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In vanessa german’s New Exhibition, Freedom, Value, and Time Coalesce Through Elaborate Assemblages

October 20, 2022

Gabrielle Lawrence

vanessa german knows how to translate experiences. In her latest project with the Skinner Museum—Mount Holyoke's early 20th-century cabinet of curiosities—she explores what decolonization means by interacting with the institution's 7,000 precious historical objects. german finds past, present, and future in everything from Native American baskets to Samurai swords to pieces of the Great Pyramid of Giza. By touching these great American valuables, the artist explores ideas of rarity and protection…

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Art

Jewelry Boxes Encase Curtis Talwst Santiago’s Elaborately Constructed Narratives of Nostalgia and Identity

April 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Within the confines of a tiny jewelry box, Canadian-Trinidadian artist Curtis Talwst Santiago (previously) nestles miniature scenes imbued with in-depth narratives of home and intimacy, diasporic identity, and memory. The elaborately built dioramas are part of Santiago's ongoing Infinity Series, which he began in 2008 and has since expanded to include dozens of pieces replete with lush foliage, architectural features, and minuscule…

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Art

Through Mystical MixedMedia Narratives, Artist Rithika Merchant Explores Intrinsic Connection

November 9, 2022

Grace Ebert

"I’m drawn to works that are rich in symbolism and also have a strong element of storytelling," says Rithika Merchant. "I love seeing the artist's hand in the work—I have a huge appreciation for small details and works that draw from a multitude of references—literary, mythical, and visual." The Mumbai-born artist manifests these same qualities in her practice, creating works that expertly translate concepts and themes through her own idiosyncratic allusions. Beginning with hours…

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Art

Vintage Baubles and Foliage Encircle the Enchanting Glass Dioramas of Artist Amber Cowan

September 23, 2022

Grace Ebert

In her solo show Gathering the Sky, Mining the Milk, Amber Cowan emphasizes the legacy of color. Through intricately layered dioramas of pressed glass, the Philadelphia-based artist explores the histories of lavender, jade, and opaque white. Her assemblages meld custom and found pieces sourced from primarily defunct factories in the United States, many of which produced a specific palette of colors like the sky blue of "Ecco to the Bridesmaid:…

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Art Illustration

Subversively Elegant Portraits of Indigenous People Drawn on Repurposed Ledgers by Artist Chris Pappan

November 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

In his mixed-media portraits, Chicago-based artist Chris Pappan draws on the tradition of ledger art, a practice that flourished among Native populations throughout the Great Plains from around 1850 to 1920. Rooted in narratives, the renderings depicted the ways of life of Indigenous people and the nuances otherwise left out of mainstream conversations. "The mid-19th Century was a tumultuous time for the Indigenous peoples of America; the doctrine of Manifest Destiny brought deep pain and suffering but it…

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Art

Eerie Shelters in Miniature Tower Over a Post-Apocalyptic Universe by Simon Laveuve

April 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

Tagged with graffiti and pockmarked with decay, the ramshackle structures by Simon Laveuve envision a disquieting safe haven in a post-apocalyptic world. The Paris-based artist (previously) creates miniature shelters on wooden support beams or atop grassy hills that soar high into the air, appearing to offer refuge from below. Constructed as assemblages of worn materials, vintage signs with peeling paint, and a stockpile of everyday objects, the mixed-media sculptures imagine a landscape where only…

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Sailing Ship Kite