“Of Earth & Sky (Blue Cumulus)” (2020), collage and ink on paper. All images © Lorna Simpson, courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth

An extraordinarily glamorous collaboration graces the pages of ESSENCE’s January/February 2021 issue. The print publication paired acclaimed artist Lorna Simpson and pop icon and businesswoman Rihanna for a striking interpretation of modern beauty.

Within the Of Earth & Sky series are 12 collages and the cover image, which features Rihanna, eyelids coated in bright blue, staring directly at the camera. A diamond collar drapes around her neck, and she’s adorned with a roughly textured crown of crystal derived from 19th-century lithographs.

Many of the superimposed collages feature the Barbados-born singer framed in archival imagery, from star-studded galactic coiffes to bright bursts of watercolor. Others in the collection stray from hairstyle transformations and instead position her against vintage backdrops, including one shot … Read the rest



Spread across a thick field of leeks in the Netherlands is Daan Roosegaarde’s new installation that illuminates the practice of modern farming, highlighting the plants that feed us and their plights. In “Grow,” the Dutch artist and designer, who’s known for glowing, interactive exhibits, implanted the rows with red, blue, and ultraviolet lights that shine vertically across the crop and shift in entrancing motion.

Spanning 20,000-square-meters, the multi-faceted project is both aesthetic and practical: the radiant landscape is visually stunning, while the embedded elements enhance plant growth and cut pesticide use in half. Roosegaarde worked with existing photobiological technology and distinct “light recipes” that are thought to improve crop resistance and their metabolisms without added chemicals. “It gives a new meaning to the word ‘agri-culture’ by reframing the landscape as a living cultural artwork,” the studio says in a statement.

In a conversation with … Read the rest



“At that time it wasn’t easy for me to be in the public with my camera because the country was very sensitive to reporters like me,” photojournalist Hazir Reka tells a group of muralists. “Being in the public with a camera was no different to being in public with a weapon because of how much it could affect reality.” Reka’s referring to a tumultuous time in Kosovo’s history when the region was in the midst of war, an experience he shares with the artists who traveled to the region in September 2020 for Mural Fest Kosovo.

Organized by the art collective Void Projects (previously), which is helmed by Axel Void, the initiative sought to revitalize the public spaces within Ferizaj, a small city desolated by war. Fifteen international muralists—the list includesAruallan, Emilio Cerezo, Doa Oa, Alba Fabre, Maria Jose Gallardo, and Zane Prater—gathered for the project … Read the rest

The three neon pink seesaws that slotted through the U.S.-Mexico border were just named the 2020 Beazley Design of the Year. Conceived by Oakland-based artists Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello (previously), the playful, subversive project was installed in July 2019 between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez and physically connected the two communities despite the 20-foot barrier. The prestigious, annual award comes from London’s Design Museum.

Rael and San Fratello spent a decade working on “Teeter-Totter Wall” before its installation at the border during a particularly divisive time under the Trump administration. Although it was in use for less than an hour, the interactive work intended to foster and display unity between children and adults from both countries as they physically lifted each other up. In response to the administration separating families at the border, Rael wrote about the project:

The teeter-totters represented the kind

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“Eternity” (2019-2020), natural beeswax, wood, glass, Cor-ten steel, 230 x 100 x 100 centimeters. All images © Tomáš Libertíny, shared with permission

Tomáš Libertíny prefers to collaborate when recreating iconic busts and sculptures, although his chosen partners don’t join him in the studio. The Slovakia-born artist tasks tens of thousands of bees with forming the porous outer layers of classic artworks like the “Nefertiti Bust,” Michelangelo’s “Brutus,” and a large jug based on the “Nolan amphora” at The Met.

