“When we spend a lot of time in a place, and if we are paying attention, a kind of intimacy develops,” says Jeanne Simmons. The artist, who’s based in the Pacific Northwest, grounds her practice in this sense of familiarity and ease with her surroundings. “We come to know the plants that grow there and the critters that roam there… We may even begin to feel that we ourselves have become part of that place, and it is this feeling that sustains and inspires me.”
After gathering natural materials like branches, wild vegetables, and bark, Simmons constructs garments that intertwine her own body and those of others with the landscape and obscure the distinction between the two. In one work, a full skirt made of Queen Anne’s Lace trails from the artist’s waist and blends with a meadow, while another piece braids dried vegetation into a model’s blond hair, developing a feet-long braid that appears to emerge from the ground. “Grass Cocoon” is similar, twisting locks into the material and swaddling a figure’s body in a sheath of green. “This is how I celebrate and deepen my connection with the natural world. I suppose I have discovered that the best way for me to become part of the landscape… is to wear it,” she shares. “It is also, at least in part, a lamentation for the catastrophic loss of that connection that we are witnessing in real-time.”
Simmons has several works in progress at the moment, including a kelp shroud and fennel gown, and is collaborating with director and producer Ward Serrill on a film about her practice. Keep up with those projects on her site and Instagram. (via Lustik)
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Since 2010, Brazilian origami artist Jo Nakashima has amassed a trove of original designs ranging from modular cubes and kinetic works to multicolor, angular wildlife. His creations require just a single sheet of double-sided paper and a deft hand and vary in complexity: Nakashima marks the eagle with pleated wings, quacking duck, and writhing snake shown here as intermediate or above. Head to YouTube for detailed instructions on folding your own versions of his intricate designs, but take note of his warning: “Although I call it ‘simplified,’ it doesn’t mean it is simple: it is just simpler than the original version, but actually it is still a bit complex.”
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It’s easy to recognize the quirky, joyful characters of French artist Jean Jullien. Whether looming over a park or gracing a deck of cards, his dodgy dogs, smirking fish, and mischievous tree-climbers are cartoonish in style and emotionally conspicuous with their anxious expressions and good-natured gestures. A forthcoming monograph published by Phaidon celebrates Jullien’s broad body of work, which spans public sculpture, illustration, and design. In addition to his most lauded projects, the 256-page volume also contains early sketches and never-before-seen pieces. Jean Jullien ships on May 25 from Bookshop.
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From floral Soundsuits and found-object sculptures to a multicolor web of millions of pony beads, Forothermore surveys the 30-plus-year career of artist Nick Cave. The retrospective, which draws its name from “forevermore” and “for others,” opened last week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and captures both the evolution and mainstays of the artist’s practice. Cave spoke with Colossal in an interview ahead of the show, saying, “Why now, why now this moment, why this exhibition, why this survey, and who is it for? Once I removed myself from it, I realized that it’s not for me. It really allowed me to take a course of action in terms of that movement and what will this look like, looking at three and a half decades of work.”
Arranged thematically rather than chronologically, the exhibition opens with an iteration of the metallic wind spinners that were part of Cave’s 2017 show at MASS MoCA. Guns, bullets, and teardrops are embedded in some of the kinetic pieces that hang alongside smiling faces and peace signs. These sinister symbols pervade the suspended installation, which considers how a desire to only see beauty can mask painful, life-threatening issues.
Heavily patterned vinyl wallpaper designed in collaboration with Cave’s partner Bob Faust runs through much of the show and creates a textured backdrop for the artist’s mixed-media assemblages of kitsch figurines, vintage furniture, and other trinkets. Dozens of his signature Soundsuits stand inside the fourth-floor gallery, including the mournful piece veiled in 929 black flowers that was created in response to George Floyd’s murder. Wall sculptures made of items sourced from flea markets—these include rusted tools, dominos, wooden boards, button-up shirts, and glittering orbs—date back to the 90s and surround the vibrant, armor-like costumes.
Cave created the first Soundsuit following Rodney King’s beating in 1991, and he’s never wavered from confronting racism in his works. “As I’m trying to imagine other ways of thinking and making, I’m constantly being brought back to this, unfortunately,” he says. The exhibition also includes a collection of bronze arms cradling sprawling, metallic bouquets with hands often clenched and raised in a fist, a reference to strength and solidarity in the face of rampant injustice.
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Books have beguiled us since they first emerged in the form of ancient scrolls and codices around the world. The way we access, utilize, and enjoy reading material has seen technological transformation over the centuries, from Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in the 15th century, to the first dictionary produced in 1532, to the advent of affordable pocket paperbacks in the early 20th century. Paper tomes have had an immeasurable impact on society and our ability to relay knowledge, and even in an age of digital e-readers, the physical volume still embodies an appeal as timeless as literature itself. In a new exhibition in London, the world of reading provides a starting point for the seven artists to explore a wide range of themes and materials, highlighting our perennial fascination with the printed and bound medium.
Cheri Smith, Russell Webb, Guy Laramée (previously), Aron Wiesenfeld, Guillermo Martin Bermejo, El Gato Chimney, and Claire Partington (previously) work across a wide range of styles including sculpture, illustration, painting, and printmaking. In Bookworks, Laramée’s deconstructed reference volumes are transformed into miniature topographical landscapes that challenge our sense of scale. Cheri Smith’s paintings, sometimes painted onto book covers, reference the eccentricity of animals and how they are categorized in natural history catalogues. El Gato Chimney constructs elaborate narrative illustrations in accordion-style publications that follow an eccentric band of characters as they confront giant creatures.
Bookworks is on view at James Freeman Gallery through June 4.
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The gharial, a large crocodile with a distinctive bulge on its snout, is critically endangered in the wild, with researchers counting only a few hundred individuals in 2017. Living primarily in the rivers of Nepal and India, the scaly reptiles saw a rapid decline since the 1930s due to overfishing and loss of habitats from sand mining and dams, and biologists estimate the population has dwindled to only two percent. Thanks to the National Chambal Sanctuary, though, which is home to a substantial group of gharial, the species is growing.
Photographer and conservationist Dhritiman Mukherjee visited the enclave southeast of New Dehli a few years ago where he captured striking images of a father swimming through the murky river with more than 100 young clinging to his back. Measuring 16 to 17 feet long, the male likely was carrying the offspring from 7 to 8 female gharials, which lay anywhere from 20 to 95 eggs each year. “Some breeding programs [and rerelease in the wild] have taken place in the Chambal. So, that’s why I selected the subject so that it gets attention from policymakers or concerned people,” Mukherjee told PetaPixel.
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