For many people, the dream of being a full-time working artist is just a dream. But Chicagoan Laura Berger is living the dream. Berger, an accomplished painter and Squarespace user, is a rising star in the art world with recent solo shows at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco and Amsterdam’s Andenken Gallery. Berger’s instantly recognizable color palette and distinctive yet anonymous characters come together to form striking scenes that blur the line between representation and abstraction. “The figures in my work are meant to represent everyone, and myself, with external identifiers of race and age removed,” Berger explains to Colossal. “Sort of a drilling down to the more pure level of what makes us human and a representation on that soul level of where we’re all the same and equal.”
While she has honed her style and grown her presence as a fine artist over the last several years, Berger has also seamlessly incorporated different creative partnerships and products like greeting cards, calendars, and even bespoke wallpaper. “I’m so happy I found Squarespace. My website has been absolutely integral in building my career, and it was so fulfilling and empowering to be able to set it up completely by myself and get my own ball rolling,” Berger shares. “Being able to manage my own visual portfolio that I can update easily in minutes as well as a web shop and an integrated mailing list has been the cornerstone being able to support myself and grow as a full-time artist.”
“For me, working with clients on design projects is often a great way to shift my mental landscape a little from the very internally focused way that I think creatively when I’m doing work for a gallery show, and that can then spark new inspiration, thoughts, and techniques to implement when I go back to painting for exhibitions.” A far cry from Berger’s audition-centric past in the performing arts, she shares with Colossal that most of these projects have arisen organically. Thanks to her strong online presence with a professional-grade Squarespace website and impressive Instagram, partners reach out to her, contributing both to the diversity of Berger’s style of working and to her ability to support herself as an artist.
As Berger looks toward the future of her multi-faceted creative career, she sees opportunity in the ways we are globally connected. “Being able have our work discovered organically by other creative professionals, collectors, and curators from across the world is such an enormous gift. I only see that as something that will continue to increase and for me it feels both exciting and soothing—that we can overcome other barriers and connect with and inspire each other through visual language in this way.”
If you’ve been considering turning your creative dream into a reality, take the first step with a website from Squarespace. Easy-to-use customizable templates, e-commerce and marketing integrations, and 24/7 technical support help you find your footing no matter your unique path. Try Squarespace today with a free one-week trial, and when you’re ready to launch, use code COLOSSAL to save 10% on a website or domain.
This post was sponsored by Squarespace.
Share this story
Elegant Still Lifes of Luscious Fruits and Perfectly Ripe Vegetables Trapped Inside Plastic Packaging
Spanish studio QUATRE CAPS usually focuses on architectural renderings, but for a recent series, titled Not Longer Life, the group turned their attention to the plastic in our food system. In each of the six images, classic still life paintings by artists including Claude Monet, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, and Juan Sánchez Cotán are given a contemporary update. Recognizable still life elements like strongly directed light and decorative fabrics are maintained. But the perishable fruit that traditionally symbolized the temporary nature of life is now cloaked in plastic preservatives like cling wrap, clamshell containers, and stretchy foam sleeves.
The studio explains to Colossal, “Thousands of products are being commercialized, doubling and tripling a synthetic skin or even worse, taking the place of their natural wrapping skin with a plastic package in order to ‘ease’ their consumption.” If you like this series, also check out the work of Suzanne Jongmans. You can explore more projects by QUATRE CAPS on Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
Update: a reader shared an insightful article that highlights the importance of pre-cut produce in increasing accessibility to nutritious food for people with limited dexterity.
Share this story
Feathers, ferns, hearts: all normal fodder for a typical third wave coffee shop barista’s latte art portfolio. But one hobbyist barista and avian aficionado is leveling up with their bird-themed drawings. Using careful daubs of colored foam, Kunit92 creates stylized portraits of cockatiels, sparrows, and parrots in milky coffee beverages. The artist owns a bird named Sakura, a Bourke’s parrot, and also sometimes takes portrait requests from other (human) bird parents. The Japan-based latte artist shares their work on Instagram, and often includes a photo of the specific bird who inspired the caffeine-filled illustration.
