Winged elephants, multi-eared rabbits, and carrot-legged babies ready to be dipped in hummus: recent sculptures by Debra Broz (previously) continue to expand her collection of odd mashups formed from found ceramics. By carefully sourcing, separating, and re-fusing juxtaposed components of otherwise unremarkable ceramic knick-knacks, Broz forms entirely new creatures that are equal parts bizarre and humorous. The Los Angeles-based artist tells Colossal that she finds inspiration in absurdity:
I think a lot of us are frequently telling ourselves that the world is this very serious place, and that our lives as adults require careful consideration—and to a degree that’s true—but we also need to take time to realize that the world is also wildly full of nonsense, and that aspects of our lives are incredibly ridiculous. And I think it’s completely fair for us to recognize that, and laugh about it.
Broz also sees surprise as an important element in her work. Creating the opportunity for viewers’ expectations to be upended and their planned narrative disrupted makes her small sculptures uniquely memorable. She tells Colossal that acquiring a prank wooden outhouse built by her grandfather (not life-size) that explodes when a quarter is dropped in helped her articulate the importance of the unexpected in her practice. “For me, that object—the exploding outhouse—is weirdly inspirational in the way it takes something unassuming and makes it into something that surprises or bewilders people,” Broz explains. “It’s funny how that theme is so prevalent in my sculpture, but I had never thought about it in the context of my grandpa’s exploding outhouse until recently.”
In addition to adding to her ceramic-centric body of work, Broz has been experimenting recently with stuffed animals and balloons. The malleable materials make it easier to stretch her imagination and try out new ideas. She’s also been working in multiples, creating different variations on the same animal: the two white rabbits shown here were a part of that series. “It was a really interesting process to see how many ideas I could think of to alter that one particular form. That also got me interested in the idea of how much you can change a form before it stops being what it was and becomes something else,” Broz explains.
On November 16, 2019, you can see some of Broz’s iterative rabbits at the Track 16 Gallery Anniversary Show, and will have a piece up for auction in a fundraiser supporting Monte Vista Projects, an artist space and curatorial collective of which Broz is a part. Follow along with the artist’s latest creative endeavors on Instagram.
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Discarded Ceramic Shards Are Celebrated in Multi-Part Assemblages by Conservator and Artist Bouke de Vries
Bouke de Vries works with ceramic assemblage to reinterpret historical pottery in multi-part sculptures. The Dutch artist studied at the prestigious Central St. Martin’s in London and worked in high fashion before pivoting to ceramics conservation and restoration in the early 1990’s, which he learned at West Dean College. Confronting the moral dilemmas around valuation of imperfect artifacts in his vocational practice, de Vries challenges the value of imperfection, damage, and cultural history in his exploded artworks.
Broken blue willow plates amalgamate into a map of China, a shattered turquoise vase finds a new function as the contents of a clear glass vessel, and small shards of porcelain become the thorns on a blossoming rose. In a statement on his website, the artist explains:
Instead of hiding the evidence of this most dramatic episode in the life of a ceramic object, he emphasizes their new status, instilling new virtues, new values, and moving their stories forward… Where even an almost invisible hairline crack, a tiny rim chip or a broken finger render a once-valuable object practically worthless, literally not worth the cost of restoring. There’s something incongruous about the fact that such an object, although still imbued with all the skills it took to make it – be it first-period Worcester, Kang-xi or Sevres – can so easily be consigned to the dustbin of history.
