What insect has the ability to extend down into the nearly foot-long nectar tube of the ghost orchid? For generations, that question has interested researchers who’ve speculated that the giant sphinx moth, which has a proboscis that often exceeds 10 inches, was one of few species with a tubular tongue that could reach the sticky pollen nestled inside the endangered flower.

Shot during the course of three years, a short documentary by Grizzly Creek Films follows researchers committed to proving this hypothesis. It draws on Charles Darwin’s 160-year-old studies about orchids’ evolution, particularly in relation to one species in Madagascar about which he famously said, “Good heavens. What insect could suck it?” In  “Chasing Ghosts,” the team wades into the buggy swamplands of south Florida alongside snakes and alligators to reach a grove of cypress trees, where the white flowers wrap themselves high among the boughs. There they installed … Read the rest

“Purple Mountain” (2020), oil on wood panel, 48 x 36 inches. All images © Seth Armstrong, shared with permission

“Color and light are basically all I think about when I’m painting,” says Seth Armstrong. Working with oil paints on wood, the Los Angeles-based artist renders the sloping hills of his native California county in bold, saturated tones. Depicting the staggered houses and vegetation in the glow of golden hour or just after sunrise, Armstrong balances both hyperrealism and more sweeping, gestural strokes. He includes the occasional candy-colored hue to veil the densely populated landscape—the artist notes that small details can be difficult to perceive when not viewing the works in person—with a layer of magic. “The paintings do become, for me, more than a depiction of light and color,” he writes. “But that’s a personal relationship we have.”

A limited-edition print of “Purple Mountain” releases on April 12 through Unit … Read the rest

All images © Naoki Onogawa, shared with permission

Using just his hands, Tokyo-based artist Naoki Onogawa folds scores of origami cranes with wingspans that never top a single centimeter. He then fastens the minuscule birds to asymmetric tree forms, creating bonsai-like sculptures engulfed by hundreds of the monochromatic paper creatures.

Onogawa tells Colossal that he began crafting the tiny birds following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake that devastated parts of southern Hokkaido and Tohoku, which the artist visited the next year. As he walked around the city of Rikuzen Takata, he spotted 1,000 paper cranes at the site of a school demolished by the tsunami. “I found myself in terror of how powerless we humans are in the face of nature’s wonder; yet at the same time, I felt empowered by the power of life, vitality, that shined so brightly in the aftermath of its wrath,” Onogawa says. He … Read the rest

“A Canopy of Cherry Blossoms,” 2021 by Han Cao

Every month, Colossal shares a selection of opportunities for artists and designers, including open calls, grants, fellowships, and residencies. If you’d like to list an opportunity here, please get in touch at [email protected] You can also join our monthly Opportunities Newsletter.

 

Open Calls

Chicago Botanic Garden Call for Artists with $5k to $40k for Commissions Featured
The Chicago Botanic Garden will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022. A series of public programs and art experiences will celebrate the Garden’s remarkable growth and will establish the tone for the next decade. The Garden is seeking Statements of Interest from artists for sculptures, installations, and experiences.
Deadline: April 12, 2021.

SUNY Oswego Outdoor Sculpture Initiative
SUNY Oswego seeks proposals for outdoor sculptures for the school’s main campus. Seven artists will be chosen to install artworks in a centrally located lawn area adjacent … Read the rest

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Portrait of Lisa Gherardini” known as La Joconde or Monna Lisa, the 1st quarter of the 16th century (1503-1518)

The Louvre just launched a new online database compiling more than 480,000 artworks from its collections and those at the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix and The Tuileries Garden. Spanning Egyptian antiquities and medieval sculpture to Renaissance and modern decorative arts, the free digital catalog includes works on long-term loan and is complete with an interactive map to pursue each room of the French institution. Some pieces are grouped into albums, including one collating 2020’s acquisitions and another dedicated to the National Museums Recovery, a collection of works gathered after World War II that’s being held by the Louvre until they’re claimed by their rightful beneficiaries. Dive into the entire archive, which is updated daily, on the museum’s site.

