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Art

Untamed Flora and Fauna Rendered with Mud in New Multi-Level Mural by Yusuke Asai

March 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

“The earth is falling from the sky” (2019), view from Wulong Lanba Art Festival in China. All images © Yusuke Asai, shared with permission

Part of a solo exhibition titled Gimme Something/To Eat at Anomaly in Tokyo, a multi-level project by Japanese painter Yusuke Asai considers the structure of ecosystems and the relationship between humans, animals, and nature. In his mythical installation “The earth is falling from the sky,” a central figure with outstretched arms smiles down from the ceiling. Intertwined scenes of flora and fauna encircle the entirety of the dome-shaped room, with deer, rodents, and snakes scattered throughout the untamed installation. The artist previously shared this project in the Moss Museum at the Wulong Lanba Art Festival in China.

Asai is known for using simple materials like soil, water, dust, flour, tape, pens, and even animal blood gathered from local regions to create his sprawling projects, requiring viewers to interact directly with their surrounding environments. In his mud paintings, the artist literally binds themes of nature with physical elements of the earth.

If you’re in Tokyo, the exhibition is open at Anomaly through April 18. Otherwise, head to Instagram to see some of the artist’s small-scale works. (via Spoon & Tamago)

 

 



Illustration

Vibrant New Scottish Currency Illustrated with Influential Women and Abundant Wildlife

March 11, 2020

Grace Ebert

During the last four years, the Royal Bank of Scotland launched a democratic project to capture what one collaborator termed “the more ordinary aspects of Scottish identity including otters, midges, mackerel and tweed.” The result is Fabric of Nature, a series of recently released banknotes that feature illustrated wildlife and portraits of some of Scotland’s most influential women. This week, the third installment of the project was released, presenting a new £20 note featuring a pair of bushy-tailed red squirrels.

Author and poet Nan Shepherd is featured on the £5, scientist Mary Somerville is on the £10, and tearoom businesswoman and artist patron Kate Cranston is profiled on the £20. When held up to a UV light, each polymer bill reveals a glowing image of the wildlife, in addition to an English version of Gaelic poetry from Sorley Maclean, Norman MacCaig, and Mark Alexander Boyd that’s visible in daylight. The quotes are scribed by calligrapher Susie Leiper.

A Scottish design studio, Nile, spearheaded the project, with assistance from O Street, Timorous Beasties, Graven, and Stuco. “From the typography to the featured animals, to the bespoke textile backgrounds, every element of every note has a meaning connected with the people of Scotland. The notes are a cultural capture of what is important, and heart felt for us Scots,” a statement from Nile says.

The Scottish redesign is part of a larger movement worldwide to create currency that better captures diversity. In the United States, however, the treasury stalled on releasing a $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman in 2019, saying the updated design would be released instead in 2026.

For a more in-depth look at the collaborative design process for Fabric of Nature, check out the videos Nile’s site. (via It’s Nice That)

Scientist Mary Somerville is on the £10

Tearoom businesswoman and artist patron Kate Cranston

Author and poet Nan Shepherd on the £5

 

 



Illustration

Expressive Dogs Shake and Sniff in Kaleidoscopic Illustrations by Marina Okhromenko

March 10, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Marina Okhromenko

Swirling patches of fur and bespeckled eyes characterize the emotive dogs in Marina Okhromenko’s digital illustrations. Hoping to capture varying degrees of joy, devotion, and adoration, the Moscow-based illustrator depicts twelve dogs wearing different expressions, each distinguished through their eagerness and the intensity of their stares. One pup curiously pushes its nose through a pale blue gap, while another’s tongue hangs from its mouth as it pants.

In an interview with Adobe Create, Okhromenko talked about her lifelong love for experimenting with color combinations. “As a child, my favorite toy was a kaleidoscope—you take and mix different colored pieces, and the result is always beautiful. A similar aesthetic in my work is my unique voice,” she said.

Okhromenko is also the publisher of ORE Lab, a notebook design company. The expressive portraits were created as part of ORE’s project called arTTask, which connects art with productivity, an intersection that’s one of Okhromenko’s current obsessions.  “We are seeing this more and more as high-tech companies decorate their walls and surrounding spaces with interesting illustrations. In our environment, we call this neuro-office,” she said. “I’m interested in how to design a personal space to combine the simplicity of minimalism with the beauty of fireworks.” To keep up with the illustrator’s vibrant projects, head to Instagram and Behance.

