Art

Teeming with Flourishes, Narrative Sculptures by Amber Cowan Revitalize Vintage Pressed Glass

December 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Bridesmaid Returns to the Shore of Her Full Moon” (2019), glass and mixed media, 23 x 22 x 9.5. Photo by Matthew Hollerbush. All images © Amber Cowan, shared with permission

The monochromatic assemblages of Amber Cowan (previously) are at once domestic narratives and homages to an abandoned industry. Delicate baubles frame a central figure or scene that the Philadelphia-based artist illustrates with scraps of pressed glass. Whether focused on a lone bridesmaid or a hen hoarding eggs, Cowan’s works explore the feminine experience through themes of “loneliness, the search for meaning, the search for love, and the following of symbolism in the mundane.”

Cowan shops at antique stores and markets for materials, although she more frequently scours scrapyards around the country for discarded bits of glass, which are known as cullets. As a whole, the now-defunct industry was booming from the mid-1800s before it dropped off during the 20th Century. “Nowadays, this material is out of fashion and relegated to the dustbin of American design,” the artist writes, noting that she often finds masses of historic hues at the scrapyards. “These barrels of color are often the last of their run, and my work will essentially give the formulas their final resting place and visually abundant celebration of life.”

Some of Cowan’s work is included in the recently published book, Objects: USA 2020. If you’re in New York, her piece “Dance of the Pacific Coast Highway at Sunset” is permanently on view at The Museum of Arts and Design, and she’s also part of an upcoming group exhibition at R & Co. Gallery. Until then, explore more of her textured sculptures on her site and Instagram.

 

“Young Love Resting in Gray Meadow” (2019), glass and mixed media, 22 x 19 x 11 inches. Photo by Matthew Hollerbush

“Nautilus in Crown Tuscan” (2019), glass and mixed media, 8 x 4 x 12 inches. Photo by Matthew Hollerbush

“Hen Collecting All of Her Ova” (2020), glass and mixed media, 18 x 20 x 9 inches. Photo by Constance Mensh

Detail of “Bridesmaid Returns to the Shore of Her Full Moon” (2019), glass and mixed media, 23 x 22 x 9.5. Photo by Matthew Hollerbush

“Snail Passing Through the Garden of Inanna” (2019), glass and mixed media, 22 x 19.5 x 10.5. Photo by Matthew Hollerbush

“Dance of the Pacific Coast Highway at Sunset” (2019), glass and mixed media, 34 x 46 x 12.5 inches. Photo by Constance Mensh

“Hen Collecting All of Her Ova” (2020), glass and mixed media, 18 x 20 x 9 inches. Photo by Constance Mensh

“Bubble Bath in the Tunnel of Love” (2020), glass and mixed media, 25 x 25 x 15 inches. Photo by Constance Mensh

 

 



Craft

A Woolen Menagerie of Miniature Creatures by Natasya Shuljak Exudes Joy and Whimsy

December 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Natasya Shuljak, shared with permission

Adorable, cheery, and slightly dazed, this eccentric ensemble of miniatures is the latest from Moscow-based crafter Natasya Shuljak (previously). Made from raw fibers felted together, the expressive characters are imbued with whimsy and play. Flower petals sprout from ambiguous creatures, while other pudgy animals emit a calm and joyful air.

Because Shuljak’s style of dry felting emerged in recent years, she shares that her current preoccupation is with finding new ways to create without the help of tradition. “There is a lot of abstract in my work, and I want to enhance this feeling,” she says, noting that she might seek inspiration in other art forms like sculpture and architecture. “These spheres are united by expressive language: the character of the line, rhythm, texture, color, etc.”

Follow Sjuljak’s latest creations on Instagram, where she also announces news about releases in her shop.

 

 

 



Photography

A Rare Photograph Captures ISS Moving Between Jupiter and Saturn During the Great Conjunction

December 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

Image © Jason De Freitas, shared with permission

On December 22, Jupiter and Saturn appeared closer together in the sky than they have since March 4, 1226. The nearly 800-year event is known as the Great Conjunction, which occurs to some extent every two decades. In true 2020 fashion, though, this year’s meeting was the most acute in centuries.

Like others around the globe, photographer Jason De Freitas shot the event, although his image is particularly fortuitous because it frames the International Space Station appearing to fly between the glowing planets. De Freitas traveled about an hour away from his home in New South Wales to Jellore Lookout, where he used a variety of tracking equipment to align and snap the 10-second exposure photograph.

Purchase a print of the singular sighting on De Freitas’s site, and check out the video below to dive further into his process. You can follow his astrophotography on Instagram. (via Peta Pixel)

 

 

 



Art

A Small Scottish Town Delegates the Annual Christmas Light Display to Its Youngest Residents

December 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images via Poppy McKenzie Smith, shared with permission

In a delightful holiday tradition, the small town of Newburgh in southern Scotland tasks its youngest residents with creating the glowing Christmas decorations that adorn the streets. Now in its 19th year, the annual event begins with school-age kids submitting their quirky designs to a competition. Once a winner is chosen, the artwork is sent to Blachere Illumination to be translated into LED before it’s unveiled at a ceremony held at Lampost 15, where the new work is hung each year. The winning artist gets the honor of turning on the light, illuminating their crooked gingerbread figure or beaming reindeer for the 2,000-plus residents to enjoy. In a similarly charming practice, the runner-up’s art is featured on the town’s Christmas card. (via It’s Nice That)

 

 

 



Art Design

A Curved Pavilion Designed by Kengo Kuma Weaves Wooden Slats into a Tessellating Structure

December 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Kengo Kuma and Geoff Nees, by Tom Ross

Wrapping a gallery space at the 2020 NGV Triennial is a bowed pavilion of tessellating wood. A collaboration between renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma (previously) and Australian artist Geoff Nees, the large-scale installation is constructed with trees felled at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens during the millennium drought. The pointed slats interlock without the use of additional supports, a design derived from traditional Japanese joinery, and create a scaly pattern that allows light to stream through.

Titled “Botanical Pavilion,” the curved structure features foraged timber—some of which predates European colonization on the continent—arranged by color rather than species. “By prioritizing natural phenomena over scientific order, the designers call into question the reductive nature of science during the colonial era, a mindset at odds with many Indigenous cultural beliefs and knowledge systems,” a statement about the piece says. At both ends, the walkway opens up to reveal South Korean artist Lee Ufan’s 2017 painting titled “Dialogue.”

“The semi-circular shape of the pavilion invites the visitor into a journey to explore the space and experience the various essences of wood,” Kuma told Dezeen. “The porous structure is assembled like a tridimensional puzzle without the use of metal connections to be able to reassemble it in a different location.”

“Botanical Pavilion” is on view through April 18, 2021. Follow Kuma’s and Nees’s upcoming projects on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Minuscule Scenes Appear Against the Backdrop of Used Tea Bags in Watercolor Paintings by Ruby Silvious

December 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Ruby Silvious, shared with permission

From her studio in Coxsackie, New York, Ruby Silvious (previously) repurposes the thin paper pouches holding her beverage of choice into miniature canvases. Sometimes strung together or ripped to remove the leaves, Silvious’s tea bags depict the quiet, unassuming moments of everyday life: Passersby trudge through the snow, masks hang to dry, and two women meet for a swim on the naturally dyed backdrops. The artist generally keeps the string and tag attached, matching the mundane subject matter with the material’s ritualistic origins.

Following her 2019 release Reclaimed Canvas, Silvious is working on another book and preparing for upcoming solo shows in France, Germany, and Japan. Shop prints on her site, and follow her soothing works on Instagram and Tumblr.