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    Evoking Historical Struggles, Hank Willis Thomas Examines the Intersection of Art and Activism

    
    Art
    History

    #activism
    #identity
    #public art
    #sculpture

    October 29, 2020
    Grace Ebert

    “If the Leader Only Knew” (2014). All images © Hank Willis Thomas, shared with permission
    Through his bronze sculptures and public installations, Hank Willis Thomas (previously) examines history’s repetitions. The Brooklyn-based artist critically considers identity, social justice, and pop culture by visually weaving together the remains of the past that surface in present day. “Art is a platform where histories meet,” he tells Colossal.
    Thomas’s sculptural pieces include a series of hands clenching a barbed wire fence, an oversized hair pick lodged into concrete, and a gleaming basketball balancing on players’ fingertips. No matter the medium, the interdisciplinary artist begins by examining advertisements and archival images and the messages those contain. “The transfer of a photograph into a three-dimensional expression allows the viewer to delve within a photograph and form an intimate understanding of the ideas it represents. That relationship inspires critical thought about the viewer themselves and the world around them,” he says.
    Many of Thomas’s artworks reflect on historical moments, like the Holocaust and South African apartheid, and explicitly connect them to contemporary struggles. Photographs of mid-century Germany inspire sculptures, like “If the Leader Only Knew,” that evoke images of migrants detained at the United States-Mexico border. He ties a glimpse of mining workers to “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” a cry to end state-sanctioned police violence, which informs the outstretched arms in “Raise Up.” “History repeats itself, and art is one cultural framework through which we engage with these profound moments, hopefully awakening our consciousness,” the Brooklyn-based artist says.

    “Raise Up” (2014)
    For Thomas, art and activism are inextricable. In recent months, he’s been considering their critical intersections particularly in relation to creative movements like Wide Awakes and For Freedoms, an organization he co-founded that has been spearheading public projects prior to the 2020 election. “Art is not unaffected in this moment; it is the context that unifies our experiences of joy and even those of growth and pain. Art is the human experience. I am also curious about how people and society will change, and I think of my existence within this change as a man, as a Black man,” he says.
    Thomas’s work will be part of the group exhibition Barring Freedom at the San José Museum of Art, which runs from October 31, 2020, to April 25, 2021. A book surveying his decades-long practice, titled Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal, is available on Bookshop, and you can stay updated with his latest projects on Twitter and Instagram.

    “All Power to All People” (2017). Photo by Steve Weinik
    “Die dompas moet brand! / The Dompas must burn!” (2013)
    Left: “Globetrotter” (2016), fiberglass, chameleon auto paint finish, 32 1/2 × 11 × 20 inches. Right: “Tip Off” (2014), polyester resin and chameleon paint, 43 × 13 × 11 inches
    “History of the Conquest” (2017), bronze. Installation view at Jazz Museum for Prospect.4: The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp. Photo by Mike Smith

    #activism
    #identity
    #public art
    #sculpture

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    Set Against Lavishly Patterned Backdrops, Photographer Cecilia Paredes Disguises Herself in Stunning Self-Portraits

    
    Art
    Photography

    #camouflage
    #fabric
    #paint
    #patterns
    #self-portrait

    October 28, 2020
    Grace Ebert

    “Zanzibar” (2019). All images © Cecilia Paredes, shared with permission
    Whether immersing herself in swathes of ornamental textiles or against paisley-style backdrops, Cecilia Paredes is adept at camouflaging herself in the most elaborate settings. The Peruvian artist disguises her figure by painting her exposed skin and draping her torso in lavishly patterned clothing, leaving just her hair and eyes untouched as she snaps a photograph. The meticulously composed self-portraits, which are part of an ongoing body of work, blur the boundaries between subject and surrounding environment as they consider themes of nature, origin, and transformation.
    Paredes is represented by Ruiz-Healy Art, where some of her smaller works are on view as part of two group exhibitions. See more of her multi-media pieces that explore elements of disguise on Artsy.

