Misato Sano ensures that she always has a loyal companion by her side, albeit with a little less slobber and fur. Based in the Myagi prefecture of Japan, the sculptor carves wooden busts and full figures of well-groomed dogs, preferring to leave the small gouges from her chisel on their textured exteriors. Despite being stationary, the pups have typical canine qualities like plump bodies, panting tongues, and pink bows adorning their ears.
Each figure has a distinct facial expression, whether curious, joyful, or contemplative. “When I make a work, I express the multifacetedness of a woman (myself and an object of admiration) as a dog,” she said in a statement. “Dogs are always loyal to their masters. I make my work with the hope (that) they will also nuzzle up to their audience.”
To dive deeper into Sano’s process and see some of the real-life canines that inspire her sculptural works, head to Instagram, and check out her forays in ceramics, embroidery, and drawing on her site. You also might enjoy these carved pets by Gerard Mas.
Share this story
Chicago-based artist Rosemary Holliday Hall envisions transformation through Encyclia Imagosis, a sculptural series that brings the physical processes of insect metamorphosis to a human scale. The four artworks consist of oxidized fabric stretched across metal structures, creating a translucent form that highlights the spacious shape of the wireframe. Similar to insect chrysalises, the meshy works serve as a symbolic site for change. “Encyclia Imagosis investigates various ways we make sense of the world and relate to ourselves and others through imagination, metaphor, and material,” the artist writes.
Holliday Hall envisioned the project as merging her own physicality with the metamorphic processes of “microbes, insects, pollinators, and decomposed, who construct and deconstruct our world, for inspiration into ways of being,” she says. “I made these sculptures to imagine what it would be like to be a caterpillar in a self-made structure, whose purpose was to hold my disintegrated body as it transforms into another body.”
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Holliday Hall says Encyclia Imagosis has become more immediate and visceral.
Some days, becoming unrecognizable to myself, it seems the world and our systems are slushy slop in individual COVID chrysalises, amidst a painful collective metamorphosis… Now, more than ever, we are faced with the fragility and interdependence of our own bodies and the systems we inhabit. I keep returning to the chrysalis, for both solace and inspiration in that, the chrysalis is a messy, painful, and disorienting space, but within the mush there are imaginal seeds for transformation.
For more of the artist’s projects that merge natural processes and art, check out her Instagram.
Share this story
While many people are spending their days starting batches of sourdough, Karin Pfeiff-Boschek has been busy baking sweet pies with mesmerizing arrangements that appear almost too pretty to eat. She tops each pastry with a delicate floral motif of flaky dough, a precisely arranged gradient of sliced fruit, or a checkered weave braided in rows.
The pastry designer tells Colossal that she was raised in a family of bakers, although pies weren’t her first form of artistic expression. “As a child, I enjoyed seeing, smelling, and eating the breads and pastries that both of my grandmothers made. Baking was traditional in our family in rural Germany, and when I was a young teenager, I began baking cakes and pastries for my brother and sister,” she writes. “I did not become a baker, however, but became interested in fabrics, eventually designing, dyeing, and creating my own works of textile art.”
After learning to make pies from her American mother-in-law, Pfeiff-Boschek merged her new culinary skills with her background in design, saying she “began to wonder whether one could decorate them in a manner similar to the way cakes are turned into works of art.” Employing her own techniques, Pfeiff-Boschek modified her mother-in-law’s original recipe in minor ways and opted for chilling the raw pastry in batches.
I found that by cooling the dough while creating decorations, using a very thin, sharp knife such as a scalpel and working very precisely it was possible to create ornate decorations that held their shape during baking. I make it a priority to also show the baked pie because regardless of how beautiful a pie may look before baking, it never will be served in that state and must look good after it comes out of the oven.
To alter the dough colors, Pfeiff-Boschek adds powders made from freeze-dried berries, spinach, and beetroot. She tends to bake sweet pies with peaches, apples, and other fruits, although occainsly assembles a savory version filled with meat and vegetables. Each creation takes between two and six hours to assemble and adorn. “I love nature, and many of my designs come from time I spend in our garden with our German shepherd dog, Halgrim. I am inspired by trees, leaves, and vines but also by classical geometric patterns and quite mundane articles, such as gully lids,” the designer says.
