Using just his hands, Tokyo-based artist Naoki Onogawa folds scores of origami cranes with wingspans that never top a single centimeter. He then fastens the minuscule birds to asymmetric tree forms, creating bonsai-like sculptures engulfed by hundreds of the monochromatic paper creatures.
Onogawa tells Colossal that he began crafting the tiny birds following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake that devastated parts of southern Hokkaido and Tohoku, which the artist visited the next year. As he walked around the city of Rikuzen Takata, he spotted 1,000 paper cranes at the site of a school demolished by the tsunami. “I found myself in terror of how powerless we humans are in the face of nature’s wonder; yet at the same time, I felt empowered by the power of life, vitality, that shined so brightly in the aftermath of its wrath,” Onogawa says. He explains further:
It was like witnessing the result of a desolate ritual where people channeled their unsettled feelings into these cranes. And here they exist, spirited with prayers that they would go back and forward to and from a world beyond here. I struggle to find the words to describe it, but I think that maybe the cranes that I fold now come from that place of solemn prayer.
Onogawa’s cranes are on view at the Setouchi City Museum of Art alongside Motoi Yamamoto’s sprawling salt installation through May 5. Browse available artworks on Picaresque, and explore a larger collection of his pieces on Instagram. (via designboom)
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A celebration of contemporary paper art, a new book gathers a wide-ranging collection of collages, quilled portraits, and intricately cut landscapes from 24 artists and studios around the globe. Published by Gingko Press, Paperists: Infinite Possibilities in Paper Art spans 256 pages that explore the unexpected ways the medium is used today and features work from a slew of artists featured on Colossal, including Estudio Guardabosques (previously), Makerie Studio (previously), Yulia Brodskaya (previously), and Zim & Zou (previously), to name a few. Grab a copy of the forthcoming volume on Bookshop.
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Artist Alexandra Kehayoglou (previously) creates exquisite pieces of flowing textiles that reference the rugged landscapes of her homeland, Argentina. In the creation of each tapestry, Kehayoglou transforms surplus carpet fabric into natural elements that range from a spectrum of Earth-colored mosses to clusters of trees and serpentine rivers that cut through the heart of her weaves. Entwined within each piece are fragments of the artist’s own memories, including witnessing waterways slowly recede and the alterations to Argentina’s grasslands.
Her latest works, a series called Prayer Rugs, depict animal footprints and small vegetative features of the Parana Wetlands located 50 kilometers from Buenos Aires. In recent years, the region’s biodiversity has been decimated by the wood and paper industries, which have facilitated the growth of non-native plant species that have since spread out of control. Additionally, human-made fires wreaked havoc during 2020, while livestock simultaneously trampled the once-luscious grassland.
Kehayoglou’s pieces document the foliage that has survived after years of this widespread exploitation and how, over time, local fauna has started to reappear: thistles grow through cracks in the dry Earth, deer leave mud-splattered tracks, and chirping insects dance upon youthful leaves. The artworks narrate the wetland’s change and growth, reflecting the pain caused by capitalism while turning the need for change into tapestries that reference Argentinians’ hope. Kehayoglou says:
Isolation made me think of my carpets as spaces where new forms of activism could be enacted. A type of activism that instead of focusing on paranoid conflict was silent, absorptive and, as I believe, more effective. My carpets, thus, became instruments for documenting ‘minor’ aspects of the land, which were otherwise overlooked as irrelevant. A focus on its micro-narratives that would open new doors for possible ecological futures.
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In “XXXX Swatchbook,” Evelin Kasikov (previously) explores all of the variables of CMYK printing without a single drop of ink. She catalogs primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, two-dozen combinations showing how rotation affects the final pigment, and a full spectrum of rich gradients. In total, the printing-focused book is comprised of four base tones, 16 elements, and 400 swatches of color entirely hand-embroidered in 219,647 stitches.
The original idea came from Kasikov’s desire for a reference tool, one similar to loose sheets of Pantone swatches, that she could share with potential book design clients interested in CMYK embroidery. During the next six years, though, the project evolved into the uniquely comprehensive artist book it is now.
“XXXX Swatchbook” features three-dimensional color studies in the style of precisely arranged halftone dots employed in four-color printing. “I use cross-stitch technique to replicate this. It’s a very simple idea,” Kasikov says. “I prepare the image in InDesign or Illustrator, then pierce the design onto paper and stitch with CMYK colored threads. Of course, my ‘print resolution’ is very low, about 3-4 lines per inch compared to 300 in print.”
Stitched with varying thickness, the swatches use conventional screen angles—cyan 105˚, magenta 75˚, yellow 90˚, and black 45˚—to produce a wide range of colors and gradients, all of which you can view on the artist’s blog. Each French-folded page features geometric patches of thread, alongside hand-written details about the CMYK values shown. The spine of the book also reveals a vibrant gradient spanning magenta to cyan.
“XXXX Swatchbook” is founded on Kasikov’s earlier “CMYK Embroidery,” a project that grew out of her MA studies at Central Saint Martins and was influenced by her background in advertising. Merging the two into the broader project of graphic stitching grew organically and offered an outlet to create a piece that was the artist says was “valuable, timeless, and trend-less,” in comparison to the more transitory projects of commercial work. “When you add tactile qualities to graphic design, it changes perspective. The structure of color can be touched. The printed image becomes three-dimensional. A flat page comes to life so to speak,” she writes.
Kasikov splits her time between Tallinn and London, where she’s working on a project called Small Hours. Centered around a theme of silence, the collection features still-life photographs with freehand dots stitched on top in a pointillist style. Follow the ongoing project and find a larger archive of Kasikov’s book designs and embroidered works on her site and Instagram. You also might enjoy Tauba Auerbach’s RGB colorspace atlas. (via Present & Correct)
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Interview: Ýr Jóhannsdóttir Explains Her Playful Approach to Design and How Mending Will Shape the Future of Sustainable Fashion
The latest interview supported by Colossal Members dives into the story behind the playful, quirky knits of Ýr Jóhannsdóttir. Working under the name Ýrúrarí, the Iceland-based designer received considerable attention last year for her cheeky, slightly grotesque masks, a collection that exemplifies both her aesthetics and dedication to bringing others into her process.
Knit your own sweater, and you are going to care more about it than if you buy one of 1,000. That’s the idea. I want to make things that people respect rather than just making some product. It’s all coming together. That’s one of the solutions of slow fashion is getting people to mend their things also and have respect for what they buy.
In this conversation, managing editor Grace Ebert speaks with Jóhannsdóttir about her lighthearted, interactive approach to wearable art, her commitment to making design accessible, and how she envisions a more holistic future for sustainable fashion.
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A moth-human hybrid, striped coral, and a smoking frog sporting a tracksuit inhabit Cat Johnston’s fantastical ecosystem crafted from paper, textiles, and sculpy or epoxy clay. The playfully bizarre creatures are inspired by monsters, mythology, and folklore, evoking deities and magnifying the strange qualities of plants and animals. Johnston created many of the lifeforms shown here shortly after moving to San Francisco and exploring the environment. “I was blown away by all the strange and lovely cacti and succulents and the animals I saw there (hummingbirds and pelicans and raccoons!) and wanted to create a landscape of plants and creatures that felt as alien and magical as California did to me,” she says.
Currently living and working in Portland, the illustrator and model maker first worked with paper for a stop-motion animation she did with Andersen M and Tundra studios and has been creating with the material since. She’s in the process of crafting two more characters, which she’ll be sharing soon on Instagram. You also might enjoy Roberto Benavidez’s piñatas and the felt storybook creatures by Cat Rabbit.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.