Kim Alsbrooks (previously) began painting historical portraits on crushed cans in 2004 while living in the South. The series “My White Trash Family” was born out of the frustration of prevailing ideologies of class distinction, ideas she decided to challenge by placing portraits of the past onto everyman’s consumerist leftovers. These paintings are typically depicted straight from 17th to 18th centuries, and tend to match the material environment they are placed upon (either through color choice, content, or both).
For each painting a gesso layer is applied first, followed by a drawn image in graphite, and finally oil paint and varnish. Alsbrooks only uses detritus she finds on the streets, faithfully sticking to cans that have already been trampled and crushed flat. Difficulty comes in finding the perfect cans, as they must be free of wrinkles that would impede upon on the paintings she places within the center of each surface.
Alsbrooks estimates that she has painted more than 700 of these portraits over the last 11 years, and the series will culminate with an exhibition at the Racine Art Museum in September of this year alongside jewelry maker Nikki Coupee. Alsbrooks often elaborates on the background of the portraits she paints, descriptions behind the portraits’ selection can be found on her blog here.
In an attempt to better understand exactly what happens as a bee grows from an egg into an adult insect, photographer Anand Varma teamed up with the bee lab at UC Davis to film the first three weeks of a bee’s life in unprecedented detail, all condensed into a 60-second clip. The video above presented by National Geographic doesn’t include commentary, but Varma explains everything in a TED talk included below. The primary goal in photographing the bees was to learn how they interact with an invasive parasitic mite that has quickly become the greatest threat to bee colonies. Scientists have learned to breed mite-resistant bees which they are now trying to introduce into the wild. Learn more about it in this video:
For the third year in a row Chicago artist Jim Bachor (previously here and here) has taken it upon himself to preemptively fix city potholes by filling them with themed mosaics. This year Bachor decided on a series of 10 pothole mosaics called Treats in the Streets featuring different kinds of ice cream. At the latest count, four artworks have appeared in locations around Chicago, and he traveled all the way to Jyväskylä, Finland last week to do three more mosaics including a local popsicle-like dessert called Amppari-mehujaa. Bachor says to keep an eye out for three more pieces back home in Chicago sometime before spring is out.
British ceramicist Tamsin van Essen is fascinated by what she describes as the “the fragile boundary between attraction and repulsion,” a place where tension is created by the visible and the obscured. For her Erosion series Essen created layered blocks of alternating black and white porcelain which she then sandblasted to mimic biological forms similar to a parasitic virus in the process of devouring a host. In a even more literal example, she created a series of ceramic vessels that appear to be infected with specific bacteria.
For his ongoing series “Art History in Contemporary Life,” Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov takes scenes and figures lifted from classical paintings and drops them into modern-day life. Bouguereau’s Song of the Angels appears to take place on an empty subway car while a pair of men from Holbein’s famous The Ambassadors are transported to the table of a seedy bar. Much like Etienne Lavie’s billboard series and Julien de Casabianca’s recent Outings Project, the series creates an interesting and playful new context for artworks usually only encountered in museums and art history books. You can see more over on Facebook. (via Supersonic)
While it’s certainly not the longest, this weight-bearing structure is definitely one of the more interesting bridges we’ve come across. Unveiled earlier this month, PaperBridge is the latest site-specific installation by environmental artist Steve Messam. It was constructed using 22,000 sheets of bright, red paper. And despite weighing in at over 4.2 tons, the free-standing structure doesn’t have a single screw, bolt or swab of glue holding it together.
On an aesthetic level, PaperBridge acts as focal point that creates a stark contrast between the bridge and the lush landscape. But on a conceptual level, Messam explains the key relationship between the bridge and its surroundings:
Paper is a simple material made from wood pulp and water. The intensity of colour used in the bridge contrasts with the verdant landscape making a bold statement of form and design. Alongside this the materials used have a resonance with the natural environment and the construction of the bridge also reflects local architectural forms, specifically pack horse bridges found throughout the area. All of the paper used in PaperBridge will be recovered and returned to the Burneside Mill for recycling into new paper once the project ends. This transparent cycle is part of the overall environmental narrative of the piece.
PaperBridge was part of the ‘Lakes Ignite’ project. It was located in the Grisedale Valley, near Patterdale and the public was invited to walk across it before it gets taken down today. (via Designboom and The Kid Should See This)
When looking at these wall-mounted sculptures depicting wrinkled dresses that sprout leaves or butterflies by artist Ron Isaacs (previously), you would be forgiven for thinking they were constructed from anything other than their actual materials: plywood and acrylic paint. Isaacs uses pieces of layered Finnish birch to construct every detail of these architectural clothes which he then covers in trompe l’oeil painting to create the illusion of depth. “I am still fascinated by the old simple idea of resemblance, the very first idea of art after tools and shelter: That an object made of one material can take on the outward appearance and therefore some of the ‘reality. of another,” says Isaacs. You can see his most recent collection of work as part of his second solo show at Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee through May 23, 2015.