Jess de Wahls is a London-based artist whose colorful multilayered and multifaceted textile works incorporate feminism, gender equality as well as recycling. Using a variety of fabrics, beads, and other materials, she creates 3D portraits that depict strong, inspirational women of all ages, shapes, and ethnicities. She sees her pieces as a way to raise awareness of gender inequality, explaining to TextileArtist.org, “…all the while celebrating great minds and artists of the past and present.”
In her artist statement, de Wahls also goes on to say:
Their influence on myself as a modern woman, Feminist and Artist, on Feminism as a whole and on their position as Role models to young girls growing up in a society that has, no doubt, come a long way in liberating its women but has yet a great length ahead of it. Not to mention the work that needs to be done in other parts of our planet, where women are to date still oppressed, belittled and generally treated as second class humans.
So, by creating these pieces, she ensures that their legacy isn’t forgotten.
De Wahls unique style is the product of a self-made called Retex which is short for recycled textile sculpture. She explains:
For the medium of Retex Sculpting, old garments serve as fabric for the works and cushion filler helps me to create a relief that raises the silhouette off the canvas creating greater depth.
The box-frame, in which the work is mounted, is integral to the piece and can be seen as a modern day relic box. (Via TextileArtist.org)
Artist Gianluca Traina’s series titled Portrait 360 combines photography and sculpture to create alluring, mysterious objects. Mannequin-esque heads are covered in distorted, mosaic-looking squares that are simultaneously recognizable humans yet pixelated and indiscernible. To craft these works, Traina first shoots photos of anonymous subjects and focuses on their faces. He then uses a warp and weft technique to weave the 2D-images into 3D paper busts.
In the blurred surface photos, you can tell where the skin ends and the hair begins, as well as where features like the eyes and nose are. But, those things don’t always match up with the attributes of a bust. Eyes are on the back of the head and hair covers the nose and mouth. There’s no front or back anymore, and instead there’s a constant play between photographed surface and the sculpted one. (Via Hi Fructose)
Philadelphia-based artist Mike Tanis produces intricate paper sculptures using a combination of origami and kirigami techniques. If you’re not familiar with what those are, they’re Japanese art forms that fold and cut paper in complex ways without the help of glue. Here, Tanis has used these methods to create abstract structures that appear soft and wavy as well as splintered and fractured. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell that they’re made of paper.
Tanis tells Quanta Magazine that he uses a scalpel to make any cuts and doesn’t use directions or crease patterns. “I start with a folding technique or principle and improvise once I start to feel the 3d form developing,” he explains. The results are dramatic forms that are reminiscent of architecture and nature. His taller, cut-paper structure mimic skyscrapers while his completely-folded pieces conjure images of the beach or a mountainscape.
It’s no secret that Melbourne-based artist Phil Ferguson is fond of food. After all, giant slices of crocheted pizza, cracked eggs, bacon, hot dogs, and much more are strapped onto the top or side of his head. They take the form of decorative hats and costumes that frame the wearer’s face, and their larger-than-life scale makes them a delight. Ferguson posts as @chiliphilly on Instagram where he has 14.2K fans (at the time of writing).
The artist is originally from Perth in Western Australia, and he started crocheting the food and sharing on Instagram as a way to connect with other artists in the area. It all began with a burger that was inspired by Tuck Shop Take Away, his place of work. “From that point onward I thought about how to do food hats,” he told Daily Mail. “[Food] has been the most accessible thing people can relate to and it will stay that way until I’m bored.”
Depending on the design, Ferguson is able to complete a piece in two to three days. The artist describes himself as a self-taught crocheter (he watched instructional YouTube videos) who has never learnt to read patterns. Even so, he’s crafted 24 delectable creations so far. (Via Daily Mail and Milk Made)
Encased in white-framed boxes are Crystal Wagner’s intricate cut paper sculptures. Like specimens meant for studying, parts of textured tentacles and honeycomb-esque patterns wrap around themselves as well as non-representational wavy shapes. Wagner’s work is meticulous, and each scalloped edge has its own slightly-curled edge. It’s reminiscent of a dragon or a reptile, but not one that we’ve ever seen before. The vibrant colors feature jewel-toned gradients that push her sculptures from quasi-reality into full-blown fantasy.
