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    This Is Not a Gun: An Interview with Cara Levine Explores Collective Trauma, Grief, and the Power of Ritual

    
    Art

    #clay
    #social justice
    #wood

    November 16, 2021
    Paulette Beete

    All images © Cara Levine, shared with permission
    In December 2016, Harper’s Magazine published a list of more than 20 objects that had been “mistaken for guns during shootings of civilians by police in the United States since 2001.” Artist Cara Levine found herself stunned then grief-stricken by the items, prompting her to launch the multi-faceted This Is Not a Gun project, which she discusses in the latest interview supported by Colossal Members.
    I needed to slow down and understand what I was looking at because I don’t want to live in a world where someone can be killed eating a sandwich. We are getting this information so fast. I decided first to carve. I thought, “If I can carve a sandwich, somewhere in the process, from block of wood to sandwich I can understand how someone might think this is a gun. If I just spend all the time understanding its form, maybe I’ll understand how it was mistaken as a gun.”
    As Levine explains in her conversation with Colossal contributor Paulette Beete, she wasn’t naïve about gun violence or how often it occurred in Black communities at the hands of police. What she found unfathomable, however, was how these everyday objects could be interpreted as threats. So she turned to her art as a way to understand the seemingly understandable. In this interview,  Levine speaks about how This Is Not A Gun has informed and evolved her practice, her understanding of both individual and collective grief and trauma, and the importance of ritual.

    A This Is Not A Gun workshop

    #clay
    #social justice
    #wood

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    Otherworldly Hybrid Characters by Toco-Oco Consider Human Existence Through Emblems and Myth

    
    Art

    #animals
    #clay
    #resin
    #sculpture
    #wax
    #wood

    November 8, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    All images © Toco-Oco, shared with permission
    Lara Alcântara and Guilherme Neumann, the duo behind the fantastical figurine maker Toco-Oco, envision an alternate world populated by curious animalistic creatures. Sculpted from a combination of wood, resin, fabric, clay, and wax, the hybrid characters wear garments and masks imprinted with emblems and child-like doodles and express a vast array of emotions that grapple with the strange universe they find themselves in. “It is a world very similar to ours, full of injustices but full of hope,” the pair says in an interview with WePresent. “Our work has reverence for the mystical, natural, and spiritual, trying to rescue this greater connection.”
    Based in Brazil, Alcântara and Neumann root each figure in larger narratives often tied to human existence. One character, for example, lugs an oversized, hollowed-out head filled with kindling on its back, a metaphor for a mind overwhelmed by emotion and worries for the future, while smaller busts function as totems with chest cavities and torsos marked by gaping shapes or mythological symbols. A tension between civility and natural instinct is a prominent feature and references “the wild, raw, ruthless, predatory, insatiable, powerful side which is repressed—or worse, is disguised—by the false idea of ​​consciousness,” they say.
    Toco-Oco’s sculptures sell out quickly, although they have a pre-sale slated for November 15. Follow updates on that new piece and see more of the otherworldly figures on Behance and Instagram.

    #animals
    #clay
    #resin
    #sculpture
    #wax
    #wood

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    Colorful Patterns of Stained Glass Nestle Within Repurposed Sea Defense Timber

    
    Art
    Craft

    #glass
    #light
    #sculpture
    #stained glass
    #wood

    October 27, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    All images © Louise Durham, shared with permission
    Based in the coastal town of Shoreham-by-Sea, England, artist Louise Durham creates towering wooden sculptures of reclaimed sea defense timber and vibrant stained glass. She embeds stripes and circles in a full spectrum of color within the totem-style works, which when illuminated, cast kaleidoscopic shadows on their surroundings. “It is all about the light,” she says. “That’s the magic of glass and the magic of all living things.”
    In a note to Colossal, Durham explains that she utilizes traditional leaded light techniques, along with fusing and slumping—these involve connecting two pieces together and melting the material in a mold, respectively—to create bisected circles and asymmetric stripes. Shen then arranges the translucent elements in gradients and rainbow-like columns and leaves the rugged edges and knots of the repurposed wood visible. “Even having all the colors of glass laid out in front of me on my cutting table is enough to make me feel good, and I think that’s why the work is so popular. Color makes us feel good,” she shares. “I try not to interfere too much on an intellectual level. The work is definitely not from the head and totally and utterly from my heart.”
    You can find more of Durham’s brilliant sculptures on her site and Instagram. (via Women’s Art)