    “Asian Dreams” (2018)
    “Shield” (2018)
    “The Voyage” (2019)
    “Of Wings And Thorns” (2020)

    #camouflage
    #fabric
    #paint
    #patterns
    #self-portrait

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    Recycled Scraps and Discarded Objects Are Fashioned Into an Eccentric Menagerie of Metal Animals

    
    Art

    #animals
    #metal
    #recycling
    #sculpture

    October 27, 2020
    Grace Ebert

    All images © Barbara Franc, shared with permisison
    London-based artist Barbara Franc (previously) upcycles materials that otherwise would be tossed into the recycling bin to create a quirky menagerie of metal creatures. Composed with scraps and copper wire, the lively sculptures generally are indicative of movement: owls lift a talon mid-waddle, two cats peer over their shoulders with surprised expressions, and a squirrel appears ready to scurry off.
    The diversity of Franc’s creatures mimic the breadth of materials utilized. She often begins by creating a wire-netting form before attaching the found objects—which include a combination of windscreen wipers, dog leads, keys, cupboard handles, cutlery, biscuit tins, old spanners, metal clips, costume jewelry, and clock and watch pieces—that she sources from yard sales, thrift shops, builder’s dumpsters, and along the roadside as she walks. When attached to the body, logo-printed scraps form a bushy tail and chess pieces create ruffled chest feathers.
    Franc notes that she creates to celebrate other species rather than out of sentimentality. “It is more about a very positive feeling of respect for the huge diversity of life on our wonderful planet and the knowledge that Life itself will always be there. Animals just symbolize that for me in an uncomplicated and direct approach as there is no human element to confuse the issue,” she says.
    Purchase one of Franc’s animalistic sculptures from her shop, and follow her latest recycled pieces on Instagram.

    #animals
    #metal
    #recycling
    #sculpture

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    Granite and Quartz Stones Carved to Appear Like Fabric and Clay by José Manuel Castro López

    
    Art

    #carving
    #rocks
    #stone carving
    #stone sculptures

    October 26, 2020
    Christopher Jobson

    All photos © José Manuel Castro López.
    Spanish artist José Manuel Castro López (previously) transforms nondescript chunks of granite and quartz into squished and dough-like objects, as if each object morphed from solid to liquid and back again in the sculptor’s capable hands. López seems to delight in convincing the viewer that he works with stone as if it were clay. Lately, he’s begun to introduce additional objects that seem to stitch, clamp, or stretch the stones in various ways. While the pieces are obviously not as complex as a Bernini or Michelangelo, they do function as unusual and often humorous studies of various stone carving techniques. You can explore a steady stream of work old and new on his Facebook timeline. (via My Modern Met)

    #carving
    #rocks
    #stone carving
    #stone sculptures

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    Artists Explore Self-Expression Through Bizarre and Whimsical Masks at Denver’s Vicki Myhren Gallery

    
    Art
    Design
    History

    #COVID-19
    #masks
    #sculpture

    October 26, 2020
    Christopher Jobson

    Felicia Murray, “Our Dying Reefs,” felted COVID mask, 2020. All photos shared with permission.
    There is perhaps no symbol more representative of contemporary life than the humble face mask. A simple health device crucial to saving millions of lives around the world from a deadly COVID-19 pandemic spread by invisible airborne pathogens, and yet an object that’s been quixotically politicized at the callous expense of humanity for the gain of an elite few. A new exhibition at the University of Denver’s Vicki Myhren Gallery approaches the lighter side of face coverings: the ancient tradition of masks as self-expression.
    Arranged on mannequins lining the gallery space, over 40 artists present interpretations of protective face wear in MASK, currently on view by appointment through December 1, 2020. The collection of whimsical, grotesque, quirky, and beautiful masks are medically non-functional but guaranteed to provoke a reaction through their novel construction. Several designs mimic natural filtration systems like foliage or a coral reef, while others use repurposed objects like zippers or pipes to create wholly unusual face sculptures.
    “Through this project, we hope to call attention to the significance and signification of masking as an issue of public health and demonstration of civic responsibility,” the gallery shares in a statement. “As the selected artists show, masking is also a mode of outward self-expression and opportunity for creativity. In turns utilitarian and fantastical, the wearable artworks shown demonstrate how makers and thinkers are engaging with the pandemic and applying their skills and individual styles to a newly important medium.”
    As part of the exhibition, Vicki Myhren Gallery has partnered with Denver’s RedLine Contemporary Art Center to fabricate free masks for distribution for those in need. (via Hyperallergic)

    Scottie Burgess, “Mask for Our Unseen Smiles” (2020)
    Serge Clottey, “Mask for Our Times” (2020) (photo by Nii Odzenma)
    Elizabeth Morisette, “Beak” (2020)
    Liz Sexton, Porcupinefish, 2020.
    Freyja Sewell, “Food” from Key Worker Series (2020)
    Matt Harris, “Hope” (2020); Cristina Rodo, “Covidus,” wet and needle-felted wool, 2020. Photo courtesy Emma Hunt.
    Kate Marling, “Classical Sculpture Mask” (2020)

    #COVID-19
    #masks
    #sculpture

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    Multi-Story Murals Showcase Domesticity through Elegant Ceramic Tableware

    
    Art

    #ceramics
    #murals
    #pottery
    #public art
    #street art
    #tableware

