I’m such a sucker for vintage photos. The mystery and nostalgia totally gets to me. I do, however, think it’s quite difficult to use vintage photos in contemporary art without having the whole piece look dated and frumpy. Nicole Crock’s photo and installation series,Tessellate, updates vintage looks into something completely modern and really captivating. It is very cool.
Plus, she describes the whole process and inspiration really eloquently on her site.
Tessellate is an ongoing project that uses vintage photographs of people and their homes found in thrift stores and antique malls. These left-behind images are disconnected from their origins but retain the vague ache of unknowable history as they are transformed into abstract, nostalgic tessellations. With each installment of the project the images and sculptures morph and multiply.
I love the 3D installation aspect, but the flat images have a really strong dimensionality as well. They are crisp and clean, without sacrificing depth or meaning. That’s a difficult balance to strike so needless to say, I am impressed. And some of them are available on Etsy! Score! I am moving across the country next month and will be settling into a new apartment (and life) so the themes here of estrangement and home are resonating especially well with me at the moment.
I’ve moved many times in my life, making the idea of home and community very significant to me. Ignited by this interest in location and movement, I tell the stories of place and transformation using found and constructed materials. I examine the elements of home through varied mediums including sculpture, installation, and performance.
Okay, this is too cool not to share. Mikko Kuorinki created this installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Finland called “Wall Piece with 200 Letters,” and I love it. The concept, the execution, everything. It’s simply beautiful.
As the title implies, Kuorinki created a poem or phrase from a finite set of letters which changed every week for a year. Part performance and part installation, the exhibit used text as both and aesthetic element and as a way to disrupt conventions of human behavior and communication.
Here are a couple favorites but the whole exhibition is documented on Kuorinki’s website.
Have you ever heard of the “feminine grotesque?” Neither had I. But the descriptor seems to fit Jessica Stoller’s ceramic works like a glove. These delicate and intricate porcelain sculptures are undoubtably girlish creations but with a darker edge. It’s totally badass.
I think Hyperallergic described her installation perfectly:
“At first glance, the grinning skull may not so much alarm you because the whole ensemble appears perfectly frilly, pastel, and proper. It takes a minute to register that a number of the desserts appear to be made from breasts, others topped with hands whose fingernails look like they belong to some Cruella de Vil–like personification of death. At one end of the table, what looks like a pastry features the visage of a blonde woman, her lips an icy purplish pink and a fly grazing on her left cheek. Suddenly the chocolate dripping from the strawberries at the other end begins to look quite sinister.”
So yeah. Creepy and weird and also incredible. Check her out.
I am so obsessed with the Gutai Collective. They were such originals and complete badasses who really put the Japanese avant guard on the map. So, I am pretty freaking excited that my last ever college assignment was a research paper for my Arts of Japan class, titled “Breaking the Rules and Bridging the Gap: Violence and Play in the Gutai Art of Postwar Japan.”
In particular I am really excited about the work of Tanaka Atsukoand had fun analyzing her Electric Dress from 1956 for my paper:
“It is by far Tanaka’s most recognized work and shows both an interest in new technology and a reference to the past fashions of Japanese women. The Electric Dress is a costume made entirely from light bulbs, electric cables, and enamel paint. Tanaka painted oblong bulbs in bright enamel colors to create a Technicolor spectacle. The artist wore her dress around the gallery and interacted with the piece in a playful and physical way. . Visually this piece is incredibly playful and embodies the Gutai principles of originality and innovation. It is frivolous and absurdist and would never have been permitted during the severity of World War II and occupied Japan.
This celebration of technology and of electricity looks eagerly to the future. However, there is a violence and danger to her work as well. As one can imagine, being incased in a cocoon of bright florescent blubs would have been extremely hot and rather dangerous. ‘It was at once a flashy costume that seduced the eye and the imagination, and an unsafe instrument that threatened to electrocute the wearer, tear down the boundaries of painting, and make uncanny reference to the effects of nuclear war.’ The political climate of Japan postwar Japan was ever present in the work of Gutai artists as they constantly grappled with the shock of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in July of 1945. This bright and cheerful outfit was also a source of fear and anxiety for the artist. The vast and inspiring potential of new technology could only exist with the looming fear of nuclear power and destruction. Tanaka’s Electric Dress exists in a space between joy and terror and draws on both the future and the past. Like other works of the Gutai collective, it looks to the global art conversation while remaining intimately tied to Japan’s historic and cultural past.”
What a badass!