    #glass
    #light
    #sculpture
    #stained glass
    #wood

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    Woven Bamboo Installations by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV Sprout from Ceilings and Walls in Tangled Forms

    
    Art

    #bamboo
    #installation
    #site-specific
    #weaving
    #wood

    October 5, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    All images courtesy of Mingei Gallery, shared with permission
    Japanese artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV threads strips of bamboo together into monumental works that appear to grow from walls and ceilings. His hollow, circular creations utilize a style of rough weaving that his family has practiced for generations—Tanabe’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all worked with traditional craft techniques and shared the name Chikuunsai, which translates to “bamboo cloud”—and result in installations that are massive in scale as they coil across rooms, stretch dozens of feet into the air, and loop around support beams.
    Because his family has been steeped in the practice for decades, Tanabe began weaving as a child, and today, he continues to build on the traditions he learned early on, expanding from smaller baskets and pods to larger, site-specific works made with the pliable wood material. “The appearance of my grandfather weaving a basket was very beautiful and elegant. I felt art. Now I feel that bamboo is the most beautiful material, and I believe that bamboo art has endless possibilities,” he tells Colossal.
    Tanabe currently lives in Sakai, near Osaka, and will show his spiraling constructions at the Baur Foundation in Geneva from November 16, 2021, to March 27, 2022. You can see more of his projects on Instagram.

    #bamboo
    #installation
    #site-specific
    #weaving
    #wood

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    Sinuous Branches Envelop Human-Sized Nests and Large Geometric Sculptures by Charlie Baker

    
    Art
    Design

    #installation
    #nests
    #sculpture
    #wood

    September 17, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    All images © Charlie Baker, shared with permission
    Brooklyn-based designer Charlie Baker wrangles unruly branches and twigs into large-scale sculptures and installations that highlight the natural curvature of his foraged materials. Whether cloaking a perfectly round sphere in wood or constructing a treetop nest built for people, he envisions discrete spaces, which are sometimes marked with hidden passageways and windows, that tame the gnarly, knotted wood and present it anew. “I like the sense of motion the curvy pieces create because, to me, it gives a sense that the artwork is living, growing,” he says.
    Baker has a background in landscape design, a parallel practice that continues to influence his work. “I am constantly considering how my creations interact with their surroundings, how they tie in with nature. With my artwork, it’s no different,” he tells Colossal.
    The designer was recently interviewed by Wired, which travels with him from his studio to the forests of Long Island where he gathers materials. Currently, he’s working on a few projects, including an elaborate kitchen garden, a children’s tree platform, and smaller sculptures, which you can follow on his site and Instagram.

    

    #installation
    #nests
    #sculpture
    #wood

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    Nondescript Human Heads Appear Burned into Large-Scale Matches by Wolfgang Stiller

    
    Art

    #matches
    #sculpture
    #wood

    September 8, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    Group of five Matchstickmen (2019), wood, polyurethane, paint, each 155 centimeters. All images © Wolfgang Stiller, shared with permission
    Often propped up in a row or symbolically arranged, the ongoing series of charred matches by Wolfgang Stiller are oversized and surreal renditions of the book-bound lookalikes. The German artist sculpts human heads in bright red or gradient-lined black signaling previous use that sit atop the square posts standing about five feet tall. Aptly titled Matchstickmen, the nondescript figures span the gamut of human emotion, ranging from pained expressions and distress to joy and calm.
    Stiller began the series more than a decade ago when he was living in China, and the earliest wooden iterations reflected his surrounding community. Today, they encompass a broader swath of identities and are sometimes cast in bronze for larger outdoor installations. Whether tucked in a large-scale box resembling a coffin or arranged as emblems like the Star of David to memorialize historic atrocities, the Matchstickmen series can be somber and even morbid, although Stiller tells Colossal they’re also speaking to the unpredictability and impermanence of life. He explains:
    It is an undeniable fact, which we like to forget, that our present existence, (our) body is going to fall apart. We all have a certain lifespan. The Matchstickmen serve as a friendly reminder of this fact. That might scare a lot of people, especially those with a very materialistic worldview who think everything ends with the death of our physical body, but it could be also seen as an encouragement to live a more meaningful life.
    Stiller’s solo show at Miart Gallery in London is up through September 21, and you can find more of his metaphorical works on his site and  Instagram.

