“Evolution of Plants,” pen and ink, 30 x 20. All images © Song Kang, shared with permission

Packed with texture and depth, Song Kang’s ink-based drawings begin with “I wonder…I wonder how this will look compared to that, or I wonder if I can mix this and that,” she says. The Atlanta-based illustrator renders rich labyrinths populated by elements from land and sea that are depicted in an otherworldly manner: candy-colored liquid drips from a bonsai, fish and butterflies coexist in the same dense ecosystem, and a maze of M.C. Escher-style lizards sprawls across the page.

Each illustration is infused with ideas of evolution and the connection inherent in nature, themes that present themselves in both subject matter and Kang’s process. Often prompted by a loose idea, she starts with a sketch and works organically, drawing the intricate and minute details from one corner to the next. Her process … Read the rest



Collectively, we use a staggering amount of single-use plastic each year—we buy one million plastic bottles each minute around the world—most of which ends up in landfills, oceans, and other natural spaces. Nzambi Matee, a 29-year-old entrepreneur from Nairobi, is combatting this global crisis by recycling bags, containers, and other waste products into bricks used for patios and other construction projects.

Prior to launching her company, Gjenge Makers, Matee worked as a data analyst and oil-industry engineer. After encountering plastic waste along Nairobi’s streets, she decided to quit her job and created a small lab in her mother’s backyard, testing sand and plastic combinations. Matee eventually received a scholarship to study in the materials lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she ultimately developed a prototype for the machine that now produces the textured bricks.

Made from a combination of plastic and sand, the pavers have a … Read the rest

Category Winner. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 © Renee Capozzola (U.S.) /UPY2021. All images courtesy of UPY 2021, shared with permission

An exquisite shot of blacktip reef sharks circling underneath a jewel-toned sky in French Polynesia tops this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year contest (previously). Captured by California-based Renee Capozzola, the winning entry frames a pair of the white-bellied fish and airborne seagulls, forming a serendipitous composition that combines air, land, and sea. “I dedicated several evenings to photographing in the shallows at sunset, and I was finally rewarded with this scene: glass-calm water, a rich sunset, sharks, and even birds,” she said.

This year’s competition received more than 4,500 entries from photographers in 68 countries, including images of wrecked barges, frogs peering out from a muddy pond, and two ornery blenny mid-tussle. Capozzola is the first woman to ever win the U.K.-based contest since … Read the rest

All images © Christoph Niemann, shared with permission

For Christoph Niemann (previously), all it takes is a halved apple or pliers lying around his studio to spur a quirky drawing featuring the random object. The illustrator is known for his Sunday Sketches, a weekly drawing series, that play with scale and position. Imbued with humor, the cleverly arranged compositions turn a red pencil into a megaphone or a splayed book into a cat’s whiskers.

Although Niemann usually lives in New York for part of the year, he’s been working from his studio in Berlin since the onset of the pandemic. “I’m spending a lot of time just drawing—cityscapes, animals I saw at the zoo (one of the few places that are still open to visit), and turning these drawings into silkscreens and linocuts,” he tells Colossal.

Prior to lockdown, he was visiting cities like London and Tallin creating … Read the rest

Nanette, an Englewood resident, sits on and Wade’s porch in Edgewater. All images © Tonika Johnson, shared with permission

Though not Chicago’s true geographic center, the intersection of Madison Street, which runs east to west, and State Street, which runs north to south, is the central point for the city’s address system. Chicago native Tonika Johnson, however, has been viscerally aware that the north-south dividing line is not a mere postal distinction since she was a teenaged photographer, an experience she discusses in the latest interview supported by Colossal Members.

Doing this project and talking to so many people across racial lines has taught me that it’s like this self-perpetuating, self-fulfilling prophecy of segregation. If your worlds are so separate, you’re only going to understand it as much as your lived experience allows. You can find truth in whatever silly thing you think because you don’t have anything

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All images © Allison May Kiphuth, shared with permission

Allison May Kiphuth (previously) shrinks the expansive landscapes found throughout the eastern United States into picturesque dioramas brimming with natural life. Through layered watercolor and ink renderings, the Maine-based artist creates a mix of quiet forest scenes and ocean habitats often under a dark, nighttime sky. She then stacks the outfitted wooden boxes, blending the marine and land-based pieces in varying positions that create new ecosystems with every combination.

Although Kiphuth derives much of her subject matter from the area around her home, she shares that experiencing new scenes is essential to her practice. “I haven’t been outside of Maine in over a year, and while this landscape is usually so expansively beautiful to me, without the contrast of other landscapes for perspective, it’s been feeling incredibly small,” a feeling that’s amplified by her living and working from a … Read the rest

“The Interrupted Sleep” (1750) by François Boucher

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 for Artists newsletter.

 

Grants & Fellowships

Creative Capital Award Applications Now Open
Artists selected for a Creative Capital Award may receive up to $50,000 in funding for new projects, as well as a wide range of counsel, career development, and networking opportunities to make their work come to life. Deadline: March 1, 2021.

Designing a Better Chicago: Design Impact Grants
The Design Impact grant provides annual, project-specific grants to individuals and organizations using design or design principles to directly address pressing issues in Chicago communities. The program will award $25,000 in sum total. Deadline: March 12, 2021.

Francis Read the rest

All images courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Nicole Havekost describes her towering figures as exhibiting the contradiction of “sublime embarrassment… Bodies are magical and glorious and gross and bewildering. Bodies are civilized and feral.” Through hand-sewn sculptures, the Rochester-based artist explores the ways aging affects peoples’ figures and the emotional process of adjusting to a new reality.

She stitches large anthropomorphic works from industrial felt, shaping bodies that are bulging and covered with knots and uneven seams that serve as a reminder of restoration. Havekost explains:

These are the visible representations of the making and mending, repairing and refinishing, we are engaged in as human beings on a daily basis. It shows where we have been and marks where we are going. My figures show their imperfect repairs outwardly, unlike most of us who put on our best public faces. As I have aged, I have

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“Untitled” (2018), mild steel, 1900 x 1850 x 900 millimeters. All images © Regardt Van Der Meulen, shared with permission

Regardt Van Der Meulen is concerned with the ephemerality of human life, a fascination that manifests in his sweeping steel sculptures. Fragmented and oversized, the works juxtapose the unyielding material with the movement inherent in the figures’ poses and the shapes of their garments. Each of their bodies is incomplete, whether through a bisected limb or torso gaping with negative space.

Based in Johannesburg, Van Der Meulen shares that much of his work exposes the vulnerability of the body and how both minute and drastic changes alter its presentation. Branches, geometric pieces, and erosion interrupt the nondescript figures, serving as a metaphor for their mental and physical instability, as well as the precarious state of the natural world and civilization. The artist writes:

I am fascinated by human mortality and

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“Devouring Star Jelly.” All images © Robert Steven Connett, shared with permission probes the ocean depths for

Whether rendered as a snapshot of the ocean floor or a few drops of water under a microscope, the densely inhabited paintings by Robert Steven Connett (previously) are brimming with vitality. The Los Angeles-based artist probes the planet’s bodies of water, unveiling a range of flora and fauna that populate the mysterious and sometimes psychedelic ecosystems with exacting detail.

From jellyfish and seaweed to microbes, the organisms memorialize Earth’s dwindling biodiversity. The onslaught of news concerning the climate crisis informs how Connett understands the urgency of his works—they evoke Ernst Haeckel’s illustrations but diverge from the German biologist’s drawings in color palette and foreboding elements—which serve as both earnest studies of aquatic creatures and  “a tribute to life as it was before the great extinctions began.”

Even so, Connett shares … Read the rest