Craft Food

Fibrous Kale, Broccoli, and Beans Grow From Incredibly Realistic Three-Dimensional Embroideries

June 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Konekono Kitsune, shared with permission

A glimpse into Konekono Kitsune’s workspace in Tokyo likely resembles a farmer’s market stand more than a fiber studio. Using countless layers of thread and the occasional felt base, the artist stitches curly kale, collard greens, and other fare that bear a striking likeness to their real-life counterparts: dense tufts in green form broccoli florets, a broad bean pod splits open to reveal a soft downy inside, and tight rows line the undulating surface of a sweet potato.

In a note to Colossal, Konekono Kitsune shares that their grandmother frequently embroidered, although they only began working in the medium a few years ago. “I’m not a farmer, and I’m not particularly good at cooking. I happened to embroider vegetables and got convinced. Embroidery threads are great for expressing vegetable fibers,” they say.

For more of the artist’s produce-based works, visit Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Luxuriant Tufted Portraits by Artist Simone Elizabeth Saunders Exude Black Joy

June 7, 2022

Gabrielle Lawrence

“Excellence” (2021), hand-tufted velvet, acrylic, and wool yarn on rug warp, 152.4 x 152.4 x 1.5 centimeters. All images © Simone Elizabeth Saunders, shared with permission

Simone Elizabeth Saunders’ love-based practice adds its own texture to the magic of Black joy and resilience. On Instagram, she writes:

I celebrate the wins. I know the darkness in this world, so do you. It can drag us down. And when I post, positive messaging is key for me. To share light and love and to look at the world as vibrant and colourful as it can be….It’s reflected in my textiles, to uplift narratives often tethered to dark undertones, with the gift of bright hues. I’m not asking anyone to “smile”, because life will hurt. But hold onto your light… keep grasp of your love.

For Saunders (previously), celebrating love is not grand, abstract, or impossible to grasp. It’s as honest as a single strand of thread. Close-ups of her textiles, rug-tufting, and punch-needle works reveal what it means to paint with fabric—that is, to embrace the fluidity of color and create intricacy in its different shades, not taking the versatility or collective power of the individual pieces for granted. The artist’s attention to detail adds depth, dynamism, and life to each scene so that the subjects are captured in their full essence.

 

Left: “Queen of Spades.” Right: “Queen of Diamonds”

In The Four Queens, Saunders draws on the tradition of Art Nouveau, a period of art history specifically concerned with capturing feminine beauty and radiance. Though the artist felt an attraction to the 18th-century tradition, she couldn’t form a genuine bond with the material because of its severe underrepresentation. The heart of these whimsical scenes, the epitome of angelic beauty, was often a white face. And so, Saunders set out to create her own style: Black Nouveau.

In this approach, the essence of beauty is “Black Dreams,” “Black Power,” “Black Love,” and “Black Magic.” Powerful prints that paint the skies of each scene are reminiscent of African motifs in which stories are told through patterns and color. Saunders keeps true to her roots here and offers a connection in a genre that’s typically been limited.

Works like “Excellence” show that the gaze is the point of entry and also the home of Black liberation; where it is nurtured, where it grows, and where we are known. Whether it’s the kind expression of the “Queen of Diamonds” slouching loosely on her throne or the peering side-eye of the “Queen of Hearts,” Saunder’s works emanate the femininity, leadership, power, and joy of Black womanhood.

 

The Four Queens at Contemporary Calgary (2022)

Left: Detail of “Queen of Hearts.” Right: Detail of “Queen of Diamonds”

“Queen of Clubs”

Detail of “Queen of Spades”

“Queen of Hearts”

Detail of “Queen of Clubs”

 

 



Colossal

Get Our Art & Culture Favorites from London and Chicago Directly to Your Inbox

June 7, 2022

Colossal

Left: Felipe Pantone’s “Quick Tide” in London. Top right: Gray Malin’s photo of Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” in Chicago. Bottom right: CoExistence’s elephant herd in London

Make your weekend plans with us! Each Thursday, we send out our favorite art and culture events around Chicago and London, including exhibition openings, artist talks, and other fun happenings. We also share news about our partnerships, where to see art featured on Colossal, and words from our friends. Sign up here to get this week’s edition directly to your inbox.

