In order to spread as widely as possible, some varieties of seeds will grow sharp thorns and burs. These sharp points allow the seeds to attach themselves to unsuspecting animals or humans unnoticed, and has earned them the moniker of “hitchhiker plants.” Photographer Dillon Marsh (previously here and here) is accustomed to these seeds hitching a ride on his shoes or clothes during photo excursions through tall grasses of his home in South Africa. Curious about the details hidden beyond their sharp edges, Marsh began to take macro photographs of these natural objects which reveal the often unnoticed resemblance to faces or skulls.
To create such detailed photographs Marsh set up a tiny photo studio. “After carefully lighting the seeds, I then photographed them using a macro lens which allows me to zoom in but leaves me with a very narrow depth of field,” Marsh explains to Colossal. “To overcome this, I take several photos of each seed, incrementally focussing along its entire depth. I then stack the images together in Photoshop in order to create one fully detailed image.”
Marsh is currently adding works to his series Counting the Costs, in which the photographer digitally embeds spheres of melting glaciers amongst city life in India, and soon other parts of the world. You can view more of his projects on Instagram and Behance.
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Intricately Cut Paper and Delicate Illustrated Details Form Character-Filled Scenes by Lucila Biscione
Artist Lucila Biscione works with cut and illustrated paper to create surreal, dream-like scenes. Whether creating a tableau backed with toned paper or a floating narrative displayed in a shop window, Biscione incorporates quirky details, including human-animal hybrids and moments of magic. Intricate hand-drawn faces and hairstyles add emotional depth to each multi-part artwork. In an interview with Playgrounds Biscione explains the theatrical tone of her work:
My inspiration comes from looking, going back and exploring moments that I have lived. They are usually memories or dreams or they can also even be stories that I have been told and I decided to transform. I draw thinking that those characters can really come alive on a stage. That is why I always have in mind the fabrics of the costumes or the materiality of the objects.
The artist, who grew up in Argentina, now lives and works in Berlin. In addition to her personal practice, Biscione also hosts workshops where she teaches the art of papercutting. You can see more of Biscione’s detailed paper-based work on Instagram and Facebook, and prints of select works are available from Toi Gallery.
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Chicago-based art duo Luftwerk recently opened a site-specific exhibition titled Parallel Perspectives inside of the McCormick House, the Elmhurst Art Museum’s contemporary art center and historic house designed by Mies van der Rohe. Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero installed acrylic panels, RGB LEDs, and diffusers that interact with the light in the space to create a kaleidoscope of colors and geometric shapes that respond to Mies’ architecture.
The McCormick House was designed with modularity in mind so that duplicates of the structure could be built in other locations. The plate glass walls are where prospective owners could flex their individuality by taking advantage of various color tint options. Luftwerk began the design process by moving the tinted surface idea to the interior. The conceptual pieces fill the space with blues, yellows, reds, greens, and other layered hues, which change as the light and color alter perspective.
“Parallel Perspectives is a step in our own direction using his basic philosophies,” Luftwerk said in a statement. “This exhibition combines ideas of Johannes Itten’s color theory and the basic concepts of the Bauhaus: with the geometry of a square as a prevalent form and playing with one-point perspective and 90-degree angles. It has given us an opportunity to elaborate on the ideas of Mies and develop them into our own shape and format.”
Parallel Perspectives is on view at the McCormick House now through August 25, 2019. To see more of Luftwerk’s continued exploration of light and color, follow the duo on Instagram.
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Utah-based illustrator Jenna Barton (previously) creates shadowy portraits of animals inspired by her dreams, travels, experiences, and the aesthetic and emotions of the rural environments where she grew up. While she does integrate watercolor into some of her illustrations, Barton’s work is primarily digital. The style she refers to as “magical-realism-animal-gothic” came about around 2017, after she completed her BFA in Illustration and decided to take some time to escape the constraints of school and to focus on art that she cared about.
