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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Glasgow-based artist Lola Dupré (previously) continues her practice of slicing and rearranging photographs and art historical works into cleverly surreal collages. Her newest manipulations include a blockheaded Léon Bonnat, an entire row of irresistible puppy eyes, and a twisted rendition of George Stubbs’s “The Kongouro from New Holland.” Dupré’s cat, Charlie, still finds himself as fodder for the unusual works—see two pieces centered on him below—and the artist is currently in the process of creating her 33rd portrait of the orange-and-white feline. Find more of the Dupré’s compositions in the latest issue of Standart Magazine, shop originals and prints on her site, and see the distorted works in person at Portland’s Brassworks Gallery later this year. You also can follow along with the contorted creations on Instagram and Behance.
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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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Sublime Renderings of Women and Girls Explore Notions of Beauty in Portraits by Rosso Emerald Crimson
In her exquisite portraiture, London-based artist Rosso Emerald Crimson renders female subjects who emerge through a haze of pastels and muted tones. She infuses the dreamy oil paintings with responses to current affairs and questions about the future, which often serve as a catalyst for her projects. “I don’t ‘think’ specifically about political or ethical issues when I paint although my creative flow is undoubtedly fuelled by the impressions and emotions many global events leave subconsciously,” she tells Colossal. Issues of racial justice and the unrealistic portrayal of beauty have both played a role in her recent works, including the compelling portrait of a young Black girl titled “What Are We Waiting For.”
Generally, the subjects are people Rosso has a relationship with or someone who’s caught her eye, although she’s expanded her purview to models she’s never met as a way to adapt to pandemic restrictions. The artist often depicts the women and girls staring forward with unsmiling expressions. “I am enchanted by the diversity of human beings which is what truly makes us beautiful,” she says.
If you’re in London, you can see Rosso’s paintings that are part of an exhibition celebrating Women’s History Month at Zebra One Gallery until March 31. She’ll also have pieces on view at Southbank Centre this summer and a solo show at Chrom Art Gallery in November. Prints and originals are available in her shop, and you can see works-in-progress on Instagram.
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Throughout 2020, Stacey Lee Webber developed Insurrection Bills, a revisionary collection of United States currency overlaid with subversive stitches: flames envelop monuments, a wall is left unfinished, and an eclectic array of face masks disguise Abraham Lincoln’s portrait. Contrasting the muted tones of the paper, the vibrant embroideries stand in stark contrast and as amended narratives to those depicted on the various denominations. “The series references feelings of anger, turmoil, and frustration during the tense political climate while recontextualizing and questioning the beloved iconography we see on our money,” she tells Colossal.
Currently working from her studio and home in Philadelphia’s Globe Dye Works, Webber is formally trained in metalsmithing—she has an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, where she initially began using currency as the basis of her projects—and sees the two mediums as an ongoing conversation. Embroidery “allows me to work in a quieter setting outside of my metal shop acting as a sort of ying to the yang, soft and hard, masculine and feminine,” she says.
Many of Webber’s sculptures involve soldering coins, including the copper penny works that make up The Craftsmen Series and question the value of blue-collar labor in the U.S. Comprised of hollow, life-sized tools, the collection visualizes “putting endless amounts of work into a single cent,” the artist says.
Webber has multiple exhibitions this year, including at TW Fine Art Palm Beach Outpost in April, Philadelphia’s Bertrand Productions in October, and Art on Paper Fair in New York City this November. If you can’t see the currency-based projects in person, head to Instagram, where the artist shares a larger collection of her works and glimpses into her studio.
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Despite their modest clothing and perfectly plaited hair, the women that artist Gerard Mas sculpts are spirited, brazen, and undeniably shameless. Whether blowing a wad of bubblegum, sporting visible tan lines, or unabashedly digging in their noses, the corset-clad figures are steeped in humor and wit and cast a contemporary light on the long-held conventions of the medium.
Mas began the ongoing series a few years ago as he ventured into figurative sculpture and struggled with portraying perfection and beauty. He shares:
This was an impossible job. There was always something that broke that beauty. And a sculpture attempting to speak of beauty with some disproportion or flagrant compositional flaw is pretentious if not ridiculous… I decided to anticipate that failure and deliberately introduce discordant elements that broke that pretended beauty by making our sense of good taste squeak. Let’s say it’s an ode to the impossibility of beauty.
Based near Barcelona, Mas originally trained as a restorer with a focus on reconstructing floral ornaments in architecture. “In my obsession with contemplating the art of other times, I also realized that our current cultural codes prevent us from contemplating the art of the past without reinventing its meaning. We are subjected to an avalanche of daily images that shapes the way we look,” he says. This experience continues to inform his practice that seamlessly melds traditional techniques—his use of standard materials like marble, alabaster, carved wood, gilding, and polychrome, for example—and contemporary subject matter.
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Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.