Essential Books: 12 Illuminating Artist’s Memoirs

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Like all autobiographies, artist memoirs require two ingredients: a compelling life story and the ability to put it to paper. For lots of people, though, it seems counterintuitive that a visual artist would pick up a pen. This is nonsense, of course. Many artists can write, even if people are surprised when they do. As proof that artists are often accomplished at it, we present our choices for the best artists’ memoirs, ranging from scandalous to epic. (Price and availability current at time of publication.)

1. David Wojnarowicz, Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration
The life of David Wojnarowicz (1954–1992) would make a fascinating subject for any book. Born in suburban New Jersey and physically abused as a child by his alcoholic father, Wojnarowicz wound up in … Read the rest

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Discarded Technology and Branded Trash Are Stacked into Dystopian Structures in Alvaro Naddeo’s Paintings

“AmeriCan’t” (2018), watercolor on paper, 20 x 22 inches. All images © Alvaro Naddeo, shared with permission

Behind each one of Alvaro Naddeo’s watercolor paintings is an imagined character who’s built a rickety shopping cart structure or gathered waste materials for a tiny, mobile dwelling. “I believe they are strong people, resilient, and survivalists,” the Brazilian artist tells Colossal. “They use creativity to overcome obstacles and adapt to any situation they are put in. So in a way, both of them, characters and discarded objects, are proof that there’s value in everything if you know where to look for it.”

Evoking an alternative universe in a state of ruin, Naddeo (previously) renders ramshackle structures and vehicles—which only span a few inches—made primarily of outdated technology, rusted carts and frames, and a plethora of branded materials: a Marlboro sign props up an upper level, a Coca-Cola panel offers protection from the … Read the rest

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With His Collection of Americana, Alan Page Makes the Past Visible

In 1981, after 15 years playing with the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears, Alan Page left his career as a professional athlete to become a lawyer. This was a rare move for a Hall of Fame football player, but after finally coming to terms with a years-long inner conflict over sport and law, as Page recently told ARTnews, “it was time for me to move on.” Since then, he has risen to the highest levels of the legal world. In 1993, he was appointed as a justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, the first Black person to obtain the position.

Now an accomplished philanthropist at age 75, Page is reflecting on another commitment that has lasted nearly a lifetime: art collecting. In the early 1970s, with his wife Diane Page, who died in 2018, he began buying art. They started small, first buying works on paper by artists … Read the rest

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May 2021 Opportunities: Open Calls, Residencies, and Grants for Artists

“Easy Way Out” (2021) by Rustam QBic

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

Backroads: The Art Less-Travelled at Vestige Concept Gallery
This open call from Pittsburgh’s Vestige Concept Gallery seeks artworks that venture off the beaten path, especially with regard to travel, and is open to artists in the U.S. and Canada. Projects could include hidden gems, special or unusual spots, wanderings, odd travel, strange encounters, and or “lost” and fading places. The $25 application fee includes two submissions.
Deadline: May 22, 2021.


Residencies & Grants

The Barbara and Carl Zydney Grant for Artists with Disabilities
This unrestricted grant gives $1,000 to artists with a disability who have experienced financial hardship … Read the rest

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The Best Permanent Markers for Detailing, Coloring, and More

A well-stocked studio should always include some permanent markers. These versatile tools, great for both functional purposes (like labeling) and artistic pursuits, are easy to work with and inexpensive, especially when purchased in sets. They come in many nib sizes, which makes them a great tool for detailed artworks. Whether you’re filling in a coloring book, drafting on acetate, or working on a design project for a client, choose the best products to express yourself. Read on to learn about our top picks.

Bic Permanent Markers
Available in 36 blendable colors and compatible with a variety of surfaces, Bic’s markers are our favorite go-to for any job. Each marker is juicy, with easy-flowing ink that doesn’t feather on paper and dries almost immediately to a translucent finish. The ink is acid-free and resists fading unless kept under direct sunlight for long periods. You can write or draw on
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Assembled Sculptures by Artist Willie Cole Cluster High Heels into Expressive Masks

“Street Dragon I” (2018), shoes, wire, and screws on a metal stand, 64.5 x 16 x 15.5 inches. Photo by Joerg Lohse. All images © Willie Cole, courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York

New Jersey-based artist Willie Cole juxtaposes readymade footwear and African tradition in his series of sculptural masks. The figurative assemblages stack women’s heels into clusters that are expressive and distinctly unique, an effect Cole derives from the shoes’ material, color, and pattern rather than a preconceived plan or sketch. Depicting exaggerated toothy grins, pointed brows, and outstretched tongues, the sculptures span more than a decade of the artist’s career and influence a new collaboration with Comme des Garçons that’s comprised of headpieces made with black pumps.