I hark back a lot to my childhood in Idaho, as well as looking to my current environment in Utah, to inform my work. I’d like to capture the strange emotions that I always felt in rural and empty places, and the daydreams I’ve had there. It’s those liminal spaces that I like best, and I’m interested in the structures that bring the human world into nature—radio towers, houses, power lines—especially in the absence of humans themselves.
Barton tells Colossal that many of her subjects are mammals because they share traits with humans, “while at the same time existing in a very different world from them.” Lurking big cats and silhouetted dogs and deer stare blankly with white eyes and stoic postures against relatively simple backgrounds—a window, a staircase, clouds—which give the illustrations a sense of mystery. “Animals with elegant silhouettes, like canines and deer, are special favorites for their graceful looks and sense of motion,” Barton explains. “I give most of my subjects glowing white eyes to indicate the presence of a supernatural element and to suggest that the figures pictured are something between animals and spirits, or gods.”
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Icelandic artist Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, who goes by Shoplifter, cites her primary medium as hair. But rather than working with the expected range of browns and blondes that naturally grow on humans and animals, Shoplifter uses a range of hair that seems to draw its color palette from Muppets. Neon yellows and pinks, deep blues, and vivid greens commingle in massive installations that coat gallery walls, floors, and ceilings. Shoplifter’s immersive works often create cave-like spaces where visitors explore around, under, and through her textural worlds.
Shoplifter, whose moniker stems from a stranger’s mishearing of her given name, cites themes of vanity, self-image, fashion, beauty and popular myth as inspiration for her work. In an interview with artnet, she shared, “It started out with my fascination with humans and the things we mass produce for obscure reasons. Hair extensions are trying to beautify yourself and be unique. I noticed that layering the hair together and having it flow around created a very painterly tapestry feeling.”
Shoplifter exhibits widely and most recently showcased her work as Iceland’s representative to the the Venice Biennale. Her solo show Nervescape VIII is also on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland through September 15, 2019. Explore more of Shoplifter’s work on Instagram.
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Back for an eighth year, the annual Moleskine Project, curated by Rodrigo Luff and Spoke Art, brings together a diverse slate of artists all working within the confines of a Moleskine notebook. Featuring over fifty artists from around the world, this year’s exhibiting artists include Laura Berger (previously), Kevin Peterson (previously), and Martine Johanna. Luff describes the mission of the show as “a tribute to how artists have developed and grown by using sketchbooks to dive deeper into the personal realms that fuel their artwork. An energetic visual dialogue of imagery flows from frame to frame, forming a collective sketchbook that allows us to appreciate the radically individual approach taken by each artist.”
The Moleskine Project show opened on June 1 and runs through June 22, 2019 at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco. You can keep up with the bi-coastal gallery’s upcoming events on Instagram and Facebook.
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Baltimore-based artists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn, known as Jessie and Katey, started creating murals because of the sheer accessibility of public art. The pair have always created work with a big visual impact, but as their designs grew they began to consider the possibility of working on the ground in addition to large-scale walls. Their site-specific floor works combine inspirations from both textiles and board games to create interactive walkways that encourage play and exploration. Jessie and Katey explain to Colossal that “the compositions are inspired by the viewer and how they might travel through the work. It’s really fun watching little kids interact with the floor murals—they always know what to do.”
The math behind both textile design and quilting is an aspect that the pair must consider when painting their large-scale works, and have started to inform how the pair begins each piece’s early designs. “We approach our large-scale work a bit like screen printers, even though we don’t screen print,” the pair explains. “Our process of execution is very methodical and we tend to think in planes or layers. This is probably a result of having to develop concepts and adapt them to larger spaces in a short amount of time. It’s interesting that painting murals has informed how we paint murals.”
This summer Jessie and Katey are working with the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation in Baltimore to create a site-specific mural for the Foundation’s new community space. The artists will also be painting a piece in Sacramento in collaboration with Wide Open Walls and later this fall will be working on an immersive installation incorporating recycled materials at Baltimore’s Goucher College, a rare opportunity for the pair to work in three dimensions. You can view more of Jessie and Katey’s work on their website and Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Science
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.