Cloaked in Light, Tate Britain Celebrates Diwali Through an Eclectic Technicolor Installation

November 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Remembering a Brave New World.” All images © Chila Kumari Singh Burman, courtesy of Tate Britain

A new installation by artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman masks the stately columns and ornate flourishes of Tate Britain’s facade, enveloping the London museum in a blanket of LED lights. In “Remembering a Brave New World,” technicolor symbols, pop culture references, and religious iconography transform the neoclassical structure into an illuminated space for celebration. The public artwork was revealed on December 14 to coincide with the start of Diwali, the five-day Indian festival of lights, and casts a kaleidoscopic glow on the surrounding area.

The eclectic collection draws on Punjabi Liverpudlian artist’s own life and family history, which manifests in pieces like the multi-colored ice cream truck. After moving to England, her father purchased one of the vehicles, an experience that imprinted her childhood.


Other elements focus on the United Kingdom’s history of imperialism: the Britannia figure at the building’s apex, for example, is camouflaged with Kali, the Hindu goddess of liberation and power, while the lower region features Rani of Jhansi, the warrior and leader of the Indian resistance against the British in 1857. “It’s important to critique buildings like this because they’re very Eurocentric,” Burman said in an interview with Dezeen. “So, I just thought: why not do something that captures what we’re all going through right now? I felt like it needed a blast of joy and light. And Diwali is about good over evil, about hope, unity and the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Glowing Hindu deities sprawl across the windows and arches, as well, including Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and purity, and Ganesh, the god of prosperity. The religious figures juxtapose the more playful elements, like a life-sized tiger, peacock, and pair of lips.

“Remembering a Brave New World” is the fourth annual winter commission by Tate Britain. The public artwork will be on display through the end of January, even while the inner halls of the museum are closed to visitors due to the ongoing pandemic. Follow Burman’s projects that explore questions of power and identity on Instagram.

Update: A previous iteration of this article incorrectly identified the lights as neon, not LED.





Under UV Light, Platypuses Radiate a Fluorescent Green-Blue Hue—But Scientists Aren't Sure Why

November 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

From left: visible light, ultraviolet light, and yellow-filtered UV light. Photo by Jonathan Martin

The platypus has puzzled researchers for centuries. From its venom-filled spurs, milk-secreting skin, and ability to eat a quarter of its body weight every day, the egg-laying mammal even had European zoologists believing it was a hoax well throughout the 19th Century.

A recent study published in the journal Mammalia adds to the duck-billed creature’s lengthy list of peculiarities. Apparently, when illuminated with ultraviolet light, the platypus’s dull, brown coat glows. The discovery happened after Jonathan Martin, an associate professor of forestry at Wisconsin’s Northland College, shined a UV flashlight on a flying squirrel in his backyard, which he found emitted a candy-colored pink hue. He then joined a few colleagues to visit Chicago’s Field Museum, where they replicated the process on the institution’s platypus collection, revealing the animals’ bright green and purple coat.

According to one study, the fluorescent substances are found embedded within mammals’ hair follicles, although scientists aren’t sure why. Sensory biologist Sönke Johnsen told The New York Times that “just finding fluorescence doesn’t mean it has any particular purpose.” Similar radiating colors exist in coral reefs and sea turtles, among other organisms, although the phenomena are less common in mammals.

Overall, the discovery has prompted further questions about whether the platypus can see UV light—most humans cannot, except for on certain items like white T-shirts—and even more interest in what we’ll discover about the curious creature next.



RISD Continuing Education Launches Winter Term With 100% Online Courses and Certificates

November 16, 2020


Rhode Island School of Design Continuing Education announces more than 60 online courses for adults and teens this winter, as well as eight certificate programs, that are offered 100% online.

Any RISD CE online course can be taken for personal or professional enrichment, and many qualify for the Online Certificate Program. Designed for students who are looking to accelerate their creative lives and work, subjects range from interior design, product development, and graphic design to painting, photography, and animation.

