Evoking Historical Struggles, Hank Willis Thomas Examines the Intersection of Art and Activism

“If the Leader Only Knew” (2014). All images © Hank Willis Thomas, shared with permission

Through his bronze sculptures and public installations, Hank Willis Thomas (previously) examines history’s repetitions. The Brooklyn-based artist critically considers identity, social justice, and pop culture by visually weaving together the remains of the past that surface in present day. “Art is a platform where histories meet,” he tells Colossal.

Thomas’s sculptural pieces include a series of hands clenching a barbed wire fence, an oversized hair pick lodged into concrete, and a gleaming basketball balancing on players’ fingertips. No matter the medium, the interdisciplinary artist begins by examining advertisements and archival images and the messages those contain. “The transfer of a photograph into a three-dimensional expression allows the viewer to delve within a photograph and form an intimate understanding of the ideas it represents. That relationship inspires critical thought about the viewer themselves and … Read the rest

“If the Leader Only Knew” (2014). All images © Hank Willis Thomas, shared with permission

Through his bronze sculptures and public installations, Hank Willis Thomas (previously) examines history’s repetitions. The Brooklyn-based artist critically considers identity, social justice, and pop culture by visually weaving together the remains of the past that surface in present day. “Art is a platform where histories meet,” he tells Colossal.

Thomas’s sculptural pieces include a series of hands clenching a barbed wire fence, an oversized hair pick lodged into concrete, and a gleaming basketball balancing on players’ fingertips. No matter the medium, the interdisciplinary artist begins by examining advertisements and archival images and the messages those contain. “The transfer of a photograph into a three-dimensional expression allows the viewer to delve within a photograph and form an intimate understanding of the ideas it represents. That relationship inspires critical thought about the viewer themselves and … Read the rest

Enhance! Explore the Orion Constellation in Astounding Detail with This 2.5 Gigapixel Image That Took Five Years to Complete

Full image of “Project Orion.” All images © Matt Harbison, shared with permission

For the past five years, Chattanooga-based astrophotographer Matt Harbison has poured more than 500 hours into capturing the minute details of the Orion constellation, an immense undertaking that’s culminated in a stunning 2.5 gigapixel image. In its entirety, “Project Orion” is composed of 2,508 individual shots meticulously stitched together into a fiery, star-studded mosaic.

In a statement about the monumental project, Harbison writes that his fascination with the neblua began in childhood during camping trips and Boy Scout excursions and later, as he drove to high school and college. Orion “was always there, seemingly inconspicuous.  I have always felt a connection to this cosmic way-finder. Big decisions and events in my life came and went, yet those stars seemed to always find their way into my consciousness,” he says.

 

A close-up of “Project Orion”

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Artists Explore Self-Expression Through Bizarre and Whimsical Masks at Denver’s Vicki Myhren Gallery

Felicia Murray, “Our Dying Reefs,” felted COVID mask, 2020. All photos shared with permission.

There is perhaps no symbol more representative of contemporary life than the humble face mask. A simple health device crucial to saving millions of lives around the world from a deadly COVID-19 pandemic spread by invisible airborne pathogens, and yet an object that’s been quixotically politicized at the callous expense of humanity for the gain of an elite few. A new exhibition at the University of Denver’s Vicki Myhren Gallery approaches the lighter side of face coverings: the ancient tradition of masks as self-expression.

Arranged on mannequins lining the gallery space, over 40 artists present interpretations of protective face wear in MASK, currently on view by appointment through December 1, 2020. The collection of whimsical, grotesque, quirky, and beautiful masks are medically non-functional but guaranteed to provoke a reaction through their novel construction. Several designs … Read the rest

Textural Sculptures by Artist Jessica Drenk Use Junk Mail, Book Pages, and Q-Tips to Explore Materiality

“Dendrite” (2019), Q-tips and plaster. All images © Jessica Drenk, courtesy of Galleri Urbane, shared with permission

Montana-born artist Jessica Drenk (previously) employs simple materials, like shopping flyers and standard No. 2 pencils, to create organic sculptures that are chaotic and arresting explorations of the substances themselves. Bundled Q-tips spread across a site-specific installation like the roots of a tree, a carved section of plywood reveals concentric patterns, and strips of junk mail are plastered together in long waves.

While Drenk’s latest series, titled Transmutations, is diverse and ranges from wall pieces to cavernous sculptures, each artwork explores materiality and how disparate shapes and textures combine to create forms that are new both physically and conceptually. The artist explains in a statement:

In treating everyday objects as raw material to sculpt, I practice a form of conceptual alchemy: through physically manipulating these objects their meanings become

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Overflowing with Flora and Fauna, Collaged Paper Installations Comment on Earth’s Dwindling Biodiversity

“Intimate Immensity” (2016). Photograph by Trevor Good. All images © Clare Börsch, shared with permission

Sprawling across paint-chipped walls and tiny alcoves, the collaged installations of artist Clare Börsch mimic overgrown jungles and whimsical forest scenes. Layers of flora, fauna, and the occasional gemstone or human figure comprise the amorphous paper artworks as they transform spaces into fantastical ecosystems.

