Photography Science

Photographer Levon Biss Illuminates the Strange, Otherworldly Chrysalises of Butterfly Pupae

November 4, 2022

Grace Ebert

A photo of 30 butterfly pupae

All images © Levon Biss, shared with permission

A photographer known for using the macro to investigate the micro, Levon Biss (previously) continues his explorations into the vast world of entomology. His recent butterfly pupae series centers on “the diversity of design and form” through illuminating portraits of approximately 30 specimens as they undergo metamorphosis and complete the final, most vulnerable stage of the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Otherworldly and bordering on the bizarre, many of the chrysalises have evolved to be deceptive in appearance, acting as necessary camouflage from potential predators by impersonating nearby plants and surroundings: some mimic the natural, like those that imitate a rotting plantain or mossy hunk of bark, while others are more artful, like those spotted with Kusama-esque dots or cloaked in a mirrored gold coating. The photographs are “intended to be both entertaining and educational,” Biss shares, “allowing the viewer to appreciate the diversity in the subject whilst appreciating the intricate details that evolution has created.”

Pick up a print of the unearthly images, and find more from the collection on Biss’s site and Instagram. If you’re in New York, you can also see his Extinct and Endangered series at the American Museum of Natural History.

 

A photo of a butterfly pupa that looks like a plantain

A photo of a butterfly pupa with black dots

Two photos of green butterfly pupae

A photo of a butterfly pupa that looks like mossy bark

Two photos of butterfly pupae that are brown and green

A photo of a butterfly pupa that looks like mirrored gold

 

 

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Art

Diverse Ecosystems Merge in Hyperrealistic Paintings of Flora and Fauna by Lisa Ericson

November 4, 2022

Kate Mothes

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a deer standing on a reef of coral.

“High Tide” (2022), acrylic on panel. All images © Lisa Ericson, shared with permission

Ecosystems intermingle and mammals find themselves immersed in an increasingly watery world in Lisa Ericson’s hyperrealistic acrylic paintings. A hare and a mountain goat, which would typically be found in dry climates or high elevations, stand atop a small island of cacti or rock in an ongoing series of works that view the climate crisis—especially the impending rise of sea levels—through a lens of magical realism.

Drawing on the artistic legacy of chiaroscuro, or contrast between the bright figures and deep background, Ericson’s compositions appear as if a spotlight has been directed on the scene to highlight unusual interactions, such as a fox ferrying bluebirds across a waterway or a mountain goat stranded on a submerged rocky peak. Furthering the notion that environmental change cannot be ignored, the titles speak to witnessing immense change, experiencing a sense of foreboding, and heeding warnings.

You can see some of Ericson’s recent works on view at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon, through November 20, and find more on her website and Instagram.

 

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a fox wading through water with numerous bluebirds on its back.

“Risky Business” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a hare and a bird on top of a cactus, which surfaces from the water.

“Late Warning” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a mountain goat standing half-submerged in water on top of a rock with fish at its feet.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson featuring a fish with fins that look like coral and two other fish.

“Shelter in Place” (2022), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a fox with moss and fungi growing on its back.

“Wake Me When It’s Over” (2020), acrylic on panel

An acrylic painting by Lisa Ericson of a red squirrel on top of a turtle's back.

“Treading Water” (2022), acrylic on panel

 

 



Colossal Design

Interview: Jessica Oreck of the Office of Collecting & Design On Her Enormous Museum of Miniatures

November 4, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Jessica Oreck, shared with permission

In Las Vegas, the Office of Collecting & Design is a haven for the minute, the small objects that have been broken, separated from their partners, or grown obsolete and somehow found their way into the hands of Jessica Oreck. Today, the museum of miniatures houses countless objects from handmade sushi smaller than a pushpin and a teeny-tiny tube of Colgate to stone marbles and limbs detached from toy figures.

I see each object as being stitched together with the fabric of both its creator and all its previous caretakers. I try to preserve that connection while still keeping the object accessible for new interactions, new connections, even if that means the physicality of the object may degrade. The collections aren’t frozen behind glass. They are very much still a part of a living, breathing existence.—Jessica Oreck

Oreck speaks in this interview about the origin of the ever-expanding collection of miniatures, how respect and intuition ground her approach to the objects, and the mysterious story behind one of the strangest items she’s encountered.

Read the interview and see the collection.

 

 

 



Art

Delicately Carved Wood Engravings Are Transformed into Dreamlike Paintings by Matt Roussel

November 3, 2022

Kate Mothes

A wood engraving by Matt Roussel featuring a face in the silhouette of a cat with flowers and a snake.

All images © Matt Roussel, shared with permission

Characterized by the use of specialized tools called burins, gravers, or gouges to carve thin, elegant lines, wood engraving developed in the late 18th century to produce more precise detail than earlier techniques. For French artist Matt Roussel, the linear forms created on the surface of linoleum or wood are just as compelling as the prints that can be made from them. In his series of mounted printing blocks, he highlights the curving textures of lilies sprouting from a scarab beetle or leaves emanating from the body of a trotting horse.