    Group of three Matchstickmen (2019), wood, polyurethane, paint, each 155 centimeters
    Detail of “Matchbox” (2018), wood, polyurethane, and paint, 160 x 71 x 20 centimeters when opened
    Detail of “Matchbox” (2018), wood, polyurethane, and paint, 160 x 71 x 20 centimeters when opened
    Group of five Matchstickmen (2020), wood, polyurethane, paint, each 155 centimeters
    Matchstickmen (2011), wood, polyurethane, acrylic, and gouache, 155 to 158 centimeters
    Bronze installation of Matchstickmen at the Changwon Sculpture Biennale Korea (2018)
    Matchstickmen installation (2010). Photo by Achim Kukulies

    #matches
    #sculpture
    #wood

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    Imaginative Cartoon Characters by Yen Jui-Lin Express Playful Moods in Carved Wood

    
    Art
    Craft
    Design

    #sculptures
    #toys
    #wood

    September 8, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    All images ©Yen Jui-Lin
    Sporting waggish smiles or wide grimaces, Yen Jui-Lin’s wooden carvings are expressive characters that appear straight from a storybook. The Taiwanese craftsman (previously) stretches quirky figures, slices their bodies in half, and sprouts plant-like growths from their heads, exaggerating their cartoonish qualities in a playful and whimsical manner. Whether a character or plant, each work is evidence of his imaginative style and skillful process, which starts with a pencil sketch and gnarly hunk of wood—he shares more about his technique on Instagram—before becoming fully realized form. Although Yen originally began carving the smooth designs for his children, they’ve become collaborators on some of his pieces, like this wide-eyed monster.

    #sculptures
    #toys
    #wood

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    Plants and Knotted Branches Sprout from Camille Kachani’s Impractical Household Objects

    
    Art

    #books
    #furniture
    #plants
    #sculpture
    #tools
    #wood

    August 3, 2021
    Grace Ebert

    All images © Camille Kachani, shared with permission
    Human progress and the insurmountable force of nature converge in Camille Kachani’s overgrown sculptures. The Lebanese-Brazilian artist (previously) is known for his furniture, tools, and other practical objects that are overrun with new plant growths and gnarly roots, rendering the seemingly functional items like stools, hammers, and books humorously impractical.
    Whether a text bursting with vegetation or dresser drawers housing young sprigs, Kachani’s works highlight the futile attempts humans undertake to control the environment. This relationship has been central to his practice in recent years, and his goal is to showcase the conflicts that arise from their intersections especially in relation to life in Brazil—the South American country is more frequently experiencing the effects of the climate crisis like the worst drought its seen in decades and rampant deforestation that’s only intensifying the ongoing devastation—which he explains:
    When we speak human and nature, we mean culture and nature, an (un)stable and unpredictable relation. We depend on nature but also see it as a major obstacle to our complete mastery of the planet. But in fact, it is impossible to talk about nature and culture as two distinct subjects, as they are so intertwined and contaminated from each other that I come to believe that everything is nature and culture at the same time.
    Kachani is based in São Paulo and is preparing for a forthcoming book chronicling 20 years of his practice, which will be published in 2022. You can follow his work on Instagram.

    #books
    #furniture
    #plants
    #sculpture
    #tools
    #wood

    Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member and support independent arts publishing. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, help support our interview series, gain access to partner discounts, and much more. Join now!

     
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