Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu was commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to create four bronze sculptures of African women collectively titled “The NewOnes, will free Us.” The seated women are nearly 7 feet tall and each weigh more than 840 lbs. The sculptures are the first works of art to fill the niches of the museum’s Fifth Avenue facade since the building’s completion in 1902.
Mutu’s sculptures, individually titled The Seated I, II, III, and IV, are dressed in coiled garments and feature polished discs on different parts of their heads. This ornamentation references the jewelry and lip plates worn by women in some African tribes. They also reference the West African and Greek tradition of caryatids, female figures carved out of wood or marble that were depicted as structural or metaphorical supports.
“Caryatids throughout history have carried these buildings to express the might and the wealth of a particular place,” the Nairobi-born artist said in a video interview on The Met’s website. Looking to use her sculptures as a way to stage what The Met calls a “feminist intervention,” Mutu added that she wanted to “keep the DNA of the woman in an active pose, but I didn’t want her to carry the weight of something or someone else.”
Share this story
Textile artist Amanda Browder collaborates with the communities she’s working in to built site-specific architectural interventions. Using hundreds of yards of donated fabric with bright colors and patterns, Browder and her volunteer teams stitch together enormous panels that resemble crazy quilts. The panels wrap around bell towers, sheath elevated walkways, and drape from gables and eaves to give passersby a new experience of familiar buildings. In a statement on her website, Browder describes her work:
A state of betweenness – ‘twixt soft sculpture /’tween orchestrated public object installation with a studio affinity for abstraction and minimalism”. I am in love with the transformative nature of materials, and how the combination of the familiar creates abstract relationships about place. This relational objectivity generates an open-ended narrative, ambiguous situations defined by the choice of materials and work ethic. Central to the psychedelic experience, I am drawn to reinventing Pop-Art colors by exploring shifts in scale and sculptural perceptions.
The Montana-born artist received a B.A. in studio arts as well as two master’s degrees in sculpture and installation art. Browder is now based in Brooklyn and frequently travels to create new work. She was recently awarded an opportunity with the prestigious ArtPrize organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The multi-part work, titled Kaleidoscopic, is currently on view at locations around Grand Rapids. Keep up with Browder’s projects on Instagram, and watch the video below for a time-lapse of a previous installation in Las Vegas and an interview with the artist.
Share this story
Olivia Walker Balances Minimalism and Tactile Textures in Ceramics Showcased on her Squarespace Portfolio Site
Olivia Walker (previously) creates highly tactile unglazed ceramic vessels using a unique layering technique that edges her pieces with organic ridged “growths”. The U.K.-based artist fell in love with ceramics by chance: after completing her undergraduate degree she took a summer job at a craft gallery. Immediately drawn to the ceramics at the shop, Walker enrolled in an evening course and ultimately completed a master’s degree in Contemporary Ceramics. These days, with her summer job far behind her, Walker’s work is exhibited in galleries around the world. Her ceramics have been shown in Melbourne Design Week at the National Gallery of Victoria and at Hauser & Wirth’s opening of a new contemporary craft space. In 2018, she also traveled to Denmark as an artist in residence at the Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Centre.
Walker’s aesthetic, which balances refinement with physicality, pairs perfectly with Squarespace’s clean, minimal templates. “All of my pieces start by being thrown on the wheel, before being built-upon with thousands of individually-applied fragments of porcelain, that work together to create an organic texture that eats into or grows over the original form,” Walker explains. She uses only natural porcelain with hand-mixed oxides for color to highlight the nuanced details of each piece’s textural exterior. “The minimal palette and simplicity that I aim for in my work has been easy to echo in my website through using the Squarespace platform,” says Walker. “I was looking to create a simple and clean website that showcased my work and background, and in particular that displayed my photographs in a visually impactful way.”
It is a great time to be working in the contemporary craft world, according to Walker. “There are so many opportunities for makers and a renewed interest in craft from the general public. Working with natural materials is inherently human and in the digital world we live in these materials provide something tactile and physical for people to connect to, whether that be through making, collecting or following the journey of different craftspeople.” By prominently featuring social links and a newsletter sign-up on her Squarespace site, Walker keeps a seamless flow between all her marketing outlets to allow curators, art appreciators, and collectors to find her work wherever they prefer.
If you’ve been looking for the perfect match for your creative identity, try Squarespace free for one week. When you’re ready to launch your art practice, brand, or business, use code COLOSSAL to save 10% on a website or domain name.
