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An Insightful Demonstration Recreates Donatello’s Marble Carving Technique
To coincide with the first major U.K. exhibition of works by the Renaissance great Donatello, the Victoria and Albert Museum released the latest addition to its How was it made? series, which explores the process behind some of art history’s most lauded pieces. The short video follows sculptor Simon Smith as he creates a scaled-down iteration of the 15th-century Prato Pulpit, a relief featuring dancing cherubs made for the Cathedral of Prato.
Referring to marble as “the emperor of all stones,” Smith draws a portion of the original work on a small block and explains the unique characteristics of the material as he carves. “It’s all about trapping shadows,” he says. “Carving is all about having deep cuts here and lighter here and the angle here and how the light plays on it. And certainly in relief because relief carving like this. It’s kind of halfway between sculpture and drawing.” While demonstrating how Donatello might have approached his work, Smith offers a compelling glimpse into how two artists’ techniques overlap and converge centuries apart.
Donatello: Sculpting the Renaissance is on view through June 11 in London and includes Smith’s panel, which viewers are encouraged to touch. Find more about the demonstration on YouTube. (via Kottke)
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Susannah Carson Evokes the Amorous Tradition of the Lover’s Eye Through Antique Plate Paintings
On vintage serving ware and ornately decorated plates, artist Susannah Carson renders fragmented portraits of women who peer out from the center of the vessels. The oil paintings evoke the Georgian tradition of the “lover’s eye,” sentimental miniatures depicting the facial features of a spouse, child, or family member often found on jewelry of the time. These tiny works would also allow the wearer to obscure the exact identity of the subject, making them ambiguous keepsakes for affairs and other clandestine activities.
For Carson, this amorous practice becomes the basis of inquiry as she imagines her lively characters, their stories, and how they connect to the history of such unconventional canvases—an avid antique collector, she’s currently working on an illustrated guide on the process, as well as a series of paintings paired with the antiques they depict. Blending past and present, her pieces highlight the unknown, whether the lineage of the vessel itself or the identity of the subject. She explains:
I’m interested in painting as not just an optical illusion, but as an illusion of life—of otherness, of richness, of engagement, of that delicate connection we have with other beings which allows us to feel, for a moment, not so alone. With compositions highlighting the gaze, these subjects tell us their stories with a single look and ask for us to tell them our stories in return, thereby creating—unlike the alienation of much modern art—a welcoming intimacy.
Carson will soon release a series of works combining coveted Staffordshire dog figurines and painted portraits, which you can watch for on Instagram. Shop originals and prints on her site.
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Barbora Batokova’s Enthralling Photographs Vividly Capture the Gilled Underbellies of Fungi
Pittsburgh-based photographer and self-proclaimed nemophilist Barbora Batokova has cultivated a deep passion for fungi ever since her childhood in the Czech Republic. Growing up mushroom hunting and foraging for hearty meals, Batokova shares the cultural nuances linked to moving overseas as she explains that the “Czech Republic is a mycophilic country, which means people are not afraid of mushrooms, unlike people in mycophobic countries like the U.S.”
Yearning for her roots, Batokova created fungiwoman, an ongoing photography and cooking project that allows her to reconnect with nature. Venturing into the woods year-round, she explores new regions, hunts for mushrooms, captures images to learn about different species, and brings the fruitful yield home to cook. Her mesmerizing photographs show small orange caps springing up from mossy grounds and vibrantly fruiting polypores branching from trees. Devoted to protecting precious corners of the woods, she hopes to inspire others to look closely at the surrounding environment.
Batokova’s forthcoming book about mushrooms will be released in 2024, and she has prints and cards available in her shop. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram to tag along as she traverses new thickets and shares her findings.
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Design Food Illustration
Voxel Shops and Food Stalls by Shin Oh Tuck Traditional Malaysian Culture into Nostalgic Renderings
Illustrator Shin Oh nestles childhood memories of visiting traditional Malaysian shops and food stalls within tiny three-dimensional renderings, placing the immense affection she feels for such spaces in small confines. Part of two companion series titled 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops and 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls, the digital works are made with voxels, or volumetric pixels used for building in popular video games like Minecraft and Roblox. Whether depicting a bakery or dim sum stand, Shin constructs each stall uniformly with two walls and soft color palettes “because nostalgic memories are warm, and hawker stalls always give me fuzzy warm feelings as they serve affordable and great food,” she says. The “hawker centre is hot and stuffy, too.”
