In Craig Walsh’s ‘Monuments,’ Enormous Projected Portraits Illuminate the Selective Histories of Public Art
In the mid-nineties, Australian artist Craig Walsh created his first projection at Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. Made with photographic slides, the massive installation temporarily transformed a tree into a large-scale portrait, enlivening the canopy and initiating what’s become a 30-year project.
Now encompassed within the artist’s Monuments series, the digital works continue to animate landscapes and public spaces around the globe, and they’ve evolved in breadth and scope, sometimes incorporating live video and sound that allows viewers to interact with the illuminated characters. Blinking, yawning, and displaying various facial expressions, the emotive figures address both connections between people and their surroundings and conversations around whose stories are upheld and disseminated. “The work in the early days conceptually linked more to how the environment we exist in influences the human condition,” Walsh tells Colossal. “Surveillance was another interpretation.”
Today, the responsive installations more directly address traditional narratives and challenge “the selective history represented in our public spaces,” he says. Many of the Monuments celebrate people who significantly impacted their communities, and yet, might be overlooked. His 2017 piece, “Churaki Hill,” for example, pays homage to Churaki, an Aboriginal man who was responsible for many successful water rescues in the Tweed region in the early 1900s.
Similarly, Walsh’s recent installation in Charlotte, North Carolina, honors the descendants of Mecklenburg County’s Black residents. Created for the annual Charlotte SHOUT! festival, the trio of works occupies Old Settlers’ Cemetery, the burial ground for the city’s wealthy residents throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. He shares about the project:
Much like today, Charlotte was a diverse city in its founding century…By 1790, the census for Mecklenburg County lists a total population of 1,608 enslaved African Americans or 14 percent of the town’s population. By 1850, enslaved African Americans accounted for 44 percent of the total population inside the city limits. While their graves are not marked, the north quadrant next to Church Street is the final resting place for the formerly enslaved members of Charlotte’s first one hundred years.
On display earlier this year, the installation features folk artist Nellie Ashford, filmmaker and counselor Frederick Murphy, and DJ and musician Fannie Mae. Honoring the deep family ties and legacies these three hold within the city, the portraits memorialize their continued contributions to local culture.
Walsh is currently based in Tweed Heads, New South Wales, and his latest project is on view at Victor Harbor, South Australia, through September 11. Explore more of the Monuments series on the project’s site and Instagram.
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Photographic Composites of Birds and Environments Accentuate the Rich Textures and Colors Found in Nature
Hundreds of individual photographs comprise the richly layered works of Joseph McGlennon, who plucks particular textures and colors found throughout the natural world and splices them into new contexts. In one image, the cascading feathers of Indian peacocks frame a sailboat in the distance, and another centers on an Australian black cockatoo surrounded by rainbow lorikeets, butterflies, and flowering foliage. Many of the works accentuate the sheen and distinct patterns on the bird’s feathers and utilize the variances in shadow and light to cohesively position the subjects within their manipulated surroundings. By highlighting these features, the photographer references the earth’s stunning diversity and what could be lost given the increasingly disastrous climate crisis.
McGlennon has a solo show open through September 11 at Michael Reid Southern Highlands—he’s represented by Michael Reid Sydney + Berlin—and is also included in Bird published by Hoxton Mini Press. Find more of his works, in addition to glimpses into his process, on Instagram.
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Fresh flowers emerge through a smoke-like substance in the eerie images of Netherlands-based photographer Robert Peek (previously). Arranged in bouquets of a single species, the lifeforms adopt a more mysterious quality, which Peek produces by adding white ink to water and submerging his subject matter. Although veiled in the hazy liquid, the bright petals breach the surface and are enhanced by an additional light source that amplifies their textures and vibrant hues. The photos shown here are a fraction of Peek’s massive collection of blooms, which you can find on Behance and Instagram.
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It’s been two months since NASA unveiled the first images captured by the exceptionally powerful James Webb Space Telescope, and a pair of new composites taken by the observer’s infrared NIRCam showcase Jupiter’s aurora and unique characteristics in similarly striking detail.
Against a dark backdrop filled with hazy dots that are likely distant galaxies, the wide view features two of the planet’s moons, Amalthea and Adrastea, and its rings. According to the European Space Agency, which released the images, the dusty halos shown are one million times fainter than the gaseous mass they encircle.
For the close-up, astronomers applied three filters to the NIRCam to capture the tiny details of the largest planet in our solar system. Zeroing in on the Jovian atmosphere, the image shows two polar auroras shining through red hues, with brilliant greens and yellows swirling around. “A third filter, mapped to blues, showcases light that is reflected from a deeper main cloud. The Great Red Spot, a famous storm so big it could swallow Earth, appears white in these views, as do other clouds because they are reflecting a lot of sunlight,” the agency says.
Because the human eye can’t see infrared light, scientist Judy Schmidt collaborated with astronomers to make the planet’s details visible. (via Peta Pixel)
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In June of 2020, Polly Irungu launched Black Women Photographers with about 100 members and the hope that more Black women would receive commissions and greater recognition for their work. “I didn’t really know that photography was a space for me to be in, as I didn’t see myself in the world of photography or really any art spaces for that reason,” Irungu said about the impetus for the organization in a recent interview. “I think with the work that I’ve been doing, it’s obviously shattering that. It’s putting us, as Black women, to the forefront, as we have been shut out of the industry for so long.”
Just two years later, the organization has grown exponentially, now touting a global membership of more than 1,200 from 50 plus countries. It offers a directory geared toward curators, editors, and brands looking to hire, in addition to programming, educational opportunities, awards, and portfolio reviews. In 2021, it also established an annual $50,000 grant fund in partnership with Nikon, furthering its mission by providing direct support to those in the community.
Irungu—who was also just named photo editor for the Office of the VP to the Biden-Harris Administration—hopes to expand the original goals of the organization as it enters its third year and continue to champion Black women in the industry. She explains:
I just want to continue building this community, celebrating these works in the community, helping nurture these photographers and get them to the next level, whatever that next level looks like for them. But also to continue to take up space in this industry, letting people know what “Yes, we’re here,” and we photograph portraits, we photograph sports, music, fine art, and we photograph anything that you can think of, like architecture, real estate, outdoors, landscape, film, all of that is within this community.
In honor of World Photography Day (which is today!) and its second anniversary, Black Women Photographers is hosting a print sale. We’ve gathered some of our favorite images from the collection here, but visit Instagram for a deeper dive into the archive.
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Glasgow-based artist Lola Dupre’s evocative and often humorous photographic collages of animals, historic images, and portraits tap into the unique personalities and emotions of her subjects. A cross-eyed cat has its vision multiplied, and a Shiba Inu’s joyful face pokes out of an enormous body in a play on repetition and perception. Dupre captures a range of expressions in both human and animal form (previously), exaggerating a raised eyebrow or fuzzy paw by layering numerous pieces of paper to extend legs, arm, eyes, and other features.
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Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.