Art History Science
Anatomy and History Collide in Borosilicate Glass Sculptures by Kit Paulson
In a lovely clash of anatomy and antiquity, artist Kit Paulson (previously) forms impossibly fragile objects entirely from glass. By referencing historical artworks through lace patterns, or traversing the structures of blood veins and bones found in the human body, she externalizes the internal and reveals hidden visceral structures all around us. She pushes the idea further still by creating wearable sculptures like masks and gloves.
Paulson works primarily with slender tubes of borosilicate glass heated with a torch through a method called flameworking. “Even with its sterility and stability, glass must be manipulated by hand, relying on very the physical, muscle memory of the hands which is invisibly powered by blood and bone,” she shares with Colossal.
The artist just arrived at Bild-Werk Frauenau in Germany, an international forum for glass and visual arts where she’ll teach for the next 6 months. You can explore more of her work on Instagram and see dozens of her small glass objects available on Etsy.
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Unearthly Anatomical Works Sculpted in Crystal and Glass by Debra Baxter Explore Grief and Loss
Artist and jewelry designer Debra Baxter (previously) explores the endurance of grief, mortality, and human bonds in Love Tears. Comprised of anatomical and figurative sculptures, the multifaceted series blend alabaster, quartz, and wood with delicate glass or metal to create forms that contrast the fragility of the body and natural world with the rugged topographies of crystals and rock.
Simultaneously corporeal and unearthly, the spliced works evoke the Victorian tradition of mourning jewelry, which used various motifs and deep colors as memorials. In “Catch Your Breath,” for example, branch-like veins in bronze sprawl throughout crystalline lungs, while “Love Hard” bisects a smooth, glass heart with spiky quartz. “There’s inevitable pain in every form of love,” Baxter says about the series. “I’m fascinated by the ways in which we decorate this grief and mourning, and I wanted to see how far I could push myself with balancing the immediate, often ornate, demonstration of loss, and my use of permanent materials. This is about loss and legacy.”
Love Tears will be on view at Santa Fe’s form & concept gallery from October 29, 2021, to January 15, 2022, and you can find more of Baxter’s bodily works on Instagram.
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Anatomical Embroideries Use Precise Stitches and Beads to Portray Muscles, Organs, and Bodily Systems
A single skeletal muscle contains hundreds of thousands of individual fibers stretched in long rows, an anatomical fact that the textile artist behind Ambroidering recreates in an unusually fitting manner. Based in Shropshire, England, the artist stitches precise embroideries of the human body, defining circular systems with sinuous threads, conveying the distinct layers of skin with sparkling beads, and translating the brain’s spongy matter into thick, puffy pockets. You can find many of the biologically focused pieces shown here on Etsy, and for similarly scientific works, check out Amber Griffith’s punch-needle pieces and Emmi Khan’s bodily systems.
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Otherworldly Paintings Trap Skeletons in Perpetually Bizarre and Eerie Situations
In his ongoing Fragments series, San Antonio-based artist Jason Limon (previously) uses muted jewel and earth tones to paint uncanny scenarios for his recurring skeleton figure. The bony subject finds itself in a variety of bizarre situations, whether bursting from a tube of paint, orchestrating a puppet show with a pair of ornate paper hands, or nervously awaiting an encroaching fire. Often set against backdrops filled with multi-colored dabs of paint, his small pieces are imbued with a sense of creative problem-solving as he traps figures in scenes with boxes of pencils, scuffed erasers, and other craft supplies.
Although skeletons are typically tied to ideas of death and afterlife, Limon sees the anatomical subject as a universal image that allows him “to portray a thought, feeling or idea without the identity of the figure getting in the way,” although he tends to pair the ubiquitous form with actions and environments that are tied to his personal life. “My biggest concern has always been what’s been going on around closest to me and that is my family. Things were not so easy growing up in our family, and these days we’ve been able to get closer and help each other out,” he shares.
Originals, prints, and a few wearables are available in Limon’s shop, and you have a few chances to see his unearthly works in the coming months: at the LA Art Show from July 29 to August 1, at Copro Gallery in Santa Monica in September and October, and at Long Island’s Haven Gallery in April 2022. Until then, head to Instagram for an extensive archive of his pieces.
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Graphite Portraits Distort and Intertwine Subjects to Visualize Metaphors of the Body
Malmö, Sweden-based artist Miles Johnston portrays subjects whose figures are in states of flux, whether through fragmented bodies, multiplied faces, or limbs contorted into impossible positions. Often depicting Johnston (previously) or his partner, the graphite portraits distort typical anatomy in a way that balances the familiar with the unknown and visualizes the thoughts and emotions otherwise hidden inside the mind.
Whether set against a trippy backdrop or quiet beach, each piece portrays the experience of the body “through a kind of internal metaphorical language,” the artist says. He explains further:
We don’t directly experience the actual biochemical facts of what is happening in our bodies, hormones secreting, weird little proteins and neurons doing whatever it is they do. Instead, we have a whole language of expressions like stomach tied up in knots, feeling empty, torn in two, burning with anger, etc… I’m aiming for this sort of naive direct representation of what things feel like instead of a literal representation of how they look from the outside.
Keep an eye on Johnston’s site and Instagram for news on upcoming print releases and his latest works.
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Faces and Fingers Glazed in Celadon Emerge from Surreal Vessels by Canopic Studio
Disembodied faces and fingers encircle the surreal vessels created by Canopic Studio, a Los Angeles-based practice helmed by Claire and Curran Wedner. Known for their ceramics that display human anatomy in a repetitious pattern, the husband and wife recently diverged from the black-and-white works previously mentioned on Colossal to create a series entirely in celadon, a jade color with a rich history.
The translucent glaze originated in China and was prominent throughout the country for centuries before being replaced by blue-and-white porcelain. It’s traditionally made with a bit of iron oxide—too little creates a blue color, while too much produces a darker olive or black—and then fired in a reducing kiln at a high temperature.
Curran says he first experimented with the glaze in 2004 as part of a ceramics class and returned to it now after researching cone 10 gas firing and reduction, or the process of decreasing oxygen in the kiln. The resulting pieces shift in color with the light, a trait that dovetails with the studio’s interest in mutable identities and idiosyncrasies that shows up in the shape of their works.
Pieces are created using the same mold to produce similar, but not identical, body parts. When attached in rows on the mug or bowl, the single face or finger becomes one of many, each defined by its slight difference. “I’m interested in identity and how it shifts when we go from being alone to being a part of a crowd,” Curran says. He explains:
I like prodding that space in between, where identity feels almost pliable or molten, then hardens, then shifts again, and so on. When the face I’m using is pulled from a single mold, it has a surreal quality—so identical it’s almost eerie, and all the tiny flaws and differences come forward when they otherwise wouldn’t.
Right now, Canopic Studio is in the process of creating a line of face medallions finished with 22 karat gold. The duo list new pieces bi-monthly on Etsy, and you can keep an eye out for shop updates and see works-in-progress on Instagram.
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