Since 2010, Brazilian origami artist Jo Nakashima has amassed a trove of original designs ranging from modular cubes and kinetic works to multicolor, angular wildlife. His creations require just a single sheet of double-sided paper and a deft hand and vary in complexity: Nakashima marks the eagle with pleated wings, quacking duck, and writhing snake shown here as intermediate or above. Head to YouTube for detailed instructions on folding your own versions of his intricate designs, but take note of his warning: “Although I call it ‘simplified,’ it doesn’t mean it is simple: it is just simpler than the original version, but actually it is still a bit complex.”
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Books have beguiled us since they first emerged in the form of ancient scrolls and codices around the world. The way we access, utilize, and enjoy reading material has seen technological transformation over the centuries, from Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in the 15th century, to the first dictionary produced in 1532, to the advent of affordable pocket paperbacks in the early 20th century. Paper tomes have had an immeasurable impact on society and our ability to relay knowledge, and even in an age of digital e-readers, the physical volume still embodies an appeal as timeless as literature itself. In a new exhibition in London, the world of reading provides a starting point for the seven artists to explore a wide range of themes and materials, highlighting our perennial fascination with the printed and bound medium.
Cheri Smith, Russell Webb, Guy Laramée (previously), Aron Wiesenfeld, Guillermo Martin Bermejo, El Gato Chimney, and Claire Partington (previously) work across a wide range of styles including sculpture, illustration, painting, and printmaking. In Bookworks, Laramée’s deconstructed reference volumes are transformed into miniature topographical landscapes that challenge our sense of scale. Cheri Smith’s paintings, sometimes painted onto book covers, reference the eccentricity of animals and how they are categorized in natural history catalogues. El Gato Chimney constructs elaborate narrative illustrations in accordion-style publications that follow an eccentric band of characters as they confront giant creatures.
Bookworks is on view at James Freeman Gallery through June 4.
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Six Years In the Making, the Elaborate 'Grand Jardin' by Lisa Nilsson Pushes the Boundaries of Paper
Lisa Nilsson (previously) has spent years perfecting a technique known as quilling in which thin strips of paper are rolled into coils and then pinched and nudged into shape in a process she likens to completing a puzzle. With a history thought to extend back to Ancient Egypt, the practice rose to more recent popularity in 18th century Europe. Narrow edges of gilt book pages were a popular material, creating metallic surfaces when rolled into place. In her most recent work, “Grand Jardin,” Nilsson has expanded upon this traditional method by building up more dense applications of the medium and assembling on a much bigger scale. Combining shimmering gold pieces with vivid hues of Japanese mulberry paper across the surface, the ubiquitous material transforms into a remarkable topography.
Taking several years to complete, she paid painstaking attention to the complexities and details of the design, balancing intricate organic shapes with precise geometric patterns, all while preserving the composition’s overall symmetry. “The phases of my creative process—as it progressed from the initial spark of inspiration to settling in to work, to decision-making and problem solving, to finding flow, losing flow and finding it again, to commitment and renewal of commitment—were repeated many times over the six years and within the context of widely varying moods,” she tells Colossal.
Brimming with floral motifs and butterflies and contained within an ornate border, the lush details of “Grand Jardin” emerge in the textures of each group of coils and in the intricate shapes of the flowers and foliage. Inspired by the patterns and process of making Persian rugs, Nilsson sees parallels between weaving and quilling, and is amused by the nature of improvisation in a process that is so slow-moving and meticulous. “Having a working relationship with one piece for such a long period of time brought novel thoughts and emotions and required new things of me as an artist and as a person,” she says.
You can find more information on Nilsson’s website.
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A new report released this week by an Australian agency says that the 1,400-mile Great Barrier Reef has undergone its sixth mass bleaching. About 91 percent of the brightly colored marine ecosystems were affected by this most recent catastrophe, which occurs when water temperatures rise. Disasters like this are becoming more frequent as the climate crisis intensifies, prompting artists like Christine and Margaret Wertheim to respond with striking displays of what could be permanently lost.
The Australia-born, California-based sisters began the Crochet Coral Reef project in 2005 to confront the devastations of bleaching, over–fishing, tourism, and agricultural contaminations through sprawling, labor-intensive environments. More than 40,000 of the oceanic works are now on view at the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden, transforming the gallery into textured ecosystems resting atop pillars and protected in glass cases. The Wertheims explain the project:
Like the organic beings they emulate, these handmade sculptures take time to make—time that is condensed in the millions of stitches on display; time that is running out for earthly creatures, including humans and cnidarians. Time forms a framework for the Reef project, for as CO2 escalates in our atmosphere time is increasingly in short supply, and what we choose to spend time on is a reflection of our values.
Part of the intention for Crochet Coral Reef is to involve local communities, and so far, almost 20,000 people have contributed their own fiber-based forms, with about 5,000 participating in the show in Baden-Baden alone. Since debuting at the 2019 Venice Biennale, the exhibition has traveled to more than 20 spaces from London and Dublin to Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., and will be on view at the Museum Frieder Burda until June 26. A complimentary satellite project is also up at the Tang Teaching Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York, through June 12.
Visit the Crochet Coral Reef site for more information on getting involved in the project and for chances to see the textile organisms in person. You also might enjoy Mulyana’s yarn ecosystems. (via artnet)
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Oxford-based artist Tach Pollard (previously) allows the sinuous shapes of hawthorn or oak branches to guide the forms of his fantastical figures. The lanky creatures stand on long limbs with hunched shoulders and bowed backs, features determined by the original curve of the wood. Based on legends like the Norse Eddas, The Mabinogion, and the Icelandic Sagas, the sculptures are mysterious and minimal—Pollard tends to leave the natural color and grain of the material intact for their faces and burns the remainder to obtain the deep, black char that envelops their figures. You can shop available pieces on Etsy, and follow the artist on Instagram to stay up-to-date on future releases.
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Like many Korean families, artist Ema Shin’s relatives maintain a genealogy book called a jokbo, which illustrates their family tree. Shin’s ancestral record spans 32 generations, yet only male members of the family are represented. Born and raised in Japan, and currently based in Melbourne, Australia, the artist describes in a recent statement that “in the society that I was born and raised in, there was a prejudice between men and women, and their roles were predetermined. I always felt uncomfortable with this inequality.” In her series Hearts of Absent Women, she celebrates and recognizes women whose achievements remain obscured by history.
Heart-shaped forms made from fabric are elaborately embellished with colorful threads and beads in an homage to the organ’s connection with emotion and vitality. They are nearly life-size, and the range of woven and stitched textures are captivatingly tactile. Both anatomical and fanciful, the arteries, veins, and ventricles become distinctive expressions in needlework that reflect strength, resilience, and individuality. Since becoming a mother herself, Shin has been particularly interested in honoring women’s lives and bodies, recognizing the anonymous contributions of those in her family and around the world and acknowledging their stories for the future.
Some of Shin’s work can be seen at the Victoria Craft Awards 2021 exhibition through May 21. She has limited-edition prints from the series for sale on her website, and you can also follow her on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.