These works first made their appearance at the Hashimoto Contemporary gallery in San Francisco in 2014. Her exhibition was titled Synesthesia, and the intention was to explore the psychological realm between the familiar and strange. The gallery writes, “…combining screen printing, cut paper and various dollar store items, Wagner meticulously assembles her sculptures with a sense of organic growth. Allowing her materials to build upon themselves, layer by layer, each structure swells into a mass of movement, as if grown from the soil of another planet.”
Artist Marlene Hartmann Rasmussen’s series Nightfall explores what’s beyond the land that we know – in this case, the forest. Through intricately detailed ceramic sculptures, she creates pieces that are familiar-yet-strange. Acorns double as eggs in a bird’s nest that are tended to by butterflies. Large worms curl up in the same way that you’d see a cat, while others drift over heart-shaped pieces of wood. These beautiful oddities examine the forest as a metaphor for dark, unknown parts of our identities. Rasmussen explains:
The forest as a place of enchantment is a recurring theme in European literature and myth, and can be traced back to primitive mans awe and fear of nature which gave rise to ancient cults and pagan rituals.
The forest is a metaphor for the hidden realms of the unconscious mind, a social construction that simultaneously embraces the sinister darkness in which the savage and beastly thrive on the other hand the supernatural, romantic and nostalgic world of the fairy tale.
Artist Stefanie Herr’s topographic artworks are inspired by maps. When traveling, she writes, they facilitate navigation and orientation, and drawings by cartographers are the starting point of her work. To create her sculptures, images are printed on photographic paper, mounted on matboard, hand cut into tiny pieces and assembled. They resemble maps that show changes in elevation once completed. But, instead of rivers, plains, and mountains, Herr features faces of people.
She calls these pieces experiments on landscapes models that merge photography and sculpture. They often take weeks to complete. In an artist statement, Herr writes:
Photography abandons the two-dimensional plane and sets out to conquer the space. In search of suitable maps, however, I do not only focus on the shape of the terrain, but also on place names. As toponyms can inspire strong images or even stories, they often interfere in the development of my projects. When shooting photos, I mainly choose top, side and front view representations – I particularly like making use of “aerial” views on a scale of 1:1.
In addition to this inspiration, Herr is also concerned about environmental degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity. She further explains:
Unique natural heritage is gradually being depleted or replaced for the mere purpose of economic growth, and it seems that we have completely forgotten about the aesthetic values of landscape. As a world citizen, I am concerned about contemporary landscape change and the prevailing landscape perception. Topographic Fine Art mainly deals with these issues and, even though on a reduced scale, attempts to capture some of the natural beauty that surrounds us. (Via Lustik)
In artist Eleanor Davies’ piece titled Over 200 Beautiful Colors, she crafts a traditional yarn pom pom (like something you’d see on a beanie), but on steroids. Using wool, newspaper, and rope, Davies wraps donut-shaped discs with yarn and stacks them on top of one another. They become a mountain of wound wool, and finally she cuts the edges of every disc. This releases the fibers around the cardboard, and they form a larger-than-life ball of fringe.
The result of this tedious effort is something that you want to touch and maybe even hug. And, that’s Davies’ intention. She wants the viewer to desire an interaction with it. But, at the same time, she also wants to you to feel some sort of repulsion to it. Even though it’s a magnificent and incredible piece, you compare it to what other smaller, more perky-looking pom poms look like. This, in all its glory, droops as gravity has got the best of it. “The oscillation between attraction and repulsion is experienced through the disruption of taste values,” Davies writes in an artist statement. “Sculptures seek attention and flaunt themselves in such a way that they ask for it.”
The slow and meticulous construction of Over 200 Beautiful Colors is akin to a beautiful regime. Davies goes on to say:
In appropriating the sculpting techniques of hairdressing; extensions and highlights are added to slowly modify and enhance a sculpture’s look. The compulsive desire to reconfigure, reinvent, re-cut and re-colour is due to the satisfaction gained through succumbing to the lure of the surface. The process of overworking the sculptural surface is self indulgent and my practice embraces and revels in this.