An Enormous Red Sun Will Shine Above the Streets of New York in Thanksgiving Parade Balloon by Yayoi Kusama
If you haven’t had a chance to experience a Yayoi Kusama piece in person, the iconic Japanese artist will be debuting a sun-themed balloon in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kusama (previously), whose wide-ranging work across a long career includes her wildly popular infinity rooms and large-scale polka dotted objects, has designed “Love Flies Up to the Sky” to be floated along the streets of Manhattan. The red balloon, hand-painted with white and yellow dots and a blue face, joins “more than 1,500 dancers and cheerleaders, close to 1,000 clowns, almost 30 parade floats, and a dozen marching bands,” according to NYCTourist.com. Kusama is the first female artist to be commissioned by the parade to create a ballon as part of their Blue Sky Gallery program, joining a roster that has included KAWS, Jeff Koons, Tim Burton, and FriendsWithYou, among others. (via Hyperallergic)
Update: The Kusama balloon was grounded because of weather.
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2020, with its pleasing, almost futuristic symmetry, marks a timeframe to which many visioning plans drafted in the past 20 years were tied. This coming year will show whether the cultural, sustainability, and diversity plans from cities, companies, and organizations around the world will be achieved on schedule. One institution has recently declared a 2020 plan that’s a bold step toward equity and inclusion in the canon-making field of art museum collecting.
The Baltimore Museum of Art announced that in the coming year, all new acquisitions will be works by female-identifying artists. Shown here are several new acquisitions, many of which will be on display in 2020; all 22 exhibitions planned for the coming year are centered on female artists.
According to a statement from the Museum, the BMA is “working to shift the scales within its collections, acknowledging that women artists are still underrepresented in the museum field and within museum collections. We hope this will serve as a model and a first step towards better representation within our field.”
Of the 95,000 works in the BMA’s permanent collection of 19th-century, modern, and contemporary art, only 3,800 were created by women. Accounting for multiple pieces by the same artist, the number of female artists represented tallies 1,500.
“You don’t just purchase one painting by a female artist of color and hang it on the wall next to a painting by Mark Rothko. To rectify centuries of imbalance, you have to do something radical,” Museum director Christopher Bedford said in an interview with the Baltimore Sun.
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London-based photographer Tim Flach travels the world capturing the nuanced expressions, unique patterning, and unusual profiles of animals large and small. Often focusing his lens on endangered and vulnerable species, Flach highlights the traits of animals that are at risk of disappearing due to habitat loss, climate change, and human activity. The photographer has worked with a huge range of wild, domestic, and captive animals, from Saiga and Beluga Sturgeons to Pied Tamarin and Pangolin.
Set on plain backdrops à la studio portraits, Flach’s bird photographs particularly stand out. His sharp, clear portraits show the colorful and wildly shaped feathers and beak of birds from the U.S. to the Himalayas. A stately Jacobian Pigeon, its two-toned ruff of feathers framing a white-crested face, seems to peer elegantly at the view, while an assertive cardinal stares pointedly, a white highlight glinting off the hook in the bird’s red beak. A statement on his website explains the relatable emotional quality of his work:
Tim Flach is an animal photographer with an interest in the way humans shape animals and shape their meaning while exploring the role of imagery in fostering an emotional connection. Bringing to life the complexity of the animal kingdom, his work ranges widely across species, united by a distinctive stylization reflecting an interest in how we better connect people to the natural world.
Flach has published several books of his photography: one is centered around endangered animals, while others are species-specific, celebrating horses or dogs. You can explore the artist’s catalog as well as several galleries of animal portraits on his website, and follow him on Instagram for first glimpses of new work.
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Washington-based artist and researcher Heidi Gustafson forages, processes, and catalogs natural mineral samples for the Early Futures Ocher Archive. Ranging in color based on its elemental structure, ochre is crushed into a powder and used in various applications from art to medicine. With over 550 samples, Gustafson’s ever-growing archive has become a collaborative project with contributions from archaeologists, scientists, and creatives from around the world.