“Moving forward, we will be offering our adult certificate programs 100% online,” says Mariah Doren, director of program planning and development. “We are excited about the new opportunities and benefits online instruction offers; we found people really appreciate the flexibility it affords, and we have been able to expand our audience to include students from all around the world.”

Continuing Education students at Rhode Island School of Design can take online classes from anywhere, at any time of day or night. From courses like Acrylic Painting, Introduction to Illustration, and Thinking Visually to Adobe Photoshop, Jewelry Rendering, and Lighting for Interior Design, join RISD for flexible and immersive online learning experiences this winter.

While some teens may attend RISD CE Online Teen Courses for fun and enrichment, others may have a more academic goal in mind. Online courses like animation, video game design, fashion design, and art school prep provide a strong grounding in the visual arts, encouraging creative and personal growth through self-expression.

The winter term starts January 11, 2021.

For more information on RISD CE online winter courses, visit




Symmetrical Typewriter Sculptures by Artist Jeremy Mayer Merge the Organic and Manufactured

November 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Untitled II” (2020), typewriter parts and aluminum, 65 x 65 x 12 inches

“There’s nothing unnatural about mechanical components,” Jeremy Mayer says. For decades, the artist has harbored a fascination with the repetitive, complex patterns of single-cell organisms and the delicately rendered illustrations of Ernst Haeckel, an attraction that manifests in his latest sculptures.

Spanning up to 65 inches, Mayer’s metal artworks are comprised of old typewriter parts mounted around a laser-cut aluminum frame with only the original screws, nuts, pins, and springs holding the mirrorlike pieces together. Formed around a central, circular element, the multi-unit assemblages splay outward. Each of the six points—which evoke starfish, despite having one extra arm—often resemble trilobites, pincers, and other creatures and organic elements, merging the manufactured and natural.

“The form and function are based upon our knowledge of the living world around us. I’m interested in making the machine look like a living thing, drawing inspiration from the relationships that the early designers of the typewriter had with nature,” he says.


“Untitled I” (2020), typewriter parts and aluminum, 60 x 60 x10 inches

Mayer purchases between 10 and 15 typewriters each year, which he sources from repair shops, thrift stores, and yard sales around the San Francisco Bay Area. “The more broken the better,” he writes. In the past, he’s gravitated toward the smaller components of the metal machines to assemble birds, skulls, and other figurative sculptures. After transporting the bulky leftovers from studio to studio for years, he gathered enough duplicate parts to construct the symmetrical sculptures.

The ongoing series was born out of a residency at Mumbai-based manufacturer Godrej & Boyce, during which Mayer was asked to create works from leftover typewriters. During his six months, he built mandala-like sculptures and a 13-foot-tall kinetic lotus that explored the connections between industry and biological forms.

Mayer finished the first sculpture of this most recent series at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns and almost has completed five since. He has plans for ten in total, and you can follow their progress on Instagram.


“Untitled III” (2020), typewriter parts and aluminum, 60 x 60 x 14 inches

“Untitled III” (2020) (detail), typewriter parts and aluminum, 60 x 60 x 14 inches

“Untitled I” (2020) (detail), typewriter parts and aluminum, 60 x 60 x10 inches

“Untitled II” (detail) with Cleo Mayer

Studio with “Untitled IV” in progress




Shaped Using Precisely Cut Maps, Nikki Rosato's Busts and Portraits Connect Place, Memory, and Identity

November 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Nikki Rosato, shared with permission

Through mesh busts and delicate portraits, Nikki Rosato visualizes the connections between place and identity. The Washington, D.C.-based artist carves out the multi-colored highways and back roads from common maps, leaving the distances and spatial markings intact. She then shapes the cut paper into figurative sculptures and 2D artworks that vary in density and color depending on the original city or region.

Rosat utilizes the precise markings of cartography to highlight the complex, inner-workings of memory and belonging. “As we move through life, the places we inhabit and the people that we meet alter and shape us into the person that we are in the present day. I am interested in the idea that a place I visited as a child has affected the outcome of the person that I am today,” she says.

