National Geographic just announced the winners and honorable mentions of the 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year. The dramatic winning photo of a lightning bolt flashing atop the Colima Volcano in Mexico was captured by Sergio Tapiro Velasco. The awards and honorable mentions are defined across three categories: Nature, People, and Cities. Collected here are 10 of our favorites images, but can you see the rest on National Geographic.
Flattening three-dimensional installations into two-dimensional images, Alexa Meade compresses reality by covering models in specifically applied paint, making sure to focus on painted shadows and highlights to transform her posed subjects into paintings. Meade’s works, which she has referred to as “reverse trompe l’oeil” combine installation, painting, photography, and even performance, as many of her works are done live and with little room for error. Mistakes made during her painting process however, often add to the overall dynamism of the piece, creating an aesthetic tension for each of her living works.
“There are so many things going on at once in my process that something is always bound to go wrong,” Meade recently told Colossal. “Having to problem solve in the moment and hack together a solution will typically result in me bringing something new and fresh to the painting that I didn’t intend or expect. The artwork often turns out so much better than I had originally envisioned.”
Often these errors are due to the fact that Meade is creating her works on live models, and unlike swathes of canvas, her medium has interests, personalities, and needs which influence the work. “If you are a painter painting on canvas you don’t have to care about its feelings or emotions,” said Meade, “the canvas doesn’t have to go to the bathroom.”
Meade didn’t always start out as an artist, in fact she studied politics and worked in Washington D.C. before experimenting with her current practice. “I discovered my method completely by accident,” said Meade. “Then I had to actually teach myself out to paint.” Now Meade is a represented artist in three countries and is often asked to do live painting performances, such as this month during FORM Arcosanti, an outdoor micro arts and music festival which we attended with WeTransfer and came across Meade’s work. You can see more of her process and images on her Facebook and Instagram.
Samuel Jaffe is getting close and personal with subject matter found right in our backyards— the furry, florescent, grubby little creatures we often find inching along our trees and sidewalks. Jaffe is fascinated by local environments, and aims to share the information he has collected about these backyard ecosystems so we can become more in tune with what’s right below our feet or hiding in the grass.
Jaffe has cataloged dozens of caterpillars in different settings, each with a blackened background to highlight their unique textures, colors, and patterns. Caterpillars dangle off branches, clutch onto leaves, and even play on grapevines within his photographs. Catching his subjects at specific moments, Jaffe gives each a little pop of personality, showcasing their playfulness when left alone in nature.
Jaffe grew up in Eastern Massachusetts, inserting himself within his surroundings, wading through ponds, and exploring the wildlife around him. Over the last five years he began to raise and photograph many of the more interesting native caterpillars. The project has grown to include exhibits, shows, talks, and finally in 2013 the Caterpillar Lab, a passionate program showcasing the diversity of northeastern caterpillars through educational programs, the arts, and sciences. Jaffe’s work is currently on display at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio in the exhibit “Life on the Leaf Edge.” Prints are available in his online shop. (via The Life Neurotic with Steve’s Issues)
Australian skateboarder Oliver Percovich created the non-profit Skateistan in 2007, a grassroots project that connects youth and education through skateboarding in Afghanistan. The organization, which has since grown to an award-winning international NGO, caught the attention of London-based photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson and inspired her to visit the program in Kabul in 2012—especially after learning 45% of the students were female.
In Afghanistan skateboarding has spread to become the number one sport for women, as they are forbidden to ride bicycles. Soon after arriving and entering the girl’s world, Fulford-Dobson was accepted by the young Afghan skateboarders. She photographed the girls with natural light, helping to expose their personalities through simple portraits. Within the images you can see the girls’ natural confidence, images that capture the subjects both posed and candidly skating through the indoor facility.
“I met so many impressive women and girls in Afghanistan: a teacher as tough and determined as any man; young Afghans in their early twenties who were volunteering at an orphanage and were passionate about being seen as strong and willing to fight for themselves, rather than as victims of circumstance; and girls who were being educated to be leaders in their communities and who were already thinking carefully about their own and their country’s future,” said Fulford-Dobson.
Fulford-Dobson won 2nd prize in the 2014 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize with Skate Girl, 2014 (one of the photographs taken while on location in Kabul) and her exhibition Jessica Fulford-Dobson: Skate Girls of Kabul opens at Saatchi Gallery in London on April 15 and runs until April 28, 2015. You can donate to Skateistan’s program in Kabul as well as other cities here. (via feature shoot)
Although many have been considered an artist’s muse, none have served as repeatedly as the common feline. Often basking directly beside our world’s famous artists, cats have consistently served as creative companion and confidant. New from Chronicle Books is Artists and Their Cats, a collection of intimate portraits featuring many of the past century’s most recognizable artists and their feline counterparts.
Editor Alison Nastasi writes in the book’s introduction, “Many artists buck notions of a stereotypical temperament, but researchers have long speculated that creative individuals share common attributes—which mirror those of cats.” More than 50 pairs are highlighted throughout the book—cats perched on laps, desks, and even atop heads. Included in the cat compendium is everyone from Basquiat to Matisse with images of Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe in-between. Salvador Dali himself graces the cover with cane and noted Colombian ocelot Babou. Artists and Their Cats is now available in the Colossal Shop.