Encased in honeycomb, the resulting sculptures generate a dialogue between the newly produced organic material and art historical subject matter. Libertíny’s “Eternity,” for example, is based on a 3D model of the original portrait of Nefertiti and is “a testament to the strength and timelessness of the ‘mother nature’ as well as its ancient character as a powerful female reigning against the odds.” Similarly, the artist’s “Brutus” rests on … Read the rest

By Andrew Hem

What brings you hope? That’s the central question behind a new group exhibition presented by Port City Creative Guild. Couriers of Hope boasts more than 120 original pieces from more than 90 artists—the list includes Rosanne Kang Jovanovski, Andrew Hem (previously), Sean Chao (previously), and Yoskay Yamamoto—all rendered on vintage envelopes. Prompted by the mail art movement of the 1960s, the exhibition features an eclectic array of watercolor, pencil, and mixed-media illustrations that transform the miniature canvases into the artists’ vision for the future, whether through relaxed otters, peaches, or vivid portraits. Many of the works prominently display original postmarks and stamps and serve as a reminder that communication doesn’t have to be digital.

Students from Long Beach Unified School District have the opportunity to acquire one of the envelopes by trading their own response to the artists’ same prompt, … Read the rest

All images courtesy of People’s Pottery Project, shared with permission

People’s Pottery Project (PPP) has a simple mission: “to empower formerly incarcerated women, trans, and nonbinary individuals and their communities through the arts.” The value of the Los Angeles-based nonprofit, though, reaches far beyond the ceramics studio where its members carefully sculpt and glaze dinnerware to sell from its warehouse.

At the heart of PPP is mutual aid, a form of community support and solidarity that rapidly expanded at the onset of the pandemic but that has a rich history in political movements. The initiative is multi-faceted—it currently employs three people full-time and two part-time, and formerly incarcerated folks can drop in to help in the production process and be paid for their contributions. Depending on COVID-19 guidance and the ability to meet in-person, PPP also hosts community classes. As restrictions lift in the coming months, the organization plans … Read the rest

Step into Claudia Bueno’s aquarium-style installation at Meow Wolf’s new space in Las Vegas and experience the slow, oscillating movements of natural life. “Pulse” is comprised of countless white line drawings that are meticulously intertwined and superimposed on 60 glass panels. When illuminated, they mimic scores of nautilus spirals, coral, vines, and botanics that sway and throb in glowing masses.

“This is what ‘Pulse’ is, a way of creating animated volumes using layers of drawings that build up. I have been refining this technique for the last six years, understanding how these forms can also have a moving quality when the light system is applied,” the Venezuela-born artist says, noting that the idea for the project grew out of a visit to Yellowstone National Park.

 

During the course of eight months, a team of women painstakingly painted the glass panels at Bueno’s Idaho studio. “The … Read the rest

“Clio’s Dream” (2020), bronze and blue patina. All images © Coderch & Malavia, shared with permission

At the center of Coderch & Malavia’s artistic practice is the beauty of the human figure and its various expressions. The Valencia-based duo works collaboratively to cast bronze sculptures that explore the nuances of the body through dance-like movements and distinct gestures. Natural details like golden branches and feathered wings embellish many of the heavily patinaed works, Coderch & Malavia share, to evoke themes from classic literature, theater, photography, cinema, and ballet. “The human being is three-dimensional,” they say. “Probably that is the main reason why we are attracted to sculpture. It is the closest artistic representation of ourselves.”

After a discussion on intentions for a new project, the pair generally works with a live model to help the sculpture take shape. “The complicated part is organizing and sharing the physical creation of … Read the rest

All images © Shota Suzuki, shared with permission

Staining friend’s hands with dandelion heads and blowing their wispy seeds are a common childhood pastime and a simple joy that Shota Suzuki channels in his delicately constructed sculptures. The Kyoto-based artist painstakingly carves copper, brass, and silver into barbed leaves and feathery seeds to recreate the ubiquitous herbs in each state of bloom and decay.

To tarnish the textured metals and alter their colors, Suzuki uses combinations of vinegar, copper sulfate, and acetic acid to create purples and blues. For the black components, he oxidizes pieces in dissolved sulfur. Suzuki’s coloring techniques are rooted in traditional Japanese patina methods including niiro, which historically used daikon juices to alter the metal, and are the most demanding part of his process. “The chemical modification is very sensitive and is affected by everything from the weather conditions to the dirt on my hands. … Read the rest