Art Design Illustration

The First USPS Stamp Designed by an Alaska Native Artist Features a Trickster Raven as It Steals the Sun

February 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Raven Story.” Image courtesy of U.S.P.S.

When it’s released later this summer, a new stamp from the U.S. Postal Service will illuminate a piece of Indigenous culture that’s long been associated with an escape from darkness. Titled “Raven Story,” the history-making postage features an iconic animal rendered by Rico Lanáat’ Worl, who is the first Tlingit and Athabascan artist to be featured by U.S.P.S. Awash with twinkling stars, the stamp portrays a black bird grasping the sun in its beak as it breaks from its human family. The motif is based on the story of “Raven And The Box Of Daylight,” traditional Tlingit lore about the trickster animal bringing the stars, moon, and sun to the universe after a series of heists.

In a statement, Worl shares that the raven is a prominent figure in Tlinglit culture, and the stamp depicts the pinnacle of this often-recounted tale. He writes:

Raven is trying to grab as many stars as he can, some stuck in his feathers and in his hands or in his beak. Some falling around him. It’s a frazzled moment of adrenaline. Partially still in human form, as depicted as his hand still being human, as he carries the stars away. I think it depicts a moment we all have experienced, the cusp of failure and accomplishment.

Worl lives in Juneau, where he works with Sealaska Heritage Institute and co-runs Trickster Company, a design shop focused on Northwest Coast art, with his sister, Crystal. To coincide with the USPS launch, he plans to create pins, prints, and other goods featuring the design, which you can follow on Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)

 

 



Art

Elegantly Subversive Paintings Position Somber Women in the Throes of Domestic Struggle

February 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

“None of These Clocks Work (I)” (2020), oil on canvas, 48 x 40 inches. All images © Chidinma Nnoli, courtesy of Rele Gallery, shared with permission

In her poetic body of work, Chidinma Nnoli draws on her experiences growing up in a patriarchal, Catholic home. It “felt very stifling, and I existed in an environment of anxiety and fear where it felt uneasy to relax,” says the 22-year-old Nigerian artist. She channels these memories into her acrylic- and oil-based artworks that are simultaneously ethereal and subversive, distinctly centering on somber, unsmiling women and their hazy environments rendered in pastels.

Subtle comments on a variety of cultural issues pervade Nnoli’s paintings, including the trappings of diet culture, impossible beauty standards, and how many widespread societal beliefs impact mental health. In some pieces, these themes are apparent in the women’s facial expressions, gestures, and vintage clothing. High necklines or collars, lace details, and puffy sleeves cloak their bodies in a manner that evokes traditional values like innocence and modesty in works like “A Poetry of Discarded Feelings/Things (III).” Other paintings, like “None of These Clocks Work (I),” center on a subject wearing a corset, which contorts womens’ bodies into the idealized hourglass.

 

“If Grey Walls Could Talk (III)” (2020), 54 x 48 inches

Whether alone or in a pair, the figures are demure, solemn, and depicted at home amongst impasto backgrounds. The quiet, humble scenes are filled with indistinguishable artworks, bouquets of flowers or plants, and sofas, customary domestic elements that allow Nnoli to tease out an implied tension. The women, she says, exist in “spaces that are supposed to be safe yet it’s toxic and they somehow can’t get out… I try to create a safe environment using flowers, a space that is almost dreamlike, a utopia where they can heal, even if it’s only happening in their heads (until) they find their own safe space.”

Nnoli currently is living in Lagos and has work on view at Rele Gallery in Los Angeles. Follow her elegant, thought-provoking work on Instagram and Artsy.

 

“Nkem” (2020), 36 x 40

“If Grey Walls Could Talk” (2020), oil on Canvas, 48 x 40 inches

“Daughter (Nwa Nwanyi)” (2020), 24 x 30 inches from the Saint Series (Onye Di Aso)

“A Poetry of Discarded Feelings/Things (III)” (2020), acrylic and oil on canvas, 42 x 50 inches

 

 



Design

Tokyo's Kadokawa Culture Museum Houses an Arresting Kengo Kuma-Designed Bookshelf Theater

February 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © RK, shared with permission

Although it boasts more than 50,000 books, the massive library at the heart of the Kadokawa Culture Museum (previously) isn’t just for bibliophiles or curious readers hoping to stumble upon a new title. Designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma (previously), the towering venue is more accurately billed as a cultural gathering space than a traditional book collection, which Ryosuke Kosuge, who works as RK, recently documented a new series of photographs.

Just months after its opening, the Tokyo-area library already has hosted a variety of music and theater performances, with the staggered shelving and metal walkways serving as a backdrop. Many of the events—which you can see photographs of on Kadokawa’s Instagram—utilized the available projection mapping technology and embedded screens, creating immersive experiences that illuminate the largely wood-lined space with a candy-colored glow.

To see the multi-purpose venue from above, watch this drone tour, and find more of RK’s architectural photographs capturing city life on Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

All images © RK, shared with permission

All images © RK, shared with permission

All images © RK, shared with permission

All images © RK, shared with permission

All images © RK, shared with permission

 

 



Photography

Contorted Limbs and Bodies Disrupt the Mundane in Surreal Photographs by Cristina Coral

February 18, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Cristina Coral, shared with permission

Photographer Cristina Coral has an eye for subtle alterations that transform seemingly ordinary scenes into surreal images brimming with illusion. Often centered on a solitary woman, the conceptual photographs rely on texture, pattern, and the figures’ contorted poses. A limp hand protrudes from a bush, strawberry locks drape over a brocade couch, and a teacup precariously balances on a pair of feet.

Coral, who is based in Italy but frequently travels to Germany and Slovenia, currently is working on a project based on memory and what’s forgotten. The mixed-media works, some of which she’s shared on Instagram, fuse photographs and textiles in a way that allows portions of the original image to peek through.

If you’re in Paris, Coral’s deftly composed works will be included in a group exhibition at the Decorative Arts Museum this summer. Until then, take a virtual tour of the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition, which includes a few of Coral’s pieces, and explore hundreds of her photographs on her site.

 

 

 



Illustration

Fantastical Cartoons, Robotic Pets, and Vibrant Architecture Populate Digital Illustrations by Ori Toor

February 18, 2021

Grace Ebert

“David and the Sphinx”

In Ori Toor’s Gibberish universe, it’s not uncommon to see bulbous cartoon creatures, leaves sprouting from pockets of machinery, or tunnels wrapped in rainbows. Set against solid backdrops, the digitally rendered dreamlands are teeming with fantastical elements and whimsy as Toor plays with scale and shape, planting a yellow pyramid or robotic cat on varying planes. Each drawing evolves naturally, a process Toor likens to creating a “Rorschach painting and trying to figure out what you’re seeing and then continuing work. I’m not sure what I’m trying to convey until the piece is done. I think mostly it’s me trying to feel safe in the world.”

Toor is based in Tel Aviv, and you can find a growing collection of his Gibberish series on Behance. Prints, masks, and other products featuring his illustrations are available from Society6.

 

“Lolopoola”

“Mirrrorrr”

“Gibberish Hubris”

“The Memory of Tommy Teacher”

 

 



Art

Fiery Crayon Sculptures and Busts by Herb Williams Confront the Climate Crisis

February 18, 2021

Grace Ebert

“First Fire.” All images © Herb Williams, by Hannah Deits, shared with permission

Herb Williams addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time—uncontrollable fires, hurricanes, and an impending lack of natural resources, to name a few—through an unusually playful medium. The Nashville-based artist creates colorful sculptures and busts from innumerable crayons, assembling textured works that simultaneously display the ubiquitous childhood tool while confronting the ongoing effects of the climate crisis.

Similar to the large-scale flames he created in response to Texas wildfires nearly a decade ago, Williams’ new pieces, like the river-stone-encircled campfire above, are based in collective experience. He writes:

The epic catastrophes, disasters, and pandemic are virtually impossible to navigate as adults, so I am trying to create works that will help children understand and eventually deal, most hopefully solve what we can’t one day. I’m exploring the myths we cling to comfort, deny or manage our way through without losing our collective humanity.

“First Fire” pairs with Three Graces of Climate Change, a trio of figurative sculptures that reinterpret the “Venus de Milo” through the lenses of wildfires, glacial melt, and deforestation. In one piece, bright blazes erupt from the shoulder and hip, and in another, the figure is sliced in two to reveal age rings similar to those of a tree.

Williams currently is working on six sculptures that’ll be on display at Atlanta International Airport. He’s also the curator at Nashville’s Rymer Gallery, where you can find a larger collection of his works.

 

“Venus of Wildfires”

“Venus of Glacial Melt”

“Venus of Deforestation”