Art

Suspended Blossoms and Patchwork Characters Imagine a Pastel Universe of Overabundance

November 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

“T. A. U. B. I. S.” (2020). All images © Tau Lewis, courtesy of Cooper Cole, shared with permission

Considering the possibilities of non-gendered motherhood, Toronto-born artist Tau Lewis stitches together oversized characters and floral tendrils that occupy a lavish fictional world. Textured swatches of fabric transform stark gallery space into pastel gardens and the idyllic universe of the “T. A. U. B. I. S.,” or the bulging-eyed creature with a protruding tongue shown above. Teeming with themes of compassion, joy, and freedom, the sprawling works evoke birth and the warmth of a womb filled with light.

Part of the collection titled Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls—which closed last week at Toronto’s Cooper Cole—Lewis’s installations imagine an environment centered around abundance, which she explains:

Mutable and devoid of gender, they transmute into blossoms. Every blossom embodies a soul who is alive and listening. T.A.U.B.I.S. blossoms grow year-round, uni-wide, even in most harsh weather and on most hostile planets. The T.A.U.B.I.S communicate and collect intel through these blossoms.

A self-taught artist based in Brooklyn, Lewis hand-dyes vintage curtains, bed sheets, blankets, towels, and clothing that she sews into quilts and looming sculptural figures. Her body of work generally explores multiple facets of trauma and the ways manual labor can provide healing. From the textiles gathered throughout Toronto, New York, and her family’s home in Negril, Jamaica, Lewis patches together representations of community members and ancestors. “The transformative act of repurposing these materials recalls practices of resourcefulness in diasporic contexts; upcycling is a recuperative act that reclaims both agency and memory,” she says in a statement.

Follow Lewis’s delicate works on Instagram, and head to Cooper Cole’s site to view her recent artist talk. (via Contemporary Art Daily)

 

“Symphony” (2020)

“T. A. U. B. I. S.” (2020)

“Delight” (2020)

“Delight” (2020)

“Symphony” (2020)

“Delight” (2020)

“Delight” (2020)

 

 



Animation Music

A Series of Animated Paper Video Games Evokes Digital Nostalgia

November 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

Perhaps no video game has evidenced the necessity of escapism in modern life more than Animal Crossing at the beginning of the pandemic. Players worldwide dove into the fictional universe to avoid the anxiety of daily life, a coping mechanism that a new animation by Austin-based creator Eric Power beautifully encapsulates. Set to a new song by Mixtape for the Milky Way, the short history is an ode to the charming simulation and a slew of its predecessors and contemporaries. The nostalgic video chronicles the evolution of video games—from Pacman and Asteroid to Cuphead, Limbo, and GRIS’s surreal watercolor landscapes—through a series of vintage television sets and classic simulations recreated entirely from paper.

For more of Power’s animated works, visit Vimeo and Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Subversively Elegant Portraits of Indigenous People Drawn on Repurposed Ledgers by Artist Chris Pappan

November 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Axiom” (2016), mixed media on ledger, 16 x 16 inches. All images © Chris Pappan, shared with permission

In his mixed-media portraits, Chicago-based artist Chris Pappan draws on the tradition of ledger art, a practice that flourished among Native populations throughout the Great Plains from around 1850 to 1920. Rooted in narratives, the renderings depicted the ways of life of Indigenous people and the nuances otherwise left out of mainstream conversations. “The mid-19th Century was a tumultuous time for the Indigenous peoples of America; the doctrine of Manifest Destiny brought deep pain and suffering but it also introduced new modes of expression,” says Pappan, who is a citizen of the Kaw (Kanza) Nation and of Osage, Lakota and mixed European heritage.

Using graphite, colored pencils, ink, and water-based media, the artist illustrates black-and-white portraits on a variety of intentionally sourced materials, like municipal ledgers and mining certificates. One artwork (shown below) features five mirrored figures imprinted on Boy Scouts of America neckerchiefs that offer commentary on the destructive practices of the youth organization by recreating appropriated imagery. A similar piece, “Of White Bread and Miracles,” evokes the illustrations in the manual Here Is Your Hobby: Indian Dancing and Costumes, which the group often used to teach its members. “The book is an example of cognitive dissonance as it erases any vestiges of contemporary Native people and homogenizes all Native American cultures while making casual remarks such as ‘…get a local Indian to teach you singing and dancing if you can…,'” Pappan writes.

 

“Welcoming the New Dawn” (2018), mixed media on Evanston municipal ledger, 18 x 36 inches

Despite invoking historical references, the artist imbues his figurative renderings with visions for the future. The lowbrow movement—particularly the melding of technical ability with taboo subject matter—influenced much of his earlier work. More recent projects have honed in on issues of systemic racism and appropriation of sacred objects, which Pappan hopes inspires viewers to question their own complicity. “I’ve always felt it important to understand boundaries (or rules) so that one can break them and then be able to redefine culture in our own terms. (Native American) Culture is living, and we have the responsibility of its continuity,” the artist says. He expands on the idea:

Through the medium of indelible ink, I am asserting our identity and our continued existence in the face of attempted erasure and negating the centuries of racist misrepresentations… In the re-appropriation of an object that may have been considered sacred to some, I hope to impose a sense of what Native people feel when we’re confronted with sacred objects or the bones of our ancestors displayed as macabre entertainment for capitalism.

