Illustration

Celestial Illustrations by Diana Sudyka Fill a New Book Celebrating 19th Century Astronomer Maria Mitchell

October 11, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

A new book written by Hayley Barrett and illustrated by Diana Sudyka (previously) celebrates the life of pioneering 19th century astronomer Maria Mitchell. Mitchell was America’s first professional female astronomer and taught at Vassar College (a single-sex institution at the time). She also used her platform as an internationally renowned scientist to advance women’s rights and abolition. What Miss Mitchell Saw tells the story of Mitchell’s life, geared toward young readers with lush, star-filled illustrations that intermingle celestial shapes and patterns throughout the story’s earthbound elements.

“I immediately was struck by the beauty of Barrett’s writing, and her deep respect for Maria Mitchell was very apparent,” illustrator Diana Sudyka tells Colossal. “It was also important to me is as a manuscript about the power of observation, and a woman in science at a time when there were very few, and even less being recognized for their contributions.” The artist shares that she didn’t know much about Mitchell at the start of the project, but learned through research how Nantucket whaling culture and the Quaker faith shaped Mitchell’s character and point of view.

Sudyka used india ink, gouache, watercolor, and handmade indigo to build the imagery for What Miss Mitchell Saw. The artist works by hand and in full color from the get-go, and uses some digital techniques at the end of the editing process, once the images are ready to be integrated into the book. To complement the artist’s established aesthetic, which naturally meshed with the storyline, Sudyka tells Colossal that she drew inspiration from scrimshaw (decorative and narrative carvings into whale bones by whalers), as well as Rockwell Kent’s illustrations for an edition of Moby Dick. “The biggest challenge for working on this book was simply finding good reference material to make sure I got the look and feel of Nantucket and that time period right,” Sudyka explains.

In addition to her work as a children’s book illustrator, Sudyka has volunteered at the Field Museum of Natural History’s bird lab for over a decade, and is drawn to science and natural history. You can see more of the artist’s work on Instagram and find prints in her online store. What Miss Mitchell Saw was published last month by Simon and Shuster, and is available on Amazon.

Scrimshaw (resin replica), photo: Diana Sudyka

Scrimshaw (resin replica), photo: Diana Sudyka

Concept sketches by Diana Sudyka, courtesy of the artist

 

 



Art Design Science

Honey Bees Complete Mixed Media Artworks by Building Comb Around Embroidery Hoops

October 11, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Artist Ava Roth loves working on collaborative projects. But her studiomates aren’t fellow two-footed friends. Rather, Roth pairs with her backyard honeybees to create mixed media collages combining embroidery, beadwork, fabric, tree bark, and honeycomb. The Toronto-based artist builds artworks inside the comb frames, and the bees complete the pieces by encasing them in organic honeycomb patterns. “This project is a collaboration in the truest sense. It involves careful listening, respecting the bees, and cooperating with them entirely, from the choice of materials, size, timing and scope of design,” Roth tells Colossal. “My intention is to celebrate the extraordinary work of the honeybee and match it with sewings that invoke their delicate and ephemeral comb.”

The artist explains that she had been working in encaustic, a painting technique that incorporates wax, for several years, and decided to start collaborating with her bees as she learned more about Colony Collapse Disorder and sought to uplift and honor the bee’s work.

The threadwork in this collection mirrors the fragility and beauty of the honeycomb in which they are encased. By placing the embroideries in hoops, I am also giving a nod to a tradition of women’s work. Since the working bees are all female – and not making ‘fine art’, the finished pieces are very much in the tradition of marginalized women’s work, and sewing in particular. Because both the bees work and traditional women’s work have been largely functional, their beauty and significance have been easily overlooked.

Roth tells Colossal that it took a great deal of trial and error to solve for the variables like what materials the bees respond to instead of destroying, how long to keep the pieces in the hive before honey is deposited, and conveying to the insects which areas they should or shouldn’t build comb. The artist shares that she worked closely with Master Beekeeper Mylee Nordin on strategizing and implementing the project. Shown here are works from her abstract series; Roth also works in this mode with more representational images, which you can see on her website.

Ava Roth is represented by Loop Gallery in Toronto, Wallspace Gallery in Ottawa and Frederick Holmes and Company in Seattle. You can keep up with more of her interspecies collaborations on Instagram.

 

 



Animation

Next-Level Cardistry is Showcased in a Clever New Stop Motion Animation by Omozoc

October 10, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Stop motion animator omozoc (previously) evokes the astonishing cardistry of poker dealers in a new short film. Aptly titled “Legendary Poker Dealer,” the short starts off with classic suave moves to deal and sort cards. As the animation continues, omozoc’s tricks become more and more intricate, and eventually start to veer towards the unbelievable. Watch through til the end for a fun surprise, and be sure to have the sound on to enjoy the audio effects. See more from the anonymous animator on YouTube.

 

 



Design Food

Edible Apparel by Sung Yeonju Turns Vegetables into Cocktail Dresses

October 10, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“Tasteful dress” gets a whole new meaning in Sung Yeonju’s edible apparel. The Korean artist’s ongoing series, Wearable Foods, combines relatable materials with digital editing to form cocktail dresses, shorts, and blazers. Gracefully draped scallions, polka-dotted lotus roots, and subtly striped banana peels become unique ‘fabrics’ suited for a night on the town. Watch Sung turn produce into fashion in the behind-the-scenes video below. (via Trendland)

 

 



Animation

Natural History Museum: A Snarky Celebration of Anthropology and Chicken Wings by Kirsten Lepore

October 9, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Using stop motion animation and her signature blend of the banal and bizarre, animator Kirsten Lepore (previously) plays with universal human traits in her new short, “Natural History Museum.” The animated film highlights the readiness with which we condescend to cultures from the past, as well as the deliciousness of chicken wings, through the lens of two characters whose identities shift over time. See more from Lepore on Vimeo and pick up swag inspired by her animations in her Society6 store.

 

 

 



Photography

Lavish Portraits by Lakin Ogunbanwo Document the Contemporary Traditions of Nigerian Brides

October 9, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

All photographs by Lakin Ogunbanwo, courtesy of Niki Cryan Gallery

Photographer Lakin Ogunbanwo creates colorful portraits of Nigerian women that are simultaneously majestic and dreamy. Set against gauzy draped backdrops, Ogunbanwo’s subjects are dressed for bridal ceremonies in vibrant lace bodices, sculptural headdresses, and embellished tulle veils. In a statement on the series, the artist describes his use of veiled portraiture “to document the complexity of his culture, and counteract the West’s monolithic narratives of Africa and women.” The series, titled e wá wo mi (“come look at me”), documents “the traditional ceremonial wear of the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa-Fulani tribes, amongst others. Rather than objectively archive these as past-traditions, however, he mimics the pageantry of weddings in present Nigeria.”

e wá wo mi is currently on view at Niki Cryan Gallery, in tandem with another of Ogunbanwo’s series, Are We Good Enough. The exhibition runs from October 14 to November 3, 2019 in Lagos, Nigeria. The photographer’s work has also been featured in The New Yorker and The New York Times, as well as the Grid Photo Biennial in Cape Town, South Africa. See more of Ogunbanwo’s stylized portraiture on Instagram.

 

 



Art Craft

Celestial Beadwork by Margaret Nazon Depicts the Universe in Stylized Stitches

October 9, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Margaret Nazon has spent the past decade building intricate beadwork depictions of outer space. The colorful artworks, which balance representational and stylized aesthetics, are set on black fabric backgrounds and depict galaxies, planets, and nebulae. Initially inspired by images taken by the Hubble space telescope, Nazon’s celestial renderings are part of a life-long interest in beading. In an interview with Glenbow, the artist shared that she began beading at age 10, but found the density of traditional beadwork to be tedious.

The abstract nature of celestial images allows Nazon to be more interpretive and incorporate different materials like caribou bones and willow seeds, that have location-specific or cultural significance. Nazon is Tsiigehtchic, part of the Gwich’in community in what is now the Northwest Territories of Canada. The artist explained to Glenbow that because she is retired, she is able to dedicate significant portions of time to beading, and often rises at 4:30 to begin working. Nazon plans to continue experimenting, including merging her abstract beadwork with her seamstress skills to create artfully embellished apparel.

Nazon’s artwork was most recently exhibited at Glenbow in a group show, Cosmos, and A Beaded Universe at Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. You can read more about her in the Glenbow interview, and explore Nazon’s portfolio on her website. (via Brainpickings)