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Art

A New Monograph Follows the Evolution of Wangechi Mutu’s Mythologizing Practice

January 24, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of a woman-mermaid sculpture in a gallery

“Water Woman” (2017), bronze, 91 x 165 x 178 centimeters. All images © Wangechi Mutu, courtesy of Phaidon, shared with permission

A new monograph published by Phaidon delves into the multi-faceted work of Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu (previously). The first of its kind, the volume packs hundreds of artworks, glimpses into Mutu’s Nairobi studio, and her own writings within its 160 pages. Known for mythologizing, the artist often incorporates found, organic materials like soil, feathers, bone, and ephemera into her collages and sculptures. The works broadly explore gender, sexuality, politics, and the natural world through expressive, hybrid figures imbued with otherworldly lore.

To coincide with the book’s release, Phaidon has a limited-edition print available featuring Mutu’s dreamlike “WaterSpirit washed Pelican.” Explore an archive of her works on Instagram.

 

A photo of a woman-mermaid sculpture in trees

“Water Woman” (2017), bronze, 91 x 165 x 178 centimeters. Installation view at The Contemporary Austin – Laguna Gloria, 2017

A photo of an open book spread

A collaged work of two figures

“You Are My Sunshine” (2015), collage painting on paper, 61 x 91 centimeters

A photo of an open book spread

A photo of a woman-creature sculpture

“Mamaray” (2020), bronze, 165 x 366 x 488 centimeters

A photo of three figurative sculptures with colorful hair

From left: “Mirror Faced I” (2020), soil, charcoal, paper pulp, wood glue, emulsion paint, gourd, brass beads, mirror, teak base, hair, wrought iron stand, 174 x 37 x 34 centimeters, bust 58 x 28 x 31 centimeters; “Mirror Faced II” (2020), soil, charcoal, paper pulp, wood glue, emulsion paint, desiccated baobab fruit, brass beads, mirror, teak base, hair, wrought iron stand, 168 x 31 x 36 centimeters, bust 50 x 25 x 28 centimeters; “Mirror Faced III” (2020), Soil, charcoal, paper pulp, wood glue, emulsion paint, brass beads, rose quartz, mirror, teak base, hair, wrought iron stand, 176 x 43 x 37 centimeters, bust 60 x 27 x 33 centimeters

A photo of the artist and a sculpture

Wangechi Mutu, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, 2021

A photo of a book cover

 

 

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Art Craft

From Junk Drawers to Phone Books, Artist Bernie Kaminski Captures the Nostalgia of Banal Items Through Papier-Mâché

January 13, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of a paper mache junk drawer

All images © Bernie Kaminski, courtesy of Turn Gallery, shared with permission

A stack of worn phone books, a neatly folded button-up, and a junk drawer filled with receipts, batteries, and takeout remnants capture the playful nostalgia of Bernie Kaminski’s papier-mâché sculptures. The artist, who began working with the humble craft after his daughter brