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.
Israeli artist Zemer Peled creates sculptures using countless ceramic shards. Each individual element is a small part of a greater whole, and their sharp and pointed edges form a single beautiful form that’s inspired by flowers or sea creatures. Through careful arrangement, these forms bloom and breath like the real thing.
Peled uses blue cobalt found in designs and landscapes from traditional Japanese pottery as her raw materials. Subtle lines and patterns create the textures for flower petals and other attributes. To make this possible, the artist uses a slab roller to build sheets of clay that are fired and then broken with a hammer. What’s incredible is not only the meticulous nature of assembling and placing each piece, but its the uniformity that they all have. Although Peled’s work is comprised of countless parts, each of them is the same. (Via Colossal)
London-based artist Jessica Dance specializes in creating handcrafted models, props, and sets that have a wide-range of commercial appeal clients include Vogue, Vanity Fair, Google, and more). Her work features a lot of conventional, everyday objects reimagined in a delightful, unconventional way. Dance knits food, toothbrushes, and even calculators on her domestic knitting machine, and it’s a playful twist on the real thing.
The knitted pieces are made from wool, and they look like something you’d want to snuggle up with. It’s an odd feeling to want to hug a giant turkey, but that’s the power of fiber arts (or any art, really). We attach associations to materials and sometimes nostalgia prompts us to touch, pet, or squeeze brussel sprouts and meatballs.
San Francisco-based artist Lizabeth Eva Rossoff has created a mashup of iconic statues and and characters in contemporary popular culture. By physically combining China’s ancient Terracotta Army with the heads of Bart Simpson, Batman, and Mickey Mouse, they fuse Eastern and Western culture. Rossoff class her series Xi’an American Warriors.
The artist explains that her work, “playfully explores the concerns of American media’s global influence and China’s industry of counterfeiting the copyrighted properties held by said media.” In essence, these sculptures represent a cycle.
Each stately clay piece stands 18 inches tall, and their appearance was created by using the same process that built the original third century BCE warriors from Lintong District, Xi’an Shaanxi province. She even worked with a Terracotta Warrior replica studio in Xi’an who make their clay sculptures using the same ground that was used so long ago. And, for a limited time, these artworks are available to buy on her website. (Via Endless Geyser of Awesome)
Korean artist Choi Xooang creates sculptures that you’d see in your nightmares. The grotesque artworks are made out of resin and shocking in the brutal ways that they manipulate the human body. Severed limbs, skin corsets, and people-made backpacks are all featured in these pale, hyperreal mutant characters. Although they feature exquisite craftsmanship (the life-like details are stunning), it’s hard to get away from subject matter.
His existentialist creatures, in the torments of their flesh and their contradictions, become our double dumb and clueless. The artist says that emotions are the only things given to a man or woman apart from their social status in the functioning of a capitalist society. Choi Xooang not only gives us his own feelings but attempts to retrieve a collective soul, a chart of all the sufferings and joys experienced by everyone.
We see these types of feelings represented; while there is pain, there is also sensuality between the characters, and even some eroticism shown throughout the strange hybrid people. With this, Choi communicates that pain and pleasure can walk a thin line. (Via Hi Fructose)