Each piece is layered with cultural and societal markers, including those that comment on mass consumerism, fashion trends, and notions of femininity. This context is situated in time and place, … Read the rest

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The Best Kneaded Erasers Will Bend to Artists’ Needs

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A kneaded eraser is an essential artists’ tool for erasing, yes, but also for blurring edges, highlighting, and using other subtractive drawing techniques. It is made of a flexible gummy material that you can mold to any form or take a small piece of to access hard-to reach areas. Most often, artists use a press-and-lift technique with kneaded erasers rather than rubbing them across surfaces. This method leaves paint undisturbed and does not damage even soft paper. Kneaded erasers are versatile and absorb graphite, charcoal, pastel, and chalk on contact. Browse our selection of the best kneaded erasers below.

Faber-Castell Kneaded Eraser
Simply press this eraser onto graphite for a noticeably clean lift, even in heavily shaded areas. The Faber-Castell kneaded eraser is quite flexible, making it
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State of the Union: Faith Ringgold at Glenstone

For decades, Faith Ringgold has invited the dark shadows of American life onto the nation’s bright face, chronicling its grim histories, untold betrayals, and unsung heroes. The sound-bite description of the artist—Black Power activist, feminist, maker of story quilts—subsumes the complexities of her fulsome vision and personal voice. Her politics, while prophetic, earned her little respect within the mainstream art world or among her peers in the 1960s and ’70s. With more than seventy artworks hung mostly chronologically, the Glenstone Museum’s survey, organized by the Serpentine Gallery in London, elaborates on the context and development of Ringgold’s work across genres (early figuration, political posters, soft sculpture, quilts) and historically bound series, including “American People” (1963–67), “Black Light” (1967–69), and “Feminist Series” (1972). It is the most expansive exhibition of Ringgold’s work to date.

The first galleries introduce “Super Realism,” Ringgold’s signature style of abstracted figuration and sharp graphic and conceptual … Read the rest

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Art Advancing Justice: A Chicago-Based Artwork and Book Sale Raises Money to Build Racial Equity

Terry Evans, “Lake Michigan Morning. Lakefront on north side of Chicago. July 23, 2003,” archival inkjet print on Hahnamuhle paper, paper size 13 x 15 inches, image size 12 x 12 inches. All images courtesy of CAAU

Following a horrifying number of anti-Asian hate crimes in recent months, a group of artists and activists in Chicago have teamed up for an ongoing fundraiser, Art Advancing Justice. The artwork and book sale is organized by  Chicago API Artists United (CAAU) and launched last week with a wave of support—many of the pieces sold within the first day—with proceeds going toward Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, an organization that’s been hosting bystander training and other advocacy and civic engagement endeavors as a way to build racial equity.

CAAU director and co-founder Greg Bae tells Colossal that the fundraiser and broader organization grew organically from a network of artists and art writers Read the rest

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Artist Marilyn Minter on Depicting the Unexpected and Reclaiming Images of Women

Marilyn Minter’s paintings, photographs, and videos often depict the female body in a variety of ways—from up-close views of women’s feet in heels and eyeshadow-covered eyelids to more explicit sexual imagery—to confront beauty standards, desire, and pleasure in her work. They’ve been described as “steamy, soiled, smeared, and sensual,” as Brooke Jaffe notes in a recent interview with Minter for “ARTnews Live,” our ongoing IGTV series featuring interviews with a range of creatives.

“I’m always thinking in terms of: What do we know exists, but you’ve never seen an image of it?” Minter told Jaffe, referring to her depictions of sweat, freckles, and body hair, which are often removed from images that circulate in the media.

“We’re shot through with imperfection,” she continued, adding that we all take “shameful pleasure” in glamour, fashion, and near-impossible beauty standards for women. “I think of it as a giant industry in our … Read the rest

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