I’ve been taking some extra time lately to explore the various art communities on Instagram. And there are a lot of them. Like tons. Because it’s such a visual platform, Instagram attracts a lot of brilliant and creative people. Not just photographers either, but people who are making art in all sorts of mediums. One of these new discoveries that has me totally inspired is Elizabeth Pawle. She is an illustrator and textile artist who sells her work on Etsy. She is crazy talented and makes these epic wall hangings using burlap and embroidery thread. The series is called Scatterings and features beautifully textured abstract patterns in bright neon colors. She uses yarn and wool and all sorts of other fun odds and ends in order to create something both visually stunning and completely unique. I love these. I think they are so cool. The bright pinks and yellows really pop against the beige background and it all fits together into something completely cohesive.
Check her out on Instagram. Or buy her stuff on Etsy. But as you’d probably expect, the waiting list for one of these bad boys is a mile long, so good luck.
Katherine Jury (or @katefjury as she’s known on Instagram) creates beautiful abstract paintings in soft sherbet colors. They are low-key gorgeous and perfect for spring/easter/whenever. I feel like a lot of contemporary art tries to shock and awe, to blast your senses and make it impossible to look away. Jury’s art doesn’t do that. But not all art needs to demand attention, some just needs to ask politely. And I would argue that this type of unassuming beauty is a lot harder to pull off.
Instead of being in-your-face, Jury’s art is subtly captivating in a way that requires serious restraint and skill. Plus it makes me feel like spring is here so that is a major plus.
Kate Jury has a gorgeous website and blog and was once featured in my all-time favorite Design Love Fest “dress your tech” post.
The Claremont Spotlite is a brand new online publication that highlights local artists and cultural events in the Claremont area. It’s a really neat idea and, despite just launching this year, the site already has a bunch of great content. Last week I wrote a guest blog post for them where I got to rant about art. In particular, I wrote about how I’ve been using the widespread availability of online arts communities as an excuse to stop experiencing art in person. Why trek all the way into LA during rush hour traffic to see an exhibition when I can discover just as many inspiring and innovative artists on Tumblr? It’s all online. I don’t even need museums or galleries anymore!
It’s been something that I’ve grappled with a lot over the past year but I’ve recently been reinvigorated by in-person art experiences. If that’s at all interesting to you, go check out the article on Spotlite for some personal musings and unsolicited advice.
With the unlimited potential of a Google search bar, it’s easy to forget about the opportunities for discovery that exist right here in sleepy Claremont. Finding artists online is so easy that I often don’t pursue opportunities that are unique to my geographic location. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually made it to an LA gallery show, and I can count the number of museum visits on two. The Internet is an amazing tool, but I fear that I have been using it as a crutch instead; as a way to avoid seeking out creative experiences in person. With the whole world wide web at my fingertips, it is easy to forget that we have an impeccably curated gallery right here on campus. Every time I stumble into the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery I am impressed by the variety and caliber of artists shown, but I always forget it’s there. I always plan to attend the exhibitions, but even as an Art History major, I’ve missed more shows than I’ve attended.
I am such a sucker for impeccably executed mixed media art and vintage ladies advertisements. So my obsession with Kelly O’Connor is not at all surprising. I actually had to check and make sure that I hadn’t already written about her because I’ve been a fan for a while.
Her 2014 exhibition at the David Shelton Gallery is absolutely fantastic. The entire space was transformed into a Wizard of Oz-y masterpiece of whimsical sparkles and pastel colors. Plus the work manages to explore and critique products targeting women’s bodies in a way that feels fresh and interesting. The product studies in particular have me completely awestruck.
She’s Flawless. Her work is flawless. Go look at other things she’s created on her website. And ask her if she wants to be my best friend. because that would be cool.
Sophie Victoria Elliot uses aerial landscapes and maps as the basis for her abstract paintings. She is inspired by geology and tries to capture shifting movements under the earth’s surface in each of her works. She even organizes them by location on her website. How cool is that?
If you look at these pieces you can totally see the inspiration shine through. But even if the cartographical explanation doesn’t blow your mind, they are still super pretty. Moody color studies with gorgeous and unexpected combinations. I am infinitely impressed.
Since I started this blog I have discovered a lot of insanely talented people. Often they are only a few years older than I am. And often they are wildly successful. This is absolutely inspiring but it’s also pretty intimidating.
I set out on this internet-documented journey in order to grow creatively and and express myself. But it’s easy for me to look at these incredible artists and start to doubt my own ability to contribute, making less and feeling worse about what I am making.
I stumbled across this video and the words of Ira Glass a couple days ago. It has really reinvigorated me and I am hoping for some good creative karma by spreading it around. Get inspired!