    October 23, 2020
    Grace Ebert

    Oviedo, Spain. All images © Manolo Mesa, shared with permission
    Spanish street artist Manolo Mesa merges public and private spheres through large-scale murals that highlight simple domestic objects. The multiple-story artworks depict traditional dining scenes, from an elegant porcelain tea set to a lone jug with swirling flourishes to another vessel resting on a saucer.
    To complete a recent tableau in Oviedo, Spain, for Parees Fest, Mesa explored the history of an abandoned pottery factory in San Claudio. Event organizers gathered tableware from local residents, a collection that informed the shapes and exterior motifs of his work. “I was able to see all the evolution of this earthenware in the houses of Oviedo. I found postwar pieces, which were inherited and preserved with great affection by collectors. We saw (the) tableware of a lifetime from the middle of the century,” he writes on Instagram. Showcasing a delicate collection of vessels, the resulting mural explores an otherwise hidden facet of local history.
    Find Mesa on Instagram to view some works-in-progress and follow his ceramic-centric projects.

    #ceramics
    #murals
    #pottery
    #public art
    #street art
    #tableware

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    Textural Sculptures by Artist Jessica Drenk Use Junk Mail, Book Pages, and Q-Tips to Explore Materiality

    
    Art

    #books
    #installation
    #paper
    #pencils
    #sculpure
    #wood

    October 22, 2020
    Grace Ebert

    “Dendrite” (2019), Q-tips and plaster. All images © Jessica Drenk, courtesy of Galleri Urbane, shared with permission
    Montana-born artist Jessica Drenk (previously) employs simple materials, like shopping flyers and standard No. 2 pencils, to create organic sculptures that are chaotic and arresting explorations of the substances themselves. Bundled Q-tips spread across a site-specific installation like the roots of a tree, a carved section of plywood reveals concentric patterns, and strips of junk mail are plastered together in long waves.
    While Drenk’s latest series, titled Transmutations, is diverse and ranges from wall pieces to cavernous sculptures, each artwork explores materiality and how disparate shapes and textures combine to create forms that are new both physically and conceptually. The artist explains in a statement:
    In treating everyday objects as raw material to sculpt, I practice a form of conceptual alchemy: through physically manipulating these objects their meanings become transmuted. Each piece is a direct response to material—a subversion of the meanings associated with it, and a reference to the life cycle of objects through time.
    If you’re in Dallas, Transmutations is on view at Galleri Urbane through October 31. Otherwise, follow Drenk’s textural works on Artsy, and watch an interview with the artist at her studio below.

    “Contour 3” (2020), carved plywood, 47 x 38 x 3 inches
    “Implement 68” (2020), pencils, 22 x 18 x 17 inches
    “Cerebral Mapping” (2020), books and wax, 132 x 80 inches
    “Compression 3” (2020), books, wax on wood panel, and wood frame, 44 x 38 x 2 inches
    “Dendrite” (2019), Q-tips and plaster
    Top: “Aggregate 3” (2020), junk mail, 28 x 130 x 2.25 inches. Bottom: “Aggregate 2” (2020), junk mail and plaster, 20 x 78 x 2.5 inches
    Left: “Circulation 18” (2020), books and wax, 31 x 29 x 1.5 inches. Right: “Circulation 19” (2020), junk mail and cardboard, 36 x 36 x 1.5 inches

    

    #books
    #installation
    #paper
    #pencils
    #sculpure
    #wood

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    Oversized Spiders by Mister Finch Transform Vintage Textiles into Fairytale Sculptures

    
    Art
    Craft

    #sculpture
    #spiders
    #textiles

    October 22, 2020
    Grace Ebert

    All images © Mister Finch, shared with permission
    Leeds-based artist Mister Finch (previously) thrifts scraps of brocades and cottons to shape into fantastical creatures that are both whimsical and slightly unnerving. His recent pieces include a series of oversized spiders that the artist photographs suspended from the ceiling or scaling his workshop wall. “The past few years my work has become more sculpture-based with my creatures pretty much all stood up and attached to bases.” Finch writes. “I love the way this looks and enables me to dress and humanize them, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
    Although the ongoing pandemic has stifled the artist’s foraging of fabrics and other materials in recent months, Finch notes that he’s been pulling textiles from his home stash and occasionally visiting fairs and markets. He’s also been scaling down his sculptures so that they’re easier to handle without assistance.
    Finch published two books filled with his fairytale-style sculptures and settings in recent years—and currently is working on a third—which you can purchase in his shop along with cards and totes. Dive further into his eccentric projects on Instagram.

    #sculpture
    #spiders
    #textiles

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