This post was sponsored by Squarespace.
Share this story
Graffiti artist Vile leaves his mark on the walls of occupied and abandoned buildings around Europe, using masterful techniques to create the illusion of depth in his painted interventions. The Portuguese artist has simulated letter-shaped gaps in crumbling bricks, galaxies pulsating behind concrete walls, and even entire imagined buildings. Vile, who lives in his hometown of Vila Franca de Xira, started writing graffiti at the age of 14, and studied cartooning and animation for films as well as drawing and illustration. Follow Vile’s illusory exploits on Instagram. (via Laughing Squid)
Share this story
Continuously evolving his style from early surreal comic-like renderings, to subdued portraits, all the way to abstract assemblages, Catalan artist Aryz has built his reputation as a multi-talented muralist. More recently, Aryz has reduced the quantity of new mural projects and has focused his imagery on figurative compositions built from seamlessly integrated elements.
Often leaving the brushwork as visible as possible and mixing vibrant, sometimes clashing colors, he is now fully focused on creating work that aims to translate the unmediated feel of sketching into large-scale murals. “I think, with time, you need to get rid of the technique and at the end go to the basic and go to the essence of the composition of the colors,” Aryz shares with Colossal about his unique manner of building images. “I don’t know if I’m succeeding on that, but that’s my goal at the moment.”
One recent mural, painted earlier this summer in Angers, France, depicts a shirtless man working with a large mallet. The image is constructed from various elements taken at different moments, with loose limbs suggesting energetic action. Sourcing his inspiration from propaganda posters and classical paintings, Aryz is reinventing this imagery with his own style. “I feel comfortable with it, because I like that aesthetic, instead of maybe portraying a contemporary character with jeans and piercings,” the artist explains.
A similar concept was used for a new mural in Berlin, where he conveyed a dynamic scene of wrestlers fighting. “It’s all about painting these humans that are fighting against humans as a reflection of the nowadays society,” Aryz tells Colossal. While having the rough, almost careless aesthetic of pencil drawing on paper, this four stories-tall composition is broken up by the existing window on the building. With fists, legs, and even bones appearing unexpectedly inside the composition, and expressive brushstrokes filling up the surface, the image freezes a moment of great tension.
Aryz is showing his work in several places around France this fall, including in Rouen, France at Temple Saint-Eloi through September 22, 2019, and then through November 24, 2019, in partnership with Hangar 107. In Paris, the artist’s new work is on view starting November 8, 2019. Aryz’s final French stop is at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy, opening 14 Novembre 2019, and closing February 16, 2020. Follow along with Aryz’s whirlwind tour and see more of his fresh work on Instagram.
Share this story
Old Books Become Craggy Mountains and Waterway Channels in Otoniel Borda Garzon’s Mixed Media Sculptures
Colombian artist Otoniel Borda Garzon (previously) manipulates outdated volumes of maps, reference texts, and newspapers to form abstract sculptures. The multi-part artworks juxtapose the paper pages, carved into topographical shapes that allude to cliffs and mountains, with geometric wooden trusses and smooth, water-like glass channels. You can explore more of Garzon’s wide-ranging art projects, which often incorporate reclaimed materials, on his Behance portfolio.
Share this story
A Look Inside the 45,000-Piece Collection of Trashed Treasures Curated by Sanitation Worker Nelson Molina
If, like me, you live in New York City, you’re confronted on the daily with mounds of trash on the sidewalk. While the appliances, antique furniture, clothing, and houseplants are a passing novelty for pedestrians such as myself, for Nelson Molina, the trash was his daily focus for 34 years. The veteran New York Sanitation worker, who retired in 2015 from his East Harlem route, has collected over 45,000 items of interest, all culled from his professional immersion in what New Yorkers discard.
His curatorial efforts have been widely chronicled over the years, including a 2012 profile in The New York Times, and particularly at inflection points when the collection’s future is uncertain. A new short documentary film by director Nicholas Heller meets up with the contagiously enthusiastic Molina for a look inside his curatorial process and the present state of the collection. There is currently a fundraising effort to create a permanent home for Molina’s ‘Treasures in the Trash,’ which you can contribute to here. If you’re interested in more anthropological trash projects, check out Jenny Odell’s Bureau of Suspended Objects, an archive created out of Odell’s time as an artist in residence at a San Francisco dump.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Street Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.