 

 



Art Illustration

Floral-and-Frond Compositions Shape Energetic Wildlife by Raku Inoue

March 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Whale” (2020). All images © Raku Inoue

Known for his botanical arrangements of beetles, insects, and butterflies, Raku Inoue once again is bringing flora and fauna together. His previous work often positions the animals in stationary poses, resembling a portrait of an owl or a scorpion pinned inside a glass case as part of a collection. The latest pieces in his Natura Wildlife series, though, indicate a liveliness and inclination for movement, from a whale blasting orange flowers from its blowhole to a seahorse grasping a Q-tip.

In an Instagram post, the Montreal-based creative even said he modeled his pink-hued flamingo after Flamingo Bob, the Caribbean bird who was disabled after flying into a hotel window. The artist crafted multiple depictions of the animal as he stares, swims, and mingles with friends, in between his duties as an ambassador for the FDOC, a foundation dedicated to educating locals about wildlife protection. “I thought I would make these images honoring him and his future legacies,” Inoue wrote.

“Staring Bob” (2020)

“Jellyfish” (2020)

“Mingling Bob” (2020)

 

 



Art

A Hanging Mobile of Bronze Hand Sculptures Casts Playful Silhouettes of Animals

February 26, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Os Pássaros e o Lobo” (2017), bronze, steel cables, metal bars, and light projector, 200 x 200. Image © Casa Triângulo

A bronze piece by Brazilian artist Albano Afonso uses multiple sets of dangling hands that mimic shadow puppetry. Titled “Os Pássaros e o Lobo,” or “The Birds and the Wolf,” the sculpture is illuminated by a light projector, casting dark silhouettes on the wall behind it that resembles a mobile of active animals. In a statement, Afonso is described as being “interested in the anatomy of light: its intensity or softness, its ability to both illuminate and obscure, its sources, its symbolic and utilitarian uses, and its beauty.” You can follow his light-sensitive projects on Instagram.

 

 



Craft

Papier-Mâché Masks Crafted by Liz Sexton Bring Animals to Human Scale

February 11, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Liz Sexton, shared with permission

Rejecting anthropocentrism, Liz Sexton wants to break down the boundary between human and animal life. The Minneapolis-based artist creates large papier-mâché pieces of foxes, owls, and other wild animals designed to be worn by humans, creating a hybrid being that she often situates in non-natural environments, like a rat near the subway lines or a porcupine fish out of water.

Sexton began making her facial masks a few years ago after constructing a couple of Halloween costumes, although she’s worked with the versatile paper material for many years. Made of brown paper, paste, and paper pulp, each piece takes a couple of weeks, if not months, to create. The artist tells Colossal that her “hope is that the viewer gains not only awareness of the animal but a sense of kinship and empathy.”

I often work on species facing existential threats, such as marine life, though I suppose this uncertainty applies to most animals at this point. Photographing the animal heads worn out of their natural habitats, and in our immediate world, highlights the displacement that many creatures experience. I also enjoy working on animals that likely live very close to us but we don’t necessary see. Bringing them out into our human habitats, on a human scale, they become neighbors, commuters, a visible part of our community.

When not being worn, Sexton’s masks rest flat on the floor, appearing as a bust and adding to the reverential quality she hopes to inspire. For more of the artist’s animalistic projects—and to see the miniature rhinos, bears, and zebras she recently created for The New York Times Style Magazine⁠—head to Instagram.

 

 



Craft Illustration

Paper Quilling Process Shown Step-by-Step in New Video by Yulia Brodskaya

February 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Jaguar.” All images © Yulia Brodskaya

Known for her technique of “painting with paper,” Yulia Brodskaya (previously) has crafted a new piece titled “Jaguar,” a portrait blending human and cat features. In a recent video posted to her Facebook, the U.K.-based artist shares her creative process, starting with a sketched figure on a black board. Brodskaya then fills in small patches with neutral-toned paper, clipping them in place until she attaches the next piece. The artist even utilizes a tweezers to position some of the singular layers and shows her quilling technique up close as she bends strips of paper before wrapping the edge around the folds. For more of Brodskaya’s paper paintings, head to Instagram.