Share this story
A new project designed by the global design collective Universal Everything (previously here and here) mimics the unique movements of visitors at the entrance of the exhibition AI: More Than Human at The Barbican in London. Future You presents a non-human animated figure that wiggles, shifts, and bends in tandem with the user, presenting up to 47,000 possible variations in appearance. The animation also evolves alongside the user, becoming more agile as it learns movements specific to the visitor’s body. The exhibition opened earlier this month and runs through August 26, 2019. You can see more animated and responsive works by Universal Everything on their website, Vimeo, and Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)
View this post on Instagram
Share this story
Boston-based conceptual artist Nathalie Miebach (previously) weaves colorful, complex sculptures using rope, wood, paper, fibers, and data from weather events. Two of the artist’s recent series explore the impact of storm waters on our lives and on marine ecosystems, with variables like wind and temperature (and the harmony of the composition) often informing the rainbow of colors used to translate the data into a three-dimensional structure.
The “Changing Waters” series uses data from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Gulf of Maine Ocean Observing System (GoMOOS) buoys as well as from coastal weather stations to show relationships between weather patterns and changes in marine life. Similarly, the artist uses meteorological data from recent storms including Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Maria, and Hurricane Katrina to inform her “Floods” series, which looks at the events both from scientific and human experience narratives. Cut and woven elements are connected to form geometric shapes and patterns that are as layered and in flux as our understanding of the storms themselves.
Miebach tells Colossal that her exploration of the intersection of science and art began while taking continuing education astronomy courses at Harvard University and basket weaving courses at a nearby school. As a tactile learner, she found it easier to understand the abstract concepts and ideas of the former by using the latter. “I was lucky to have a very open-minded professor who accepted it without any questions. I’m not sure if it hadn’t been for his openness to this somewhat unconventional way of learning astronomy, if I would have continued.”
See Miebach’s work in two solo shows opening this fall, at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Texas and the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Her work will also be exhibited as a part of group shows at Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts at Florida Institute of Technology, at New Media Gallery in Vancouver, and at Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts. Follow the artist on Instagram to see more of her sculptural work and for more details on upcoming exhibitions.
Share this story
Detailed Portraits of Tahiti’s Third Gender by Kehinde Wiley Challenge Gauguin’s Problematic Depictions
American artist Kehinde Wiley (previously) has unveiled a new series of paintings of Tahiti’s Māhū community, a group of Polynesians classified as a third gender between male and female. Presented at Galerie Templon in Paris, the colorful portrait series challenges a collection of 20th century works by Paul Gauguin, removing elements that Wiley considers problematic and exploitative side effects of colonialism.
Wiley takes issues with Gauguin’s depictions of the Māhū for being unrealistic fantasies that sexually objectify the community for the sake of his White audience back home. The paintings in his “Tahiti” series incorporate tribal patterns, bright colors, plants, and poses inspired by Gauguin’s work, but these distinctive elements were chosen by the models themselves as a form of “self-presentation.”
“I am interested in transformation and artifice,” the artist said in a statement. “My newest exhibition will engage with the history of France and its outward facing relationship to black and brown bodies, specifically relating to sexual proclivity. Gauguin features heavily in the imagination of France and her global interface–with that comes an entire history of complicated gazing. I interrogate, subsume, and participate in discourse about Māhū, about France, and about the invention of gender.”
The “Tahiti” exhibition opened on May 18 and will remain on view at the gallery (along with a new video work) through July 20, 2019. Follow Kehinde Wiley on Instagram to see what else he has been up to, including preparing for his upcoming Black Rock Senegal residency.
Share this story
Brooklyn, New York-based artist Dustin Yellin (previously) preserves three-dimensional photo collages in glass bricks to create what he describes as “frozen cinema.” Some of his more recent works feature landscapes only slightly more dramatic than our own natural and manmade world, often with groups of subjects working together to construct grand machines. Humans unite to build rockets under waterfalls and the sea, while a time machine is secretly constructed underneath a car junkyard. No matter the subject, each work explores our fate within the Anthropocene and the lasting impression we will leave on the Earth. You can see more of his scenes encased in glass on his website and Instagram.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Sculpture
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.