In a note to Colossal, Börsch shares that she began her artistic practice as a way to translate her dreams, which are often lucid and informed by memories and a strong tie to nature, into physical objects that others could immerse themselves in. “Growing up in Brazil, I had the ocean, rivers, and jungles that always existed in stark contrast to the industrial cities (I lived in Sao Paulo). So my earliest and most formative memories are of lush, humming tropical ecosystems —and the encroaching industrial landscapes of Brazil’s cities,” she … Read the rest

Strength: Pejac Honors Spain’s Health Workers with a Moving Trio of Interventions

“Overcoming.” All images © Pejac, shared with permission

On the campus of University Hospital Marqués de Valdecilla in Santander, Spain, a trio of interventions by street artist Pejac (previously) simultaneously responds to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and offers potential paths for healing. The new series, titled Strength, is Pejac’s direct response to the 50,000 people who have died from the virus in his home country. “The idea of the Strength project arises as a gesture of gratitude to the health workers of Valdecilla, for their work in general and during this Covid crisis in particular. Offering them what I do best, which is painting,” the artist says.

In “Social Distancing” (shown below), a horde of people escape from a crevice in the building’s facade. The trompe l’oei artwork is a multi-layered metaphor for the ways the virus has ruptured society and the necessity of community care and … Read the rest

Lustrous Strips of Glass Bisect Debris, Bricks, and Semi-Precious Stones in Ramon Todo’s Sculptures

“Debris” (2016), debris and layered glass. All images courtesy of Art Front Gallery, © Keiso Kioku, shared with permission

Between gnarly chunks of concrete, basalt pillars, and smooth rounds of lapis lazuli, Ramon Todo (previously) positions sleek segments of layered glass. The Tokyo-born artist splices fragments of found objects that otherwise would be regarded as refuse, like a crumbling brick from Iizuka City or coal waste, to repurpose the existing material with a lustrous embellishment.

Whether volcanic rock or chunks of demolished architecture, the resulting juxtapositions carry the original history, although they’re presented anew. “The characteristics of the place. The uniqueness of the place. Like the memories of the place and time,” the artist says in an interview about a recent solo show at Art Front Gallery in Tokyo. “I use the rocks, debris, Bota (stone similar to coal) for my works believing they have such memories … Read the rest

Circular Paintings Expose the Fleshy Innards of Halved Oranges, Pomegranates, and Other Fruits

“#65 (orange)” (2017), oil on canvas, 20 inches. All images © Alonsa Guevara, shared with permission

Using round canvases with a range of diameters, Alonsa Guevara deftly paints the plump, juicy insides of oranges, watermelon, and other fruits. Each circular piece depicts a seemingly perfect slice down the middle, capturing the fibrous veins and central seeds found within fresh produce.

Guevara spent her childhood in the Ecuadorian rainforests surrounded by tropical landscapes and nearby agriculture, an experience of nature that influences her artistic practice. The Chilean artist, who lives in New York City, began fruit portraits in 2014 as she reflected on her adolescence and thought of creating a body of work that felt universal.

“Immediately I thought of fruits; they are everywhere and have been present as an essential part of evolution and as symbols throughout human history,” Guevara shares with Colossal. “I decided to paint the fruits cut … Read the rest

Mantra’s Trompe L’oeil Murals Encase Enormous Butterflies in Vintage-Style Boxes

Torino, Italy. All images © Mantra, shared with permission

Working with entomologists around the globe, the French street artist known as Mantra (previously) transforms brick facades and concrete walls into massive studies of local butterfly specimens. With framed outer edges that mimic a wooden box, the trompe l’oeil murals render the winged insects in detail, depicting their richly hued scales and delicate antennae. Each artwork features species native to the area, making it possible that a live specimen might flutter by its enormous counterpart.

In a conversation with Colossal, Mantra said he’s harbored a lifelong fascination with entomology that stems from spending hours in French gardens and bucolic areas as a kid. “As a child, I was interested, curious, and focused on the small life forms in those places,” he says. His current practice hearkens back to those carefree hours and connects with an adolescent desire to become … Read the rest

Cindy Sherman, Ed Ruscha, and More Than 150 Photographers Are Selling $150 Prints to Combat Voter Suppression

Photograph © Alec Soth. “Priscilla, Los Angeles, (from The Last Days of W)” (2008), 10 x 12 inches

An ongoing print sale is bolstering fundraising efforts that promote progressive organizing in five battleground states. Offering work from more than 150 photographers and artists—including Cindy Sherman, Alec Soth, and Ed RuschaStates of Change is selling 10 x 12-inch prints for $150 each with all proceeds going to the Movement Voter Project, which is targeting 42 local organizations dedicated to fighting voter suppression in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All are printed on 100 percent cotton paper, unsigned, and part of an open edition. Check out Colossal’s picks below, and grab your favorites before the five-day sale ends on October 18. (via Artnet)

 

Photograph © Camille Seaman. “Iceberg in Blood Red Sea, Lemaire Channel, Antarctica” (29 December 2016), 10 x 12 inches

Photograph ©

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