Roussel first sketches directly onto the material and then carefully guides the gouge to produce markings that he likens to brushstrokes. While he often prints black-and-white multiples from the engravings, he began adding acrylic paint to the reliefs and presenting them as original artworks in their own right. Inspired by mythology and ancient motifs, he focuses on connections between culture and nature. “Whether it’s mountains, clouds, plants, and animals, I like to mix all these elements to tell or symbolize stories,” he tells Colossal, describing the painted panels as windows to an imagined realm. “Our world is beautiful, provided you know how to see it from this angle.”

Roussel often has prints available for sale on his website, and you can find more on Instagram.

 

A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a scarab beetle with lilies.

A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a magenta fish.

A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a horse with leaves flowing off of its body.

A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of two fish with flowers on their bodies.  A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a school of fish.  A wood engraving by Matt Roussel of a blue beetle with flowers on its body.

 

 



Art

More Than 500,000 Black LEGO Structure Ekow Nimako’s Vast Afrofuturistic Cityscapes

November 3, 2022

Grace Ebert

A photo of a detailed cityscape made of black LEGO

All images © Ekow Nimako, shared with permission. Photo by Don Hall

Through vast environments constructed with hundreds of thousands of black LEGO, Ghanaian-Canadian artist Ekow Nimako envisions an Afrofuturistic landscape brimming with strength, power, and liberation. Sprawling metropolises nest small buildings, regal towers, and fantastical details like the unhinged jaw of an enormous snake in their midst, structuring the architectural realms around legacies of myth and optimism.

Nimako’s current project, Building Black Civilizations: Journey of 2000 Ships, encapsulates this Afrofuturistic vision and invokes the mysterious story of Mansa Abu Bakr II, Mali’s ruler who’s said to have sailed from the coast of Africa in the 14th Century and never returned. The Atlantic voyage is one possible example of pre-Columbian contact and the founding narrative behind the artist’s latest sculptures.

Part of the ongoing Building Black series, this new collection comprises upwards of 500,000 sleek, black LEGO built into speculative cityscapes and figures. Nimako, who is currently based in Toronto, collaborated with studio assistants Janeesa Lewis-Nimako, Karen Osagie, and Keisha Agyemang to construct the utopian works, which are on view now at Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Each topography requires more than 600 hours of build time and contains an Adinkra, a symbol traditionally representing an aphoristic concept. Nimako shares that the emblems “are meant to connect the successive medieval empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai across the centuries to the present, while providing a proverbial and moral centre for each sculptural narrative.”

Visit Dunlop Art Gallery before January 10, 2023, to see the incredible detail of Journey of 2000 Ships up close, and find more from Nimako on Instagram.

 

A photo of a detailed cityscape made of black LEGO

Photo by Don Hall

A photo of a detailed cityscape made of black LEGO

Photo by Don Hall

Two photos of a animalistic mask made of black LEGO and a figure made of black LEGO

A photo of a detailed cityscape made of black LEGO

A photo of a sculpture of a child riding a turtle made of black LEGO

Photo by Don Hall

A photo of a detailed cityscape made of black LEGO

A photo of a detailed cityscape made of black LEGO

Photo by Don Hall

A photo of the artist with a ship sculpture

Photo by Don Hall

 

 



Design

Undulating Volumes of Rattan Wind Through the Interior of a Chiang Mai Gallery

November 3, 2022

Kate Mothes

A contemporary interior in Chiang Mai, Thailand, featuring walls and lighting features made of rattan and wood.

All images by William Barrington Binns, © Enter Projects Asia

In South East Asia where palm trees grow abundantly, rattan has traditionally provided a source of sustainable, affordable, and adaptable material for everything from homewares and furniture to sports equipment and crafts. Architecture firm Enter Projects Asia (previously) has transformed an art gallery in Chiang Mai, Thailand, by weaving a continuous, undulating form throughout the space. Winding from room to room, the structure provides lighting along the ceiling and drops to the floor to create three pods.

Known for its use of the thin, malleable wood that can be dried in long strips and shaped into sweeping, airy volumes, Enter Projects seized an opportunity to reinterpret the existing interior with the addition of warm tones and curving lines. “We sought to create an immersive experience, giving the space a warmth and depth uncharacteristic of conventional art galleries,” explains architect and director Patrick Keane. An important facet of the project was to embrace traditional Thai craftsmanship and materials with a focus on sustainability. “It is not hard to be sustainable in construction if we adapt to our environment. Why would we use synthetic, toxic plastics when we have all the noble materials right at our fingertips?”

You can explore more on Enter Projects’ website and on Instagram.

 

A contemporary interior in Chiang Mai, Thailand, featuring walls and lighting features made of rattan and wood.

A contemporary interior in Chiang Mai, Thailand, featuring walls and lighting features made of rattan and wood.

Two images side-by-side of a contemporary interior in Chiang Mai, Thailand, featuring walls and lighting features made of rattan and wood.

An image of the exterior courtyard of an art gallery in Chiang Mai featuring a rattan lighting feature that winds in and out of the building.