Animator Siqi Song explores the deeply personal implications of China’s One Child Policy in her powerful animated short, SISTER. The film uses felt stop-motion animation to tell the story of a family that conceived two children during the years—1979 to 2015—that the Chinese government controlled the number of children families could raise. An adult man, the film’s protagonist, looks back on his youth and the complicated family dynamics among siblings and parents.
“Growing up with my brother has been a privilege and a bittersweet experience for me,” Song explains. She shares that, being an exception to the rule, she has been the subject of many questions from friends about the experience of growing up with a sibling. “I also want to tell the stories of my friends, who would’ve had a different life if their siblings were born,” says Song. “This film is dedicated to this group memory.”
The Los Angeles-based director and animator has worked on several of her own highly lauded shorts, as well as on the feature film Missing Link. Watch more of Song’s films on her website (where she also shares behind-the-scenes shots), and follow along with new projects on Instagram. (via Short of the Week)
Share this story
London-based photographer Tim Flach travels the world capturing the nuanced expressions, unique patterning, and unusual profiles of animals large and small. Often focusing his lens on endangered and vulnerable species, Flach highlights the traits of animals that are at risk of disappearing due to habitat loss, climate change, and human activity. The photographer has worked with a huge range of wild, domestic, and captive animals, from Saiga and Beluga Sturgeons to Pied Tamarin and Pangolin.
Set on plain backdrops à la studio portraits, Flach’s bird photographs particularly stand out. His sharp, clear portraits show the colorful and wildly shaped feathers and beak of birds from the U.S. to the Himalayas. A stately Jacobian Pigeon, its two-toned ruff of feathers framing a white-crested face, seems to peer elegantly at the view, while an assertive cardinal stares pointedly, a white highlight glinting off the hook in the bird’s red beak. A statement on his website explains the relatable emotional quality of his work:
Tim Flach is an animal photographer with an interest in the way humans shape animals and shape their meaning while exploring the role of imagery in fostering an emotional connection. Bringing to life the complexity of the animal kingdom, his work ranges widely across species, united by a distinctive stylization reflecting an interest in how we better connect people to the natural world.
Flach has published several books of his photography: one is centered around endangered animals, while others are species-specific, celebrating horses or dogs. You can explore the artist’s catalog as well as several galleries of animal portraits on his website, and follow him on Instagram for first glimpses of new work.
Share this story
Washington-based artist and researcher Heidi Gustafson forages, processes, and catalogs natural mineral samples for the Early Futures Ocher Archive. Ranging in color based on its elemental structure, ochre is crushed into a powder and used in various applications from art to medicine. With over 550 samples, Gustafson’s ever-growing archive has become a collaborative project with contributions from archaeologists, scientists, and creatives from around the world.
As each sample enters the collection, it is labeled with a corresponding number. In a notebook, Gustafson records where the ochre is from, who sourced or collected it, any historic or contemporary uses, and other relevant information. Gustafson grinds the iron-rich ochre into pigments, which she sells to artists and also uses for her own work. Processed samples are added to glass vials and organized by region or dominate mineral type. Gustafson also considers the material for its artistic, spiritual, and scientific properties. “More importantly, I build a relationship to the materials,” she tells Colossal. “I’m trying to understand their unique behaviors, the microbial communities they host and support, their tonal ranges, their historical uses and many other diverse features.”
The archive was officially formed in 2017 when Gustafson relocated to the Pacific Northwest, but working with the material is more than a hobby or intellectual pursuit—it is a calling. After having a dream about ochre, she initially wrote it off. Other experiences and anxieties about climate change inspired her to research exactly what ochre was and what it was used for. “I realized that ochre and pigments were at the heart of art and aesthetic experience,” Gustafson tells Colossal, adding that the mineral has been linked to complex mental processing in modern homo sapiens. “Protecting ochre’s vast capacities and impact on human creativity, feels like Earth’s mandate to me,” Gustafson continued. “I didn’t ‘come up’ with the idea for this project, it came to me and I felt responsible to do my best to understand and listen to that call.”
To tag along on foraging trips and for updates on the archive, follow Heidi Gustafson on Instagram. To shop for pigment sets and other products from the project or to contribute samples of your own, visit the Early Futures website.
Share this story
Photographer Emily Paxton and artist Pam Glew of PaxtonGlew have curated an exhibition of tiny houses, stores, and train cars that is unlike your typical model village. Instead of pristine new buildings, each model is hand-painted with graffiti and colorful murals. Together the miniatures form a well-worn city from the collective imagination of over 40 urban contemporary artists from around the world.
Titled Urban Miniatures, the pop-up opened on November 23, 2019 as a part of the Artists Open Houses Christmas Festival in Brighton, England. The roster of artists tapped to contribute include train-writers, muralists, designers, and painters, most of whom typically work at a much larger scale. From an optical illusion mural painted on a mini hotel by Peeta (previously), to architectural jewelry by Tiny Scenic, the scale of each piece in the exhibition forces the viewer to look more closely and appreciate the details. That level of intimacy is not always possible when a piece is ten stories tall or speeding down a track.
For those able to visit Brighton, Urban Miniatures is scheduled to run through December 22, 2019. The curators are also offering miniature-themed workshops for those who visit the gallery space. Limited edition prints, models, and other art gifts are also available via their online store. For more information, follow @paxtonglew on Instagram.
Share this story
Rachel Lopez has a thing with… taxi ceilings. Instead of joining the 200,000+ Instagram posts hashtagged #ihavethisthingwithfloors, the lifelong Mumbai resident flips her phone’s camera into selfie mode. Lopez documents the vast array of eccentric plastic patterns covering the ceilings of her hailed rides, many of them taken in her frequent trips around the city as a journalist with the Hindustan Times.
Mumbai is home to about 58,000 metered taxis, and each one seems to feature a totally different interior aesthetic. Though many of the cars themselves are the same model, drivers often line the ceiling with colorful patterned plastic or vinyl to protect the easily-stained felt fabric. She prefers the traditional taxis to the newer influx of startup ride shares, despite the unpredictability of independent operators, who may decline a trip depending on the destination. Since April 2017, Lopez has been collecting consistently framed photos to track the diversity of designs she encounters.
“I live for the day a driver shows interest in my collection. Most of them, when I compliment them, merely grunt in acknowledgement,” Lopez tells Colossal. “They’re determinedly uninterested, for some reason. But a few of them will indulgently smile and get on with the ride. In Mumbai, if you’re a solo woman commuter, the driver is much more interested in whether you’re married, Indian politics, and how much money a journalist makes.”
As she continues her to add to her simple yet infinite collection, Lopez has enjoyed connecting with others. She displayed one hundred of her photos this February at Kala Ghoda Festival, which is Asia’s largest street festival for the arts. “I was keen to show on the street, not in a sanitized gallery, so everyday crowds could appreciate them,” says Lopez. “The response was overwhelming! The sheer diversity and number of designs are a surprise even to lifelong Mumbai residents (even I’m shocked that I still find new ones two years into the project). It’s one of the most gratifying outcomes of the series—being able to share with my beloved city the pictures I’d been quietly taking.”
Share this story
Beadwork artist Myrlande Constant has spent nearly three decades honing the craft of her intricate flag tableaux. Often spanning six or seven feet, the large-scale flags feature religious, historical, and mythological scenes, surrounded by a beaded “frame” of abstract patterns or symbolic objects. Constant hails from from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where she continues to live and work. The artist learned the art form her mother, who was a factory worker at a local wedding dress manufacturer that created beaded garments. Apparently, several other women who were employed at the factory also created artwork in the Vodou flag tradition outside of work hours.
Constant was recently commissioned to create a new work, one of her largest to date, for Faena Hotel in Miami, Florida. It will be displayed, along with several of her other flags, during Faena Festival, a free series of events and installation running December 2 – 8, 2019, alongside Miami Art Week. Learn more about Constant’s work in a Huffington Post article by Wesleyan University.
Share this story
A Miniature Magazine Penned by Teenage Charlotte Brontë is (Finally) Acquired by the Famous Author’s Namesake Museum
It’s often said that even the most successful people start small. What they probably don’t mean, though, is that to become an author equal to the timeless stature of Charlotte Brontë, you should pen a miniature magazine first. Yet Brontë did just that: in 1830, at age fourteen, she hand-wrote six issues of a petite periodical, one of which recently came up at auction for $777,000. The Young Men’s Magazine was a matchbook-sized series including stories and even advertisements of Brontë’s devising.
The Brontë Society placed the winning bid to acquire Brontë’s magazine, wresting it back from the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts, a now-shuttered for-profit (and fraud-ridden) venture that nabbed it in 2011. Learn more about the history and significance of The Young Men’s Magazine in the video below, which features Ann Dinsdale, the curator of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, England.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.