Pappan is represented by Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe. If you’re in the Chicago area, his ledger art is on display in the windows of 1100 Florence in Evanston through December 4, and “Scout’s Honor” is part of the group show, The Long Dream, which is on view at MCA Chicago through January 17, 2021. Otherwise, stay up to date with his subversive projects on Instagram and his site.

 

“Scout’s Honor” (2020), ballpoint pen on vintage Boy Scout neckerchiefs, approximately 100 x 20 inches

Left: “Quantum” (2020), mixed media on embossed Evanston municipal ledger, 36 x 18 inches. Center: “Land Acknowledgement Memorial” (2019), digital image, public art installation in Austin, Houston, Chicago, Toronto, and New York City, 33 x 22 inches. Right: “Of White Bread and Miracles (Shield)” (2020), mixed media on Evanston municipal ledger, 36 x 18 inches

“See Haw Thwarts and Alien Invasion from the West” (2019), mixed media on Evanston municipal ledger, 18 x 23 inches

“Displaced Peoples” (2014), acrylic and mixed media on wood panel, 40 x 30 inches

“Atom Heart Mother (Earth)” (2016), mixed media on ledger, 16 x 10 inches

“La Sauvage” (2016), mixed media on mining certificate, 9 x 7 inches

 

 



Art Photography

Geometric Drone Paths Illuminate the Otherworldly Landscapes of the Southwest in Photos by Reuben Wu

November 25, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Reuben Wu, shared with permission

During recent years, Chicago-based photographer Reuben Wu has visited quiet regions in Bolivia, Nevada’s SolarReserve, and the rivers of molten sulfur flowing in Indonesian volcanoes to capture the natural grandeur of the earth’s outmost layer. In each location, Wu highlights the land’s beauty by juxtaposing the organic features with artificial light cast by drones flying overhead. The resulting images, of which Wu boasts a rich and diverse collection, employ illuminated geometric shapes to spotlight individual features.

Wu’s most recent series, titled Light Storm, brought him to the rocky landscapes of Utah and New Mexico—the photographer doesn’t disclose specifics due to the fragility of the environment. Here, the hovering instruments brighten the stripes and crevices embedded within the stone formations. Like his 2018 series that detailed the melting Pastoruri Glacier in Peru, Light Storm plays a similar role. “I felt like it was an attempt to document and preserve the memory of a landscape in peril,” he shares with Colossal.

Adamant about leaving no trace on the locales he visits, Wu’s process allows him to maintain a distance from his rugged subject matter while creating the conditions necessary for such precise shots. He explains:

Instead of the old photographers’ adage of waiting for the right moment, I’m literally creating it from my position behind the camera. It also allows me to have more creative ownership over a photograph of a landscape. Something I’ve been struggling with as a photographer/artist is the idea that a beautiful landscape is doing all the work for me, so this was an opportunity to finally have more artistic control.

Overall, Wu writes, “the project is about presenting familiar sights in a new and unfamiliar light, renewing your sense of seeing and the experience of discovery.” Prints of his topographical images are available in his shop, and you can find more of his work on Instagram, Twitter, and Behance.

 

 

 



Art Colossal Craft

Interview: Danielle Clough Discusses Embroidery’s Lengthy History and the Tenuous Distinction Between Art and Craft

November 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Danielle Clough, shared with permission

Through thickly layered thread, Cape Town-based artist Danielle Clough (previously) conveys joy, positivity, and moments of pure delight, themes she discusses in a new interview supported by Colossal Members. Clough positions herself in the worlds of both fiber-based craft and art by embroidering intimate portraits of pop culture icons and vivid floral works on found objects. Each piece is stitched in vibrant and bold hues that exaggerate existing tones or provide a playful interpretation of the subject.

I love the space I get to occupy as an embroiderer, which is between a crafter and an artist. Whether I’m seen by somebody else as a crafter or as an artist, it’s really none of my business. I love that space because it gives me room to create without necessarily having to evoke meaning.

In the interview, Clough spoke with managing editor Grace Ebert about her resilient optimism, the creative paths she pursued prior to embroidery, and the incredibly rich history of her chosen medium.

 

 

 



Art

A Towering Metallic Monolith Was Just Discovered in a Remote Area of Utah

November 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

Image via Utah Department of Public Safety

The Utah Department of Public Safety has put itself to the fullest possible use by not only counting bighorn sheep roaming the region but also discovering an unusual fixture jutting out from the rocky landscape. Last week, state employees stumbled upon a nearly 12-foot-tall silver monolith while flying overhead. Mimicking the inexplicable structure in the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the lustrous object appears to be made of metal and is located in an undisclosed area.

In a statement about the discovery, the department offered a reminder to the mysterious entity responsible for the monolith: “It is illegal to install structures or art without authorization on federally managed public lands, no matter what planet you’re from.”

As of Tuesday morning, it’s still unknown who created the structure, although internet sleuths who located the object on Google Earth suggest it may have been in existence for more than five years. The department is urging folks not to attempt to locate the monolith following a California woman’s disappearance for nearly two weeks at Zion National Park.

Update: The object was reported stolen on Nov. 27, an incident that photographer Ross Bernards chronicles in this post.