De Vries’s work has clearly struck a chord with viewers: he exhibits widely and in 2019 alone has shown work at Hillwood House in Washington, Mesher Gallery in Instanbul, The Museum of Fine Art in Montgomery, Alabama, the Kuntsi Museum in Vaasa, Finland, the Museum of Royal Worcester, and at the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale in Yingge, Taiwan. The artist is represented by galleries in The Netherlands, U.S., and U.K. Explore more of de Vries’s work and stay up-to-date on his latest exhibitions via Instagram. (via The Jealous Curator)
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Gomel, Belarus-based origami artist Arseni Kazhamiakin creates transfixing tessellations using colorful sheets of paper. The artist has been creating his own designs since 2013, and notes that he uses everyday paper “of questionable quality.” Each completed work is meticulously documented from above, and some works are illuminated from behind to show the hidden interior layers. Kazhamiakin explains that there is not much of an origami community in Gomel, and he hopes that by connecting with other folders online to build more of a local network. The artist shares his finished work on Flickr and shows more details and in-progress projects on Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
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We don’t recommend getting near Kate Jenkins’s breakfast spread before you’ve had your morning coffee, or you might find yourself biting down on a bagel full of yarn. The British crochet artist (previously) creates fiber-based foods that bear a striking resemblance to their edible inspirations. Jenkins has a particular affinity for baked goods: her recent spreads include bagels and lox, whole grain bread loaves, and individual fruit tarts. The artist creates every last detail down to tiny caper berries, thinly sliced red onions, and kiwi and poppy seeds made from black beads.
Jenkins learned to knit and crochet as a child in Wales, and shares in an artist statement that she has always been fascinated and inspired by everyday objects and experiences. In addition to her culinary crochets, Jenkins trained and worked for many years as a knitwear designer in the fashion world. Keep up with Jenkins’s freshest bakes on Instagram, and purchase artwork in her online store.
For those in NYC who love textile-based delectables, we also recommend Lucy Sparrow’s felt food “deli” pop-up at Rockefeller Center, open through October 20, 2019.
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Margaret Nazon has spent the past decade building intricate beadwork depictions of outer space. The colorful artworks, which balance representational and stylized aesthetics, are set on black fabric backgrounds and depict galaxies, planets, and nebulae. Initially inspired by images taken by the Hubble space telescope, Nazon’s celestial renderings are part of a life-long interest in beading. In an interview with Glenbow, the artist shared that she began beading at age 10, but found the density of traditional beadwork to be tedious.
The abstract nature of celestial images allows Nazon to be more interpretive and incorporate different materials like caribou bones and willow seeds, that have location-specific or cultural significance. Nazon is Tsiigehtchic, part of the Gwich’in community in what is now the Northwest Territories of Canada. The artist explained to Glenbow that because she is retired, she is able to dedicate significant portions of time to beading, and often rises at 4:30 to begin working. Nazon plans to continue experimenting, including merging her abstract beadwork with her seamstress skills to create artfully embellished apparel.
Nazon’s artwork was most recently exhibited at Glenbow in a group show, Cosmos, and A Beaded Universe at Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. You can read more about her in the Glenbow interview, and explore Nazon’s portfolio on her website. (via Brainpickings)
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Embroidery and calligraphy merge in Olga Kovalenko’s gestural stitched lettering. Evoking the style of loose, ink-splattering calligraphy, Kovalenko replicates each speck of “ink” in carefully places, minuscule stitches. The artist shares with Colossal, “the main idea in this project was to connect two arts—the fast (expressive calligraphy) and the slow one (hand embroidery). It makes you think about the deceitfulness of time.” Kovalenko studied type design at Moscow State University of Printing Arts, and pursued further calligraphy studies with Evgeniy Dobrovinsky. See more of her multi-media lettering work on Behance and Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
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A detailed structural plan, hundreds of hand-fringed feathers, a custom-built wire armature: these are just some of the components artist Niharika Rajput uses to create her life-like paper birds. Rajput directly ties her art practice to conservation efforts by running campaigns to spread awareness of endangered species around the world.
To create her intricate sculptures, Rajput studies the anatomy of each bird, from its wing and tail structures to different types of feathers and facial features. The artist tells Colossal that she initially experimented with fiber and wire mesh, but found that paper best replicated the structure and texture of feathers. After creating a sketch of all the component body parts, Rajput begins the labor-intensive assembly process, which is complete once she has added finishing touches with acrylic paint.
The artist explains that she has had a lifelong affinity for wildlife and birds in particular, cemented by her family moving around a lot; nature was a steady presence even as Rajput’s built surroundings changed. As an adult, a visit to the Himalayas reconnected the artist to her passion for birds.
“As an artist I find it almost impossible to compete with nature’s sophisticated mechanisms and designs,” Rajput shares with Colossal. “I have taken this project on, to reach that level of perfection which can be applauded with a great sense of wonder by my audience and also acts as a reminder of what’s out there and needs to be protected.”
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.