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.
Through the lens of Mona Kuhn, images turn into memories that slip through your fingers. Her photography captures fragmented pieces of time, filled with shameless beauty with an ethereal aura. An enigmatic narrative flows through her series Private, as Kuhn offers us delicate and intimate moments filled with breathtaking nudes and spider webs. Kuhn explains that this particular series is a personal journey of hers, exploring beauty and mysticism. The color palette in Private is serene, airy, and embracing all at the same time. Seeing each photograph of Kuhn’s is like uncovering a clue to a past life, like looking inwards through your memories that have slipped through the cracks of time.
In Kuhn’s equally stunning series Acido Dorado, translating to “acid gold”, the nude also appears often. Kuhn’s nudes represent a timeless sense of self, of all humans, and our direction on this earth. The artist often pushes the nude figure to abstraction, creating new context and meaning. There is a mysterious atmosphere that follows Kuhn’s work that is both seductive and mesmerizing. Both series’ are filled with surreal scenes and abstracted imagery that is like a mirage. Large format nude photography being a reoccurring theme in Kuhn’s work, she explains the draw to this raw form of a person or subject.
“I realized I ought to photograph the human in us, without shame, without regret, free and timeless.”
Menstrual Designer Jen Lewis and Photographer Rob Lewis are redefining body politics in their series Beauty in Blood. Together, they create breathtaking images with an unlikely, and, more often than not, taboo material; menstrual blood. The idea of using her own bodily fluid as a medium came to Jen Lewis after deciding to use a different kind of feminine care product; reusable collecting cup that she would use and then dump its substance into a toilet. She explains that seeing such a bright, red liquid swirl around stark, white porcelain was absolutely stunning. Believing that menstruation is a beautiful, natural part of life that is all too often avoided, the artist decided to capture it in remarkable photographs to open up a dialogue and shed some much needed light on the subject. Jen Lewis explains that this series is not meant to be shocking or vulgar, but exactly the opposite. Her and her partner Rob create each striking image through a process of design, care, and selection.
This series is a celebration of femininity, a look into a healthy part of every woman’s life that we are often taught to be ashamed or embarrassed of. This dynamic duo aims to change the social norm of menstruation being hidden or taboo in society by allowing the viewer to get up close and personal with a natural part of life, not to mention part of the cycle that creates life. Each image claims the true and honest beauty that this significant and momentous part of life deserves. The aesthetic appeal and allure this series holds breaks down the politics of women’s bodies that contemporary society tends to control. Jen Lewis elaborates on this subject. (via FeatureShoot)
“In my experience, women and men are hungry for an authentic dialogue about menstruation and all that encompasses. It is clear the time is now to stand up and speak out on behalf of menstruation. It is a natural, messy but beautiful part of life.”
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.
At first glance, this series by photographer Stacey Tyrell seems to portray nothing out of the ordinary, just portraits of white women living their lives. At closer inspection, however, you realize all of the women look the same; they share uncanny similarities with just a few differences in hair, eye, and skin color. In reality, Stacey Tyrell has staged these scenes representing depictions of Caucasian women using herself as a model. Interestingly enough, the artist herself is black. The title of Tyrell’s deeply memorable series is BackraBluid. Backra, originating from West Africa, means white master or person. Bluid is a Scotch word for the blood of men or kin. These two words combined represent two different points of origin in the artist’s family heritage. Tyrell explores her ancestry in this series, which includes English, Scottish, and Irish.
Most everyone in post-colonial societies, especially in the Western world, is the descendant of a diverse range of ancestry, producing many individuals with what may appear to be ambiguous ethnicities. These individuals may identify with one, multiple, or even none of their racial or cultural identities. However, by nature, humans want to make sense of their surrounding and tend to place others in categories. Stacey Tyrell has experienced this first hand. She explains the significance of this experience in relation to Backra Bluid.