 

Brick panel from Achaemenid: Darius I (circa 510 BC) (-522

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“Persian Kangaroo.” All images © Debbie Lawson, shared with permission

A new menagerie of polar bears, stags, and kangaroos resemble typical wildlife except for the fact that they’re literally swept under the carpet, their features hidden from view. These towering sculptural forms are by artist Debbie Lawson (previously), who crafts animals that are cloaked in sweeping Persian rugs. Rather than being camouflaged by a forest, jungle, or snow-covered Arctic, Lawson’s creatures boldly protrude from the fabric and loom over the viewer.

In her process, Lawson sculpts the animals from a combination of chicken wire and masking tape. She then layers luscious carpets across them, creating the illusion that these animals are about to jump, walk, and prance out of the fabric. This method is derived from what Lawson describes as her ability to spot hidden images in floors, textured walls, and various patterns, an interest that’s mirrored in her perspective-altering … Read the rest

Detail of “Liquid Sunshine/I am a Pluviophile” (2019), glass, phosphorescent material, broad-spectrum UV lights, motion detector, 3,353 x 4,267 x 3,658 millimeters as installation. Photo by Yasushi Ichikawa, 33rd Rakow Commission, courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass. All images © Rui Sasaki, shared with permission

Approach the delicate glass artworks by Rui Sasaki, and witness the unpredictable patterns of the weather through a sublte glow of blue light. The Japanese artist’s experiential body of work translates varying forecasts into speckled sculptures that radiate once encountered, an intimate process that Sasaki describes as a way to “visualize subtle sunshine, record today’s weather, and transfer it from here to there/from there to here.”

At their brightest, the phosphorescent crystals are tinged green before fading to blue. “Visitors will doubtless be surprised to find that even if they cannot see anything on first entering the gallery, stay long enough and their eyes … Read the rest

Installation view of “Sakura Shibefuru” (2021), salt, at Setouchi City Art Museum. All images © Motoi Yamamoto, shared with permission

Sprawling across a bright red floor at Setouchi City Art Museum is Motoi Yamamoto’s sweeping installation of 100,000 cherry blossoms. Using a small, petal stencil and poured salt, the Kanazawa-based artist meticulously laid a mass of mineral-based buds during the course of 55 hours and nine days. Constructed radially, “Sakura Shibefuru,” or “Falling Cherry Petals” mimics the natural patterns formed around trees after the blossoms drop and end their life cycle each spring, a process Yamamoto (previously) says informed much of the work:

When the red-purple buds fall, for many people, this is also the time when they lose interest due to the flower season being over. However, this time can also be seen as a small nudge to think about the coming fresh greens of spring and midsummer…While thinking

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All images © Alexandra Kehayoglou, shared with permission

Designer Alexandra Kehayoglou (previously) creates exquisite pieces of flowing textiles that reference the rugged landscapes of her homeland, Argentina. In the creation of each tapestry, Kehayoglou transforms surplus carpet fabric into natural elements that range from a spectrum of Earth-colored mosses to clusters of trees and serpentine rivers that cut through the heart of her weaves. Entwined within each piece are fragments of the artist’s own memories, including witnessing waterways slowly recede and the alterations to Argentina’s grasslands.

Her latest works, a series called Prayer Rugs, depict animal footprints and small vegetative features of the Parana Wetlands located 50 kilometers from Buenos Aires. In recent years, the region’s biodiversity has been decimated by the wood and paper industries, which have facilitated the growth of non-native plant species that have since spread out of control. Additionally, human-made fires wreaked havoc during 2020, … Read the rest

In Parable of Gravity, artist Casey Curran (previously) assembles a vast garden of delicate kinetic blossoms amidst an expanse of deterioration. The sweeping landscape, which is on view at Seattle’s MadArt through April 17, positions Curran’s pulsing plant forms atop 20 towers of wooden scaffolding that line the gallery space. Coated in a thick layer of mud, the tallest structures scale eight feet at the outer edge of the installation, where a human-like figure appears to hover in the air. The anonymous body is covered in the flowers, which are made from laser-cut polyester drawing papers and powered by cranks and small motors.

Through the maze of garden plots at the other end of the space hangs a hollow, aluminum asteroid—which is modeled after 951 Gaspra, the first rocky mass humans were able to observe in detail thanks to a 1991 viewing by the Galileo spacecraft. Titled “Anchor of … Read the rest