If you have an event you’d like us to consider or are interested in sponsoring these newsletters, submit your idea to [email protected].

 

 



Art History Science

Interview: Heidi Gustafson Recounts Establishing an Archive Preserving Hundreds of Humanity’s Oldest Art Materials

June 7, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Heidi Gustafson, Early Futures, shared with permission

The word ochre tends to be associated with the warm brownish-yellow color, although it also refers to the physical substance that once removed from the earth, crushed, and combined with liquid, becomes paint. In a new interview supported by Colossal Members, we speak to forager, artist, and researcher Heidi Gustafson, who established the Early Futures Ochre Sanctuary in 2017 and has since amassed hundreds of samples of these pigments.

When you get into the nature of color (akin to tracing food from farm to table), you start to realize color symbolism has a lot of direct, solid foundations in geomorphology. Red that feels “intense or energizing” is often made of 500 million-year-old ancient volcano spew. Yellow that is “sunny” might be ochre made by spring sunlight interacting with microbes to create fresh iron hydroxide. Blue that feels “mournful or spiritual” could be made from vivianite (iron phosphate) forming in dead bodies.

In this conversation, Gustafson speaks about Early Futures, its evolution, and what it’s meant to work with a substance with such a rich and lengthy history. She discusses the multi-sensory and sometimes uncanny nature of her process, the threat the climate crisis poses to the earth’s stores, and how ochre’s legacy reaches far beyond its alluring color.

 

 

 



Art

Otherworldly Vistas and Noble Portraits Celebrate Life’s Mysteries in Sherman Beck’s Vibrant Paintings

June 6, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Portrait of Shirley Chisholm” (2022). All images © Sherman Beck, courtesy of Kavi Gupta and shared with permission

One of the original ten members of the groundbreaking Chicago-based artist collective AFRICOBRA founded in 1968, Sherman Beck paints vibrant portrayals of Black family, ancestry, and community that celebrate the wonder and mysticism of everyday life. In a retrospective at Kavi Gupta, paintings made during the past five decades explore themes of cultural identity, multidimensional time and space, and the origins of life.

In Ancestors, a series of untitled works from the 1990s, Beck juxtaposes traditional African masks, labeled as if in a museum display, alongside contemporary Black faces. He challenges the viewer’s perception of reality and the imagination, combining realistic characteristics with vividly patterned backgrounds or portraying visages in bold geometric abstraction. The subjects of his portraits, which include historical figures such as Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress, or Frederick Douglass, the national abolitionist leader and social reformer, always gaze directly at the viewer.

Through symbolic motifs such as winding paths, all-seeing eyes, and contrasts between light and dark, Beck explores continuity across time periods and the human desire to understand how and why we exist. He questions the nature of revealing and concealing, oscillating between representational portraits, bold abstraction, and otherworldly interiors and landscapes that open up into enigmatic cosmic vistas.

Beck’s retrospective continues at Kavi Gupta in Chicago through July 30.

 

“Ancestors” (c. 1990)

“Ancestors” (2005)

“Time” (2022)

“The Boat” (2012)

“Eyes” (2022)

“Immersed” (2022)

“Sunrise/Sunset” (2012/2017)

“Untitled” (2022)

 

 

 



Art

Dreams Emanate from Sleeping Children in Lena Guberman’s Imaginative Ceramic Sculptures

June 6, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Lena Guberman, shared with permission

A mass of unruly curls, scaly bodies, and motifs painted in red cradle the sleeping children in Lena Guberman’s ceramics. Lying in the center of round plates, the young characters are suspended in states of slumber, their joys, anxieties, and formative experiences flowing from their resting bodies. “I was an introverted child, compensating for my loneliness with dreams and fantasies. I had a feeling that there is a creature protecting me from anything bad that can happen,” the Israel-based artist tells Colossal. “I think those visions came to me when sculpting.”

Primarily illustrating picture books, editorial pieces, and animations, Guberman began working with ceramics a few years ago, although only recently returned to the medium as a reprieve from her otherwise two-dimensional practice. Part of her growing sculpture collection, the plates shown here reflect her imaginative style and similarly capture the expressive, whimsical qualities of her drawings.

Guberman shares an archive of her works on Behance and Instagram.