Ilona Szwarc’s American Girls

Ilona Szwarc is a photographer originally from Poland who now lives in the United States and has rightfully fascinated with American Culture. American Girls, named after the doll series, is a study of said culture that investigates gender,beauty, and identity in the context of decks with cadillac barbecues, country mansions, and skyscraper porches. The style of her photographs is, like the our culture encourages us to be, perfect, too–styling the girls exactly and directing them to look as expressionless as the dolls they cherish. But the images aren’t condescending, exploitative, or preachy–they just express a genuine interest in the hyperbole that is American gender culture. Still in the SVA already with a body of Diane Arbus quality work, keep your eye out for great things to come from this girl. (via)

Video Watch: Fashion Designer Jeff Staple Interviews James Jean

James Jean is interviewed by NYC fashion designer Jeff Staple in this really nice video from a few months back that runs about 11 and a half minutes. Jean, the fairly prominent Los Angeles based illustrator and fine artist, opens up about his work and his time at SVA. Apparently, to get as good as Jean, you have to work pretty hard. Who knew?

Catch the full interview after the jump.

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Ran Hwang’s Large, Zen-Infused Installations Made of Beads

Brooklyn based SVA grad Ran Hwang makes these huge, flowing sculptures with nothing but beads and pins! The uplifting, spiritual elements involved here work really well with the light, dispersed beads. You can almost see the birds’ wings flapping, and everything seems sort of frozen in time at some climactic, freeing moment. Obviously the Zen influence is deliberate. From the artist’s website: “The process of building large installations are time consuming and repetitive and it requires manual effort which provides a form of self-meditation. I hammer thousands of pins into a wall like a monk who, facing the wall, practices Zen.” I guess patience does pay off. (via)

Animalistic Paintings with Eastern Aesthetics from Brooklyn Artist Mu Pan

SVA grad Mu Pan brings East Asian woodblock aesthetics to his colorful, animated paintings. Not much of a “Zen” vibe is to be found here, though. Full of life, the Brooklyn artist’s work explodes off the canvas in a rush of sex and violence. Base, animalistic sensibilities are collected and processed en masse within each piece, and hardly any opportunity for impact is passed over. Really engrossing stuff, whether the focus is placed on a few central figures, or all-encompassing atmosphere.