Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil makes a bold claim in its name. Can one pencil really satisfy every single need? As John Steinbeck once observed, “A pencil that is all right some days is no good another day. . . . I have my plastic tray you know and in it three kinds of pencils for hard writing days and soft writing days.”

Equipped with a rich, B-hardness core, the Perfect Pencil might be best suited for those soft days, but Faber-Castell confidently calls it a “true all-rounder” for writers and artists. What makes this implement particularly notable is not just its ability to lay down silky-smooth, grit-free strokes but also its design: It’s equipped with a protective cap that doubles as a sharpener so a clean point is always immediately attainable. When flipped to cover the velvety eraser, the cap also extends the length of any pencil that’s worn down to … Read the rest

“Life” (2021), installation view at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel. Photo by Mark Niedermann, courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles, © 2021 Olafur Eliasson

A flood of murky water overwhelms the stark white galleries of Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland. The new exhibition, simply titled “Life,” is the work of acclaimed Danish-Iceland artist Olafur Eliasson (previously), who set the Swiss institution awash in floating ferns, dwarf water lilies, shell flowers, red root floaters, and water caltrops.

To install the sprawling project, Eliasson removed the windows on one side of the museum’s facade, which allows visitors and nearby wildlife to enter the space at any time of day or night. The open-air environment subjects the manufactured reservoir indoors to the naturally occurring elements outside the building, like the weather, daylight, humidity, and smells and sounds of nearby public gardens. At night, a combination of UV … Read the rest

Kevin McNamee-Tweed’s proclivity for the fragment and for small to very small formats can make his shows read like trails of clues. “Probable Presence,” an assemblage of nearly seventy works dated between 2019 and 2021, feels like an unspooling of partial disclosures, an aggregation of winks and nods. Throughout his drawings, paintings, and works in clay, McNamee-Tweed borrows words and images from vintage comics, art history, advertising, and other sources, replicating and repurposing each bit of material to archive wonders from the external world, and fashion an ongoing portrait of his domestic, psychic interior. Across media, he quotes and cheekily misquotes. One of his colored pencil drawings, Long Red Haired Woodpecker (2020), transforms a naturalist’s record of a hairy woodpecker into an incongruously sultry pinup by trading the bird’s distinctive red cap for a long, cherry-red tress. Another drawing, Blowing Bibbles of Sibbles (2020), recasts Chardin’s Soap Bubbles (ca. 1733–34) … Read the rest

“Solitary Catch Awaits,” laminated clear float glass with cast concrete, bronze, and stainless steel frame, 300 x 300 x 180 millimeters. All images © Ben Young

Calm bodies of hand-cut glass pool atop jagged concrete in Ben Young’s aquatic sculptures. The New Zealand-based artist (previously) is known for his marine landscapes that position miniature figures in vast expanses of the translucent material, creating a contemplative environment that juxtaposes a minuscule representation of humanity alongside the immensity of the oceans and other bodies of water. Each piece similarly contrasts the organic topography with the perfect right angles that provide the cubic shape and revealing cross-sections.

A few of Young’s sculptures are currently available at Black Door and Red Sea galleries, and you can find prints in his shop. Explore a larger collection of his works on Behance and Instagram.


“Sea of Separation,” laminated float glass, cast concrete, bronze, and stainless

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From ancient times until now, every artist has kept an assortment of necessary tools in his or her studio, and many of the objects found in contemporary work spaces would have been familiar to an artisan or craftsperson of medieval and Renaissance Europe or to a scholar-painter in ancient China. Just call to mind Ming dynasty painter Xie Huan’s Elegant Gathering in the Apricot Garden, with its image of an artist’s work table complete with brushes, a water container, and an inkstone. Despite the differences in ambience and setting, the functions of those implements were the same as they are today.

In our own era, tools for drawing or sketching are used by artists working in three dimensions as well as two. Inks and pigments, whether black or in … Read the rest

Detail of “The Tulips” (2021), made in collaboration with Jay Rose. All images © Elena Zaycman, shared with permission

From her studio in St. Petersburg, artist Elena Zaycman creates delicate flowers and tropical plants from vibrant stained glass. She strays from the traditional two-dimensional panels to produce lifelike forms that resemble fleshy petals and curved leaves found in nature. Whether a pair of tulips or fanned palm, Zaycman’s translucent designs refract light and cast tinted shadows in an array of organic shapes around the space.

Having worked with the medium for nearly a decade, the artist tells Colossal that prior to creating the smaller sculptures she collaborated with her sister on expansive projects that required a lengthy, complex installation in homes and other spaces. She began to produce the mounted pieces as a way to circumvent that process and make the art form more accessible to those without the resources … Read the rest

One of the country’s most closely watched curators has resigned from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, accusing its leadership of being resistant to adhering to its commitment to diversity.

Mia Locks, who joined MOCA in July 2019 as senior curator and head of new initiatives, resigned from the institution late last month, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

One of the initiatives that Locks began at MOCA shortly after her appointment began was one devoted to IDEA, an acronym for inclusion, diversity, equity, and access. In an email from Locks to staff announcing her resignation on March 26, the curator said, “MOCA’s leadership is not yet ready to fully embrace IDEA,” according to the L.A. Times, which verified the email.

In an email to the L.A. Times, a MOCA spokesperson said, “We are working across our organization to fulfill our IDEA … Read the rest

All images © Kanako Abe, shared with permission

From a single sheet of white paper, Kanako Abe (previously) carves exquisite silhouettes of children and young adults who are awash in seas of fish or occupied by quiet campouts. She utilizes the traditional Japanese art form called Kirie—which translates to cut picture—a technique that Abe begins with a sketch before slicing the delicate material with a variety of knives. “I don’t have a chance to change the design once I start cutting, so I find it challenging,” the Seattle-based artist says. “I have to think of the right patterns, controlling negative space, and make sure all the lines are connected so the art won’t fall apart once it’s finished.” A single piece can take anywhere from six to 60 hours to complete.

Abe shifted to full-time in 2020 and now balances her practice between commissions and ongoing personal projects, a few … Read the rest

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Acrylic medium is a versatile product for use with acrylic paint and in mixed-media projects. A liquid that’s milky when wet and translucent when dry, it can be added to acrylic to increase fluidity; the more you add, the thinner and more transparent the color will become. This makes it particularly handy for glazes and blending. It can also be used to create a clear ground on canvas or paper in place of gesso, and it works as an adhesive for use in collage and image transfers. Most acrylic mediums come in two finishes: glossy and matte. Since acrylics tend to have a glossy finish to begin with, choosing a matte medium to mix in with your paints can make a significant difference in your work’s final appearance. Whether Read the rest

Artwork by RISD Summer Programs faculty Polly Becker for a course called Illustration: The Assembled Image

Experience Rhode Island School of Design this summer from anywhere in the world. Choose from online classes with live Zoom sessions or asynchronous learning with no required meeting times. Whether you’re an artist or designer looking to advance your practice, a college student hoping to earn credit, or a high school student interested in pursuing art and design, RISD CE is offering 160+ online courses for adults and teens this summer.

RISD Summer Programs students can earn college credit from live studio classes and liberal arts courses that are pre-recorded and delivered asynchronously. Students work with renowned RISD faculty and receive personalized instruction to advance their creative practice. All courses are three (3) credits and run for six weeks from June 21 to July 30, 2021.

RISD Advanced Program for High School Students provides … Read the rest