Many of Pfeiff-Boschek’s edible artworks have culminated in a book, Elegant Pie, and on her blog by the same name. To see both pre- and post-bake photographs, head to Instagram. You also might like Lauren Ko’s vibrant pies and tarts.
Share this story
Interview: Artist Roberto Benavidez Shares His Fascination with Paper Sculpture and the Stories Behind His Fantastical Piñatas
Harboring an ongoing fascination with the piñata, artist Roberto Benavidez (previously) centers his practice on translation as he crafts fantastical creatures and scenes from Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings, medieval manuscripts, and landscape photographs.
When it comes to the form, that’s the challenge for me. The sculptor in me wants to not necessarily replicate the reference material but to capture the spirit of it. At times making adjustments that are either self-referential or just a play on the history of the piñata.
In the most recent interview available to Colossal Members, Benavidez dives into religion, sin, and how conceptions of his own identity impact his sculptures, no matter their original sources. He speaks with managing editor Grace Ebert about the joys of working within the constraints of paper and limiting himself to traditional aspects of piñata making.
Share this story
Plunge into the serene depths of the Indian Ocean through new 4K footage from the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s recent dive into the Ningaloo Canyons off the western coast of Australia. Previously unseen by researchers, the exploration captures aquatic life and swaths of the seafloor that have gone unexplored for years. Spanning 180 hours in total, the underwater adventure led to the discovery of more than 30 new aquatic species, in addition to the longest animal ever recorded. A member of the Apolemia genus, the record-breaking organism reaches an unprecedented 154 feet.
The humanless dive used the ROV Sebastian, a robotic underwater vehicle that can bear the pressure of 14,750 feet below water for lengthy durations, far more than people are capable of. See more of the institute’s mesmerizing videos on YouTube and find an extensive collection of deep-sea footage on its site. (via PetaPixel)
Share this story
Whether unwrapping themselves from textile folds or balancing atop spindly stools, Monica Rohan’s figures are perpetually in motion. The painter depicts adventurous subjects set amongst whimsical worlds of overgrown bushes, vibrant seas of fabric, and cloudless skies rendered in patches blue. “The figure brings tension, the possibility of a narrative,” she tells Colossal. Rohan envisions each character as the impetus for action in her playful landscapes and thickly decorated domestic scenes.
Each piece begins with the artist exploring a photographic catalog she maintains with imagery of nature, interiors, and self-portraits.
These are developed through photo sessions which last anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour. I then translate this content into sketches and studies, finding different ways to pull patterns out and manipulate the figure before moving forward with the painting proper…The first marks on the board are a transfer of a sketch for the figure. I’ll then start painting and slowly work my way across the surface in a single layer, constantly making micro-decisions and balancing the image as I go. The figure in this way acts as a sort of anchor that the rest of the painting moves around.
Often drawing from texts she’s reading—Charlotte Brontë’s Villette is one—the artist imbues fictional tales into her works. “I’m interested in when real life and fiction bleed into one another. I’ve always been an avid reader, but happily, nowadays I can read and paint at the same time thanks to audio-books. Often whatever I’m reading filters through into titles for works and indirectly into the paintings themselves,” she says.
Share this story
Xavier Puente Vilardell (previously) transforms blocks of coffee-colored wood into eye-catching sculptural forms, some of which resemble architectural structures and other natural forms shaped by wind, rain, and the sea’s turbulent waves. The Brussels-based artist uses pinewood, a malleable material that enables him to make precise and curved structural forms.
In a series of Youtube videos, Vilardell shows his virtual visitors around his studio, which features various axes mounted on the wall and a pile of wooden logs, a raw material from which he crafts his artwork. To create his sculptures, Vilardell uses traditional cutting tools and crafts each piece by hand. His skill and patience enable him to turn the blocks of wood into sculpted forms that twist in every direction, almost appearing to defy gravity.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Street Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.