Dana Powell Smith, aka 'Georgettes Granddaughter,' Is Using NFTs to Honor Her Harlem Renaissance Family Heritage
For many creators, beginning the foray into the world of NFTs is daunting. There’s the technology, which is new and complex, alongside the staggering pace of concepts. But for artists looking for innovative opportunities, it can be a great space to explore.
NFTs appeared on artist Dana Powell Smith’s radar around a year ago, when she heard the term on the Clubhouse app. “I thought this would be a great opportunity to continue my family’s art legacy through a new platform,” she says.
Smith goes by ‘Georgettes Granddaughter,’ an homage to her grandmother, Harlem Renaissance artist Georgette Seabrooke Powell. Pursuing an art practice is extremely important to Smith, as is honoring the challenges her grandmother experienced. To be able to share Georgette’s legacy, learning to navigate a new space is worth it.
“I thought about my grandmother and the struggle she faced after painting the Harlem Hospital Mural during the Harlem Renaissance,” Smith recalls. “When her mural was complete, they told her that it depicted too many Black people. She fought and fought to keep the mural as she painted it. It was restored in 2012 and now sits in the Harlem Hospital Lobby.”
Despite creating art since she was a young child, Smith only began painting publicly in 2020, after the killing of George Floyd. “I had to get all of my emotions out on canvas. It felt like a force inside of me. My art took off immediately.”
When first figuring out which NFT platform to use, Smith chose to mint her NFTs on Voice because of how easy it was to get started and understand, saying, “I have looked into many other platforms and was utterly confused.” Voice’s lack of a learning curve allowed her to hit the ground running, with sales on her NFTs beginning mere days after minting.
For fellow artists considering an entrance to the space, Smith points to the ability to reach a broader range of people and collectors. “I can show the art community in general that we don’t have to box ourselves in.”
What’s next in the continuation of Georgette’s legacy? An art scholarship fund, Smith hopes. As she pursues the technology of the future, she wants to invest in it, too, and pay a beautiful homage to the past.
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In Unseen Roots, artist Megan Aline fills silhouettes with brush, autumn foliage, and tall, skinny trees that span from torso to crown. Her solo show at Robert Lange Studio in Charleston consists of dozens of acrylic works that expose a small glimpse of a landscape hidden within each figure. “As we become increasingly disconnected from the natural world, I think the memory of nature becomes even stronger inside each of us,” the artist shares. “If you only spent weekends in the woods or summers at your grandmothers or you have a park you visit from time to time, it becomes the quiet space inside you that you can escape to even when you aren’t there.”
To render the contemplative works, Aline paints inside a stenciled silhouette on panel, which creates crisp outlines of each figure—she shares videos of this process on Instagram—and visible brushstrokes in pastel and neutral tones comprise the paintings’ backdrops. “As an artist, I spend a lot of time reflecting inwardly as I paint outwardly,” she writes. “I like the idea that we have an ‘inner landscape,’ a map created from emotions, ideas, and sensations collected throughout our lives.”
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In a cozy studio overlooking a garden in Blackwell, Missouri, artist Larysa Bernhardt creates colorful moth sculptures with a needle and thread. Her fabric creatures are embroidered with old tapestries, often portraying historical people, animals, and delicate botanical forms on their wings: one specimen with a rusty orange abdomen depicts a little bird taking flight, while another is blue with a Medieval woman looking at a flower.
Able to stand on their own or hang from the wall, the handmade moths feature eyes made from Czech glass beads and bodies of cotton velvet and Belgian linen. Bernhardt also wires their wings, enabling people to shape them into their desired position.
The artist initially began by collecting vintage textiles, including silk tapestries and wool, and was interesting in analyzing and unraveling their histories, taking an interest in how creatures, such as moths, often inhabit such materials. “I have some very old wool and silk tapestries, and I’m still trying to unravel the stories behind them,” she tells Colossal. “Those will never be cut, they’re treasures, and I’m constantly checking for moth larvae…and just like that, moths entered the chat! What I love and what I fear melded into my work, in what I believe is a magical, albeit slightly menacing way.”
In addition to the material components, the moths are inspired by travel, television shows, books, and “even phrases someone drops in the grocery line to checkout,” Bernhardt says. “I will never tire of seeing how magically creative humans are,” Bernhardt explains.
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An Annual 'Giant Letter' Installation Displays a Heartfelt Note from a 100-Foot-Tall Boy Named Bobby
Every year on December 12, a handwritten letter on oversized lined paper appears on a residential lawn in Chicago or Austin. The massive constructions, which stand between 8- and 12-feet high, are part of an ongoing project that shares heartfelt messages between an imaginary 100-foot-tall boy named Bobby and those who matter most in his life (aka his mother Lucinda, cat Mr. McFluffins, and Santa).
Chicago-based artists Caro D’Offay and Laura Gilmore began Giant Letter back in 2012 as a way to connect with their community following the tragic killings at Sandy Hook Elementary. Marj Wormald joined the pair a few years later, and together, they’ve installed 10 iterations. “We’re trying to create an atmosphere,” D’Offay said in an interview. “The person standing there can in a way feel very small but also have big emotions. It can be transformative for someone, and they’re just walking their dog.”
During its decade-long run, Giant Letter displays have included microscopes and astronomy books, huge pencils and cups of tea, and of course, chocolate chip cookies and milk. Every piece also sets a “Bobby box” nearby that encourages visitors to drop in messages they’d like to share with the child. In the most recent version installed at the intersection of Glenwood and Albion avenues in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, a 35-foot tool stretches alongside a letter from Bobby’s mother detailing her cancer diagnosis. “I know this is a much bigger tape measure than you probably need but I want you to dream big and make giant magic!” it reads.
Organizers say the 2021 installation will stay in its current spot indefinitely, although they’re hoping to transfer the project to a museum or gallery in the future. You can follow their progress on Instagram.
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Creating tangible records of weather patterns has been a long-running practice for crafters and designers interested in visually documenting the effects of the climate crisis over time. Daniera ter Haar and Christoph Brach, of the Eindhoven, The Netherlands-based studio Raw Color, join this endeavor with their new collection of knitted goods that embed data about temperature changes, the sea’s rising levels, and emissions directly within their products’ patterns.
In each design, the duo translates data from the IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, into colorful, line graphics that represent four possible outcomes for the world through the year 2100. The titular Temperature Textiles rely on warm shades, sea level uses cool blues, purples, and greens, and emissions a combination of the two to visualize the changes.
Raw Color shares more specifics about the data behind Temperature Textiles on its site, where you can also shop the collection of flat and double knits. Follow the studio on Instagram to keep up with its latest designs. (via Design Milk)
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Origami marvel Juho Könkkölä continues to amaze us with his troop of intricately folded warriors of his own design. Following an elaborately armored samurai and sword-and-shield-toting knight, the Finnish artist just released his latest work featuring two characters as they prepare for a fight. Similar to his previous pieces, Könkkölä used a single sheet of 95 x 95 centimeter Wenzhou paper with wet and dry origami techniques—watch his entire process in the timelapse below—to fold the dueling figures. The finished work, which stands 25 x 20 x 20 centimeters, took more than two years to design and 100-plus hours to complete.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.