126³ Tiny Voxel Shops was the first of the pair, which Shin created for a group exhibition in 2021. “During the pre-production phase of this project, I had conversations with my mother about the shops that we used to visit back then,” she shares. “I listed down as many shops as possible and filtered the list down to ten shops I think have unique visual characteristics that people can immediately recognize when they see them.” Included are both ubiquitous and rare sights, like a tailor’s studio and a well-stocked biscuit store. “There is no modern-style décor in this shop, no bright lights, no air-conditioning. One uniqueness about traditional biscuit shop is having lots of aluminum tins and glass jars, literally stacked from floor to ceiling,” she says.
This description is typical for Shin, who shares insights into her process and the objects she chooses for each space. Her ongoing series of open-air hawker stalls continues this approach with information about the dishes served from each kiosk. Bak Kut Teh, for example, translates to “meat bone tea” and is a broth with Chinese herbs and spices, pork, mushrooms, tofu, cabbage, oil rice, and fried dough known as youtiao, and Shin’s rendering of this stand includes various pots and friers used for making the dish. Although each space is imagined, the idea is to use such commonplace and easily interpretable items to create scenes that are understandable across cultures. “People can recognize the stalls from the objects even without having to understand the signboard or read the captions,” Shin shares. “In my opinion, food connects every human together, and it conquers all, from language barriers to cultural differences. I hope it’s the same for this foodie series.”
You can find more from both of the collections on Instagram. (via Present & Correct)
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13 Illustration Graduates to Watch From the Maryland Institute College of Art
As the premiere visual storytelling form, illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is a truly interdisciplinary practice using experimentation, reflection, and point of view. Confronting subjects of importance can be achieved with bold strokes or with a whisper, drawing the viewer closer to a place of understanding. Through their envisioning the world of an author, contemplating life, or delving into one’s gender identity, these young illustrators are giving us a roadmap to the future. They imagine and build worlds of fact, fantasy, and poetry that go beyond the page using ink, ceramics, pixels, paper, cloth, graphite, time, and sequence.
Where these inspiring illustrators come from is as unique as their culminating work. With many having studied in the field, others emerge from animation, health care, advertising, design, and social sciences. They bring not only their deep passion for illustration as a practice but their attention to the needs of society through art. Distinct in how they reach this goal, the one-year MA in Illustration and two-year MFA in Illustration Practice programs give current practitioners, or those new to the field, choices on advancing their creative output.
Acknowledged nationally as a premier leader in art and design education, MICA is deliberately cultivating a new generation of artists—one that is capable of seamlessly integrating innovation, entrepreneurship, and creative citizenship with contemporary approaches to art, design, and media.
MICA is redefining the role of artists and designers as creative, solutions-oriented makers, and thinkers who will drive social, cultural, and economic advancement for our future.
What will you create?
See more thesis work and full artist profiles at mica.edu/gradshow23.
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Dressed in Soft Cushions and Bulbous Garb, Colorful Personas Emerge from Frode Bolhuis’ Daily Sculpture Project
Bound with colorful cushions and twine, draped in chains of spheres, or sprouting a single leaf from their head, the characters that originate in Frode Bolhuis’s Almere studio embody the Dutch artist’s playful imagination and desire for experimentation. Part of an ongoing sculpture project, the expressive cast is currently comprised of 117 miniature figures made primarily of polymer clay with wood, fiber, and metal additions, each of which has a distinctive personality.
Bolhuis (previously) began the project with the intention of creating a new work each day, although he shares that in order to refine the characters’ features and fashion their garments, he’s more likely to complete two per week. While much of his process remains the same as when he began the project in February 2022, the artist is currently branching into textile design in collaboration with the studio Byborre and a loom in his studio. He shares about the evolution of the collection:
I don’t know if they get better but they continually find new forms, forms I didn’t know of before I started. It’s like I’m getting to know myself through the sculptures. It’s a wonderful paradox that the set form, size, and discipline give so much freedom. It really feels as if I can continue this forever and continually develop. It’s magic.
If you’re in Philadelphia, you can see a few of the artist’s works later this year as part of Hi-Fructose’s group exhibition at Arch Enemy Arts. Otherwise, find more of the whimsical personas on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.