in the landscape. In reality, they don’t. His sculptures are standing in trash cans, on the edge of buildings, face first into a public fountain, and more.
Seeing Jenkins’ work amongst people is partially what makes it so successful. Seeing the reactions of others to these sculptures is both amusing and at times discerning. People walk by them as if they are nothing, as if they are completely normal. Sure, they stare at them, but they are never captured intervening on their behalf. Some, of course, aren’t believable. Others, like a woman stuck in a trashcan or laying on the top of the billboard would elicit some reaction. But, instead, she remains in the can.
The subversive nature of Jenkins’ installations is satisfying, especially if you are in on the joke and know it’s all fake. You could watch people for hours as they pass by, try and interact with the sculptures, and ultimately fail. The artist is taking the art outside the gallery and entering a world that combines art lovers and non-art lovers alike. (Via Hi Fructose)
Using an assortment of discarded paper goods and household items, artist Lisa Hoke creates large-scale collage installations on walls. From afar, you might not realize what materials that she’s used, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice there are cardboard boxes, trading cards, cups, plates, cups, stickers, and more. The use of these items is Hoke’s way of commenting on the amount of refuse we produced and how we overlook the beauty of these objects. She’s right. If you think about all of the work that goes into designing and producing packaging, then it is a shame to discard it. Her color-coordinating, lusciously textured work gives these objects a second life and a chance for viewers to appreciate it beyond it’s primary function. Hoke even allows them to participate by donating items to be used in her work.
In an article in Arts Sarasota, Hoke says, “Castaway treasures become my tools for expression of beauty.” Her work unfolds organically, as she recognizes that you can’t completely plan for any installation.When she’s finished, the work is often a surprise to not only the viewers, but herself.
There is a both a visual delight and over stimulation that comes from looking at Hoke’s installations. This representation of our over-abundant consumer culture has a dizzying amount of bright colors, logos and patterns. They vibrate against each other, competing for our attention. Here, it seems the old adage “art imitates life” rings true. (Via Junk Culture)
In the midst of the holiday season, with record cold temperatures in parts of the world and Winter Solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year, upon us, I’ve been spending time studying work made with a simple organic material: Ice. Truth be told, despite spending my childhood in Minnesota, I now live in the desert, and the only ice I see is in my drinking glass. After studying art works made with ice as a central material, I am struck by a number of repeated inclinations by a number of artists. Much of the works I present here demonstrate that the transitory and temporal qualities of ice lend it to meaningful works about the body, time, climate, a sense of place and elements of endurance. Though this list is in no way exhaustive, artists included are: Marina Abramovic, Jay Atherton and Cy Keener, Nele Azavedo, Kirsten Justesen, Greatest Hits (a collective), Julie Rrap and Tavares Strachan.
Artists are magicians in their own right for making something from nothing, for infusing the everyday mundane tools and objects with poetic meaning and creating a whole new experience from it. In the holiday season, with a good part of society taking part in excess shopping, people are becoming increasingly conscious of what we discard. Our relationship to the accumulation of stuff and the level of waste humans produce seems to be collectively shifting. The artists whose work is shared here: David Ellis, Vik Muniz, Gabriel Kuri, Song Dong, Tim Noble and Sue Webster demonstrate the way individual artistic voices arise from this consciousness and the beautiful and often magical work that is informed by our accumulated or discarded stuff.
Chinese sculptor Liu Xue combines a human with an animal, creating a hybrid being. Each being has a human head with animal appendage (or appendages). A man is merged with a pig, a woman with a chicken, a man with a dog, and more.The result is something we haven’t seen before, one that seems non-threatening, but still grotesque at the same time. Xue has honed his craft and painted the sculptures to be so life like that they fall into the uncanny valley.
Xue’s choice to pair a human with an animal seem to be because it’s funny, and the hybrids fit with each other thematically. For instance, a giant, bald man is given the tiny wings of a bat. Another work pits this same man with a seahorse bottom. We know both of these creatures are tiny, and the disparity in size is what makes it humorous. Other sculptures aren’t so amusing. An older man is combined with the body of greyhound dog. The gaunt appearance of the dog’s body and pained look on the man’s face makes this piece somber.
The unnatural combination of Xue’s work explores the notion of what’s considered attractive or glamourous. A naked, conventionally pretty woman, for instance, is given the unwieldy feet of a chicken. Likewise, a young man has the same features. In the artist’s attempt to make both appear seductive, it’s hard to imagine these creatures moving gracefully.
Young-Deok Seo uses the human figure as the core of his work, though material is an ever present, and surprisingly inventive, concern. Using bought and discarded bicycle chains, the young South Korean artist spends months constructing and welding his pieces, with larger pieces taking even longer. Although the majority of his intricate constructions are manifested through the human form, there is an ever-present emotional quality present, oftentimes that of hurt and loss. While some figures physiques are the pinnacle of human perfection, others are faceless, in positions of mourning, or shattered upon the gallery floor. The viewer can easily make the assumption that the links Seo uses go past material and into metaphor, connecting chains to our manufactured, and fractured, world.
The artist explains, “We get to deal with lots of relationships in our fiercely competitive society. And from those relationships, we get desire for materials.To portray the mankind as a being which are bound to many things around them, I use the material that is also bound and also connected to each other….material restrict and choke each other.Modern people’s addiction to the material can be stood up as a main theme, in this way.” (via myampgoesto11)
Artist Kate MacDowell uses porcelain clay to craft her nature-inspired works. MacDowell’s works are realistically sculpted and meticulous. Hollowing out a solid form and building each piece leaf by leaf and feather by feather, she intimately involves herself with the process of building. The works themselves are beautiful, ghostly white and evoke a very serene feeling. Upon a closer examination, however, things aren’t quite right. A large bird has human hands instead of its normal claws, and an apple has a tiny skull inside of it. Mice have ears on their backs. MacDwell explains in a statement, writing:
In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment. These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops. They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones. In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world. In others, animals take on anthropomorphic qualities when they are given safety equipment to attempt to protect them from man-made environmental threats. In each case the union between man and nature is shown to be one of friction and discomfort with the disturbing implication that we too are vulnerable to being victimized by our destructive practices.
The careful construction and fragility of material MacDowell has chosen coincides conceptually with her work.
Walter Robinson creates amusing sculptures that work as witty social criticisms about consumerism and popular culture.
I’m fascinated by the human drive to possess material objects and by our intransigent attachment to the things we own. In my work I investigate the ways that consumer products have been crafted to perpetuate hunger for more. Brand and corporate logos, mascots, cartoon characters, advertising text and signage are the semiotic sources I draw from.
Robinson subverts meanings of familiar brands and Western cultural symbols by tweaking their scale, context and color.
With marketing and adverting psychology in mind, Robinson uses seductive surfaces, saturated color, bling and glitter to draw his audience to examine their own relationship to consumer culture and it’s effect on the environment and world events.