As each sample enters the collection, it is labeled with a corresponding number. In a notebook, Gustafson records where the ochre is from, who sourced or collected it, any historic or contemporary uses, and other relevant information. Gustafson grinds the iron-rich ochre into pigments, which she sells to artists and also uses for her own work. Processed samples are added to glass vials and organized by region or dominate mineral type. Gustafson also considers the material for its artistic, spiritual, and scientific properties. “More importantly, I build a relationship to the materials,” she tells Colossal. “I’m trying to understand their unique behaviors, the microbial communities they host and support, their tonal ranges, their historical uses and many other diverse features.”
The archive was officially formed in 2017 when Gustafson relocated to the Pacific Northwest, but working with the material is more than a hobby or intellectual pursuit—it is a calling. After having a dream about ochre, she initially wrote it off. Other experiences and anxieties about climate change inspired her to research exactly what ochre was and what it was used for. “I realized that ochre and pigments were at the heart of art and aesthetic experience,” Gustafson tells Colossal, adding that the mineral has been linked to complex mental processing in modern homo sapiens. “Protecting ochre’s vast capacities and impact on human creativity, feels like Earth’s mandate to me,” Gustafson continued. “I didn’t ‘come up’ with the idea for this project, it came to me and I felt responsible to do my best to understand and listen to that call.”
To tag along on foraging trips and for updates on the archive, follow Heidi Gustafson on Instagram. To shop for pigment sets and other products from the project or to contribute samples of your own, visit the Early Futures website.
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Photographer Emily Paxton and artist Pam Glew of PaxtonGlew have curated an exhibition of tiny houses, stores, and train cars that is unlike your typical model village. Instead of pristine new buildings, each model is hand-painted with graffiti and colorful murals. Together the miniatures form a well-worn city from the collective imagination of over 40 urban contemporary artists from around the world.
Titled Urban Miniatures, the pop-up opened on November 23, 2019 as a part of the Artists Open Houses Christmas Festival in Brighton, England. The roster of artists tapped to contribute include train-writers, muralists, designers, and painters, most of whom typically work at a much larger scale. From an optical illusion mural painted on a mini hotel by Peeta (previously), to architectural jewelry by Tiny Scenic, the scale of each piece in the exhibition forces the viewer to look more closely and appreciate the details. That level of intimacy is not always possible when a piece is ten stories tall or speeding down a track.
For those able to visit Brighton, Urban Miniatures is scheduled to run through December 22, 2019. The curators are also offering miniature-themed workshops for those who visit the gallery space. Limited edition prints, models, and other art gifts are also available via their online store. For more information, follow @paxtonglew on Instagram.
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Beadwork artist Myrlande Constant has spent nearly three decades honing the craft of her intricate flag tableaux. Often spanning six or seven feet, the large-scale flags feature religious, historical, and mythological scenes, surrounded by a beaded “frame” of abstract patterns or symbolic objects. Constant hails from from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she continues to live and work. The artist learned the art form her mother, who was a factory worker at a local wedding dress manufacturer that created beaded garments. Apparently, several other women who were employed at the factory also created artwork in the Vodou flag tradition outside of work hours.
Constant was recently commissioned to create a new work, one of her largest to date, for Faena Hotel in Miami, Florida. It will be displayed, along with several of her other flags, during Faena Festival, a free series of events and installation running December 2 – 8, 2019, alongside Miami Art Week. Learn more about Constant’s work in a Huffington Post article by Wesleyan University.
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Icy + Sot (previously) have worked since their youth drawing attention to social justice issues in their artwork both on the streets and in fine art galleries. Through their multi-disciplinary practice, the Iranian-born brothers explore issues of censorship, refugee crises, and economic inequality. We recently visited Icy + Sot in their Queens, NY studio to learn more about their artistic practice as well as the personal experiences that inspire their prolific output. This exclusive conversation is part of our new Interview series, available to Colossal Members. Learn more and join here.
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.