Dreamlike Sculptures by Christina Bothwell Meld Ceramic, Glass, and Oil Paint into Otherworldly Figures
From her Pennsylvania studio, Christina Bothwell (previously) sculpts surreal hybrid creatures and figures that occupy the unearthly space between dreams and wakefulness. She works with a combination of annealed glass, pit-fired ceramics, oil paint, and small mosaic tiles, which each correspond to a conceptual element. “I always come back to the idea that the physical part of us is just a small part of who we are in our entirety,” the artist tells Colossal. “The translucent parts of my pieces are meant to suggest the soul or that part of us that is more than just our bodies. The ceramic portions of my pieces represent our grounded, tangible parts.”
In her most recent body of work, Bothwell continues her explorations into the liminal and states of flux: a slumbering child appears to float from its sleeping counterpart in “Lucid Dream,” while another lies upside down in “Mood Swing.” Many of the sculptures are tinged with themes of magic, imagination, and escapism, which are reflected in the ways that human bodies meld with birds, monkeys, octopuses, and deer. She explains:
I was a sensitive child with eccentric parents who didn’t fit in. I didn’t even fit in with my family a lot of the time. It was like I was a changeling or an alien they were forced to live with. I felt like an outsider for most of my life, and it always felt precarious, unsafe, being who I was. For this reason, I think I identify with deer… despite their beauty and grace, they are not protected or valued (at least not where I live), and their vulnerability and innocence resonates with something deep within me.
Bothwell’s fantastical works will be on view at Habatat Gallery and Muskegon Museum of Art as part of the upcoming Beyond the Glass Ceiling, Influential Women in Glass exhibition and again this summer at Tory Folliard Gallery in Milwaukee. Until then, explore more of her sculptures on Instagram.
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An innovative creation of Cornwall-based Green&Blue, Bee Bricks are designed to establish homes within homes. The architectural building blocks can be layered with more typical materials and feature holes of various sizes that allow the fuzzy, winged insects a space for nesting. These multi-purpose bricks are especially crucial as bee populations dwindle due to habitat loss and a changing climate.
Burrowing inches into the blocks made of reclaimed concrete, the narrow openings are targeted at red masons, leafcutters, and other cavity-nesters that live outside of colonies. It’s estimated that the U.K. alone boasts 250 solitary species, which tend to be better pollinators than their social counterparts because they gather the sticky substance from multiple sources, which improves biodiversity.
Bee Bricks have made headlines in recent days after the city of Brighton and Hove announced that all new buildings more than five-meters-tall have to include some form of housing for the solitary creatures. The council’s move follows similar policies in Dorset and Cornwall, in addition to guidelines that establish homes for swifts in new buildings, as well.
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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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