Upon viewing my physical features I am automatically assigned a racial identity by whoever is looking at me. Skin color often obscures and over-rides the features and markers of other races that may be present in my genetic make-up. By simply changing my skin color and making subtle tweaks to my features I wish to show that if someone were to take a closer look at my face they would see that it might not be that much different from their own.
At first glance, the artwork of Alexandra Bastien appears to be photographs of a nude woman with a variety of skulls. However, the artist unbelievably renders her hyper-realistic drawings from layer upon layers of color pencil. Bastien’s astonishing ability to create such incredibly detailed drawings allows her to beautifully show the human body in a state of transition. The heavy symbolism that has long been attached to the skull in art history represents death. Bastien illustrates this concept in contrast to the soft, warm body of the nude woman. The women in her work are holding the skulls, embracing whatever darkness they may bring. In one drawing, both skull and human have even merged together in perfect balance. This balance of life and death is shown in a state of transition and transformation, exploring themes of rebirth and the afterlife. Seeing the many different skulls amongst a human in its natural state may be reminiscent to human origins and ancestry.
Bastien’s incredible, artistic skill and talent can be seen in this photorealistic series titled Taming the Beast. She finds inspiration in her natural fascination with the human body and form. The accomplishments of this Canadian artist are just as impressive as her skill. Her work has been included in several publications and magazines as well as been exhibited all over the world.
Alexandra Levasseur’s complex paintings are filled with emotion and beauty. With heavy brushstrokes dripping with color, she creates scenes of tormented women in a strange world filled with golden halos, burning asteroids, and melting faces. These faces depict a deathly pale beauty that is often transformed and altered by thick globs of color or all encompassing flora. Levasseur explores themes of love and fear, anguish and unsatisfied desire in her body of work.
I am interested in depicting both the solitude and the bipolarity of the existence of the human being, through the representation of memories. I question the relationship between physical comfort and peace of mind, and how the environment around us can affect this state of mind.
Her women are set in scenes of rolling hills of flowers and palpable paint amongst other wilderness. However picturesque the setting may seem, there is a sense of distress and loss. Some of the women lie in a lush, colorful sea of flowers, but still have a look of distress on their face. There is repeatedly a flaming asteroid in the background, implying an impending doom. Levasseur beautifully portrays these women full of emotion, with an inevitable tragedy behind their eyes, if they even have eyes at all. Many of the faces have eyes hiding behind strokes of color, or holes where their eyes used to be. Each woman, beautiful in their own right, is lost and being engulfed in her equally as beautiful surroundings. All of the seeping colors, crushing flora, and heartbreaking women become meshed together in Levaseur’s paintings. She represents this world as a single organism, blending color and form.
Alexandra Levasseur’s solo exhibition Body of Land is on view now at Mirus Gallery in San Francisco.
Artist Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz uses unlikely elements to construct his unbelievable and complex photographs of superheroes, or Splash Heroes. However, unlike normal superheroes, his heroes are not wearing ordinary uniforms, but outfits created from splashes of colored milk. Each constructed photograph contains a confident, strong superwoman posed in a capable and superior pose. Even more impressive, the liquid was not just simply digitally edited onto all of the models, but actually thrown onto them during the photo shoot. Wieczorkiewicz created this liquid clothing with splashes of milk with food coloring. Splashes are thrown in different places of the body in order to fabricate multifaceted outfits to mimic how real clothing may fit. This process demands an extreme amount of time and patience in order to create such a flawless result. In fact, each photograph is created from layering and editing together about 200 images. These many photos are layered over each other to form the finished photograph.
This is not the first series of milk-covered women that photographer Wieczorkiewicz has done. He has also created a similar series containing pin-up girls dressed in splashes of white milk. In this most recent series, Splash Heroes, Wieczorkiewicz’s work is pushed to a more dynamic level full of energy, movement, and dramatic color. The deep, glossy colors of liquid add a powerful vibe that gives the women a demanding presence. Each woman superhero is in mid-motion as their milk-suits swirl and travel around their bodies, creating a force field of milk. Wieczorkiewicz has all of his Splash Heroes available in a calendar, one for each month. (via Faith is Torment)