In a note to Colossal, the artist shares that she shifted her practice after her grandmother died in 2018. “I’ve taken the last few years to do a lot of research into my strong matriarchal lineage (my great grandmother literally walked hundreds of miles on foot with a 2-year-old to escape Lithuania in the early 1900s and then built our family in a small town in Pennsylvania),” she says, adding that her current projects consider the trajectory of these two figures’ lives.

Some of Rosato’s intricate works are available from Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, and you can follow her pieces on Artsy.





Artist Nari Ward Has Spent Decades Revitalizing Found Objects to Elucidate Counter Narratives

November 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

“We the People” (2011), shoelaces, 96 x 324 inches. All images courtesy Nari Ward and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London

Jamaica-born artist Nari Ward bases his practice in found objects and their inherent mutability. The Harlem-based artist has scoured New York City’s streets for 25 years gathering house keys escaped from a ring, discarded glass bottles, and clothing tossed season-to-season. Through sculptures and large-scale installations, the scavenged objects find new meaning, whether explicitly scribing a phrase from the United States Constitution or creating more subtle historical connections.

While commenting broadly on themes of race, poverty, and rampant consumerism, Ward is cognizant of the varied meanings burned wooden bats or shoelaces hold for different populations. No matter the medium, many of his works are site-specific in form and fluid in context, allowing the narratives to take new shapes as they travel from community to community.

His 1993 installation “Amazing Grace,” for example, originally was presented in Harlem in response to the AIDS crisis. The artist gathered lengths of fire hose and approximately 300 baby strollers to line the space’s perimeter, with some piled in a central area, as well. In New York City, houseless populations sometimes use the childcare item to carry their belongings, imbuing the objects with a specific message within that milieu. When “Amazing Grace” later traveled around Europe, the strollers were interpreted anew.


“Amazing Grace” (1993), approximately 300 baby strollers and fires hoses, sound, dimensions variable. Installation view, New Museum, New York (2019)

In a 2019 interview, Ward expanded on the inherent fluctuations within the symbols and objects he employs:

History tells a particular story, and I’m trying to say: ‘Yeah there is a particular story, but there are many stories that aren’t visible within that one created narrative.’ I think that it’s about bringing mystery into the conversation more so than facts. So the whole idea is bringing this marker, image, or form to the forefront, but at the same time destabilizing it so that it acts as a placeholder for other possibilities or somebody else’s narrative.

Ward is incredibly prolific, and in 2020 alone, his public artworks and installations have been shown in Hong Kong, Denver, New York City, Ghent, New York, and Ridgefield, Connecticut. To explore the artist’s projects further, check out his site and pick up a copy of Phaidon’s 2019 book, Nari Ward: We the People, which accompanied the 2019 New Museum retrospective of his early works.


“Spellbound” (2015), piano, used keys, Spanish moss, light, audio, and video elements, 52.5 x 60 x 28 inches. Photo by Max Yawney

“Spellbound” (2015), piano, used keys, Spanish moss, light, audio, and video elements, 52.5 x 60 x 28 inches. Photo by Max Yawney

“Geography: Bottle Messenger” (2002), bottles, letters, wire, and metal frame, 354.33 x 157.48 x 157.48 inches

“We the People” (2011), (detail), shoelaces, 96 x 324 inches

“Iron Heavens” (1995), oven pans, ironed sterilized cotton, and burnt wooden bats, 140 x 148 x 48 inches

“Amazing Grace” (1993), approximately 300 baby strollers and fires hoses, sound, dimensions variable. Installation view, New Museum, New York (2019)

“SoulSoil” (2011), earth, ceramic toilet fixtures, shoes, broom and mop handles, acrylic and polyurethane, approximately 236 x 236 x 236 inches. Photo by Agostino Osio

“SoulSoil” (2011) (detail), earth, ceramic toilet fixtures, shoes, broom and mop handles, acrylic and polyurethane, approximately 236 x 236 x 236 inches. Photo by Agostino Osio

“Mango Tourist” (2011), foam, battery canisters, Sprague Electric Company resistors and capacitors, and mango pits, 8 figures, each approximately 120 inches in height. In collaboration with MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts



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