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

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

Hidden Mother: Swaths of Fabric Disguise Figures in Mixed-Media Portraits by Artist Sarah Detweiler

“The Nightowl” (2021), oil, embroidery thread, and yarn on canvas in a wood frame, 28 x 22 inches. All images courtesy of Paradigm Gallery, shared with permission

The lengthy exposure times required by 19th Century photography were not conducive to newborns and fidgety toddlers, a problem many mothers tried to remedy by cloaking themselves in fabric and hiding behind furniture. As a result, those Victorian-era portraits, while capturing an endearing stage of life, are often spectral and slightly unnerving, shadowed by phantom limbs and textile silhouettes that closely resemble an inanimate backdrop despite their lively features.

This desire for disguise informs the multi-media works of Philadelphia-area artist Sarah Detweiler, whose ongoing series Hidden Mother is on view at Paradigm Gallery through May 22. Depicted without children, Detweiler’s portraits subvert the original photographs to instead draw attention to the figures otherwise purposely relegated to the background. Fabrics rendered with a combination … Read the rest

Underwater Photos Taken During Blackwater Dives Frame the Atlantic Ocean’s Stunning Diversity

Female blanket octopus in Palm Beach, Florida. All images licensed, © BluePlanetArchive/Steven Kovacs

After sunset, self-taught photographer Steven Kovacs plunges into the open ocean around Palm Beach to shoot the minuscule, unassuming creatures floating in the depths. He’s spent the last eight years on blackwater dives about 730 feet off the eastern coast of Florida in a process that “entails drifting near the surface at night from 0 to 100 feet over very deep water.” Often framing species rarely seen by humans, Kovac shoots the larval fish against the dark backdrop in a way that highlights the most striking aspects of their bodies, including wispy, translucent fins, iridescent features, and bulbous eyes.

Because Kovacs doesn’t have formal training in marine biology, he often enlists the help of scientists around the world to identify many of the rare fish he photographs. At the top of his list for future encounters … Read the rest

A Rare Toshiba Typewriter from the 1950s Operates with a Trilingual Index of Thousands of Characters



In the 1940s, Toshiba began producing index typewriters with massive, horizontal cylinders containing thousands of symbols. One edition, the BW-2112—watch the demonstration by the New Orleans-based Typewriter Collector above to see how the redesign utilizes manual rotation and a metal pointer to print the characters—was a particularly advanced model with keys in three languages: Japanese, Chinese, and English.

The trilingual device ordered the characters in a manner similar to what you’d find in a Japanese dictionary, which is explained on the Typewriter Collector’s page as follows:

They’re arranged phonetically by most common “on-yomi” (or kun-yomi in some cases) according to the kana syllabary (many homophones, of course)… Red characters help parse the readings. Last character to left of equal sign can be pronounced “kin” (exert) and the first character in next row “gin” (silver), then “ku” (suffer) in red followed by “kuu” (sky, empty), “kuma” (bear), “kun” (teachings, meaning

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Trompe L’oeil Textiles Billow Across Murals by Rosie Woods in Iridescent Ripples

“Veils of Knowledge” at Grenoble Street Art Festival in France. Photo by Andrea Berlese. All images © Rosie Woods, shared with permission

As if lifted by a breeze, oversized ribbons and bunches of fabric float across the trompe l’oeil murals by London-based artist Rosie Woods. The gleaming, prismatic textiles sway and subtly twist into folds and ripples in the spray-painted works. Through the flowing movements, Woods explores the fluid, ever-changing nature of the human experience by synthesizing abstraction and realism. She explains:

I often wonder what my soul would look like if it manifested itself as an object I could see and touch on this earth.  My artwork today looks to express the depth, growth, and complexity of the mind as well as its ability to encompass both light and dark spaces emotionally. I’d like to think you can “feel” my artwork with your eyes.

Woods translates her massive, lustrous … Read the rest

A Heartwarming Animation Set to Poetry Reminds Us ‘How to Be at Home’



As we collectively count down the days until we can safely enjoy post-vaccination visits with friends and family, a delightful animation has a comforting message for those of us struggling to reign in our anxiety: “If this disruption undoes you, if the absence of people unravels you…lean into loneliness and know you’re not alone in it.”

A collaboration between poet Tanya Davis and filmmaker Andrea Dorfman, “How to Be at Home” plucks some of the same scenarios from the duo’s wildly popular “How to Be Alone”—watch the 2010 film on YouTube and pick up the illustrated book from Bookshop—and translates them into quarantine terms fit for 2020: where benches and public transit once were spaces ripe for interaction, they’re now hazards to be avoided, and a lunch-time scroll through your phone is no longer a distraction but a welcome way to stay connected.

The animated scenes emerge from the … Read the rest

Interview: A Conversation with Curator Tam Gryn Unpacks the Innovative Mix of Art and Retail Behind SHOWFIELDS

Perrier x Murakami collaboration at SHOWFIELDS NYC. All images © SHOWFIELDS, shared with permission

We recently sat down with SHOWFIELDS head curator Tam Gryn for a conversation about the unique blend of shopping, art, brand activations, and events that drive the innovative retail concept. With locations in New York City and Miami, the relatively new space already has generated fruitful collaborations between an impressive array of artists, companies, and organizations, including Perrier x Murakami, Tax Collection, Brooke DiDonato, Kenny Sharf, Ekaterina Popova, Filthy Luker, and the Whitney and Brooklyn museums.

Often working in response to cultural shifts and consumer demands, Gryn’s curatorial decisions are geared toward sustainability and collective movement. She explains:

As a curator, I try to find patterns in generational truths. What I see since last year is that our whole generation is screaming for healing at the top of their lungs: healing from this pandemic, healing medically,

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The Japan Foundation Reinterprets Distance in a New Online Exhibition Featuring Work from 11 Artists

Sato Masaharu, “I want to be a wolf” (2017), video (silent), loop, private collection. Image © Estate of Masaharu Sato

Reinterpreting distance in our coexistence with COVID-19, the Japan Foundation presents an online exhibition from March 30 to May 5. 11 Stories on Distanced Relationships: Contemporary Art from Japan features works by Japanese and Japan-based contemporary artists that are centered on the theme of translating distance. The exhibition aims to promote new artistic exchanges in this time of COVID-19, which has brought restrictions to our lives that are forcing us to be conscious of togetherness and separation.

Communication had been speeding up, and now a major turning point has arrived in how we interact. People are beginning to explore and build new relationships based on the assumption that they are apart. Instead of thinking of distance in purely physical terms, what words can we replace those distances with, or translate … Read the rest

Artist Amy Sherald Depicts a Vast Array of Black Leisure through Monumental and Nuanced Portraits

“A Midsummer Afternoon Dream” (2020), oil on canvas, 106 x 101 x 2.5 inches. All images courtesy of Hauser & Wirth, shared with permission

Amy Sherald plumbs the multitudes of Black leisure in The Great American Fact, a series of arresting portraits that are currently on view at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. From a woman resting on a bicycle to two surfers readying for the water, the oil-based paintings observe moments of respite and pleasure at a monumental scale, sometimes spanning nearly nine feet across.

Although she surrounds her subjects with vivid patches of color and portrays them wearing bright garments, Sherald (previously) continues to render her subjects’ skin in her signature grayscale, which she’s described in recent years as a way to have the figures read “in a universal way, where they could become a part of the mainstream art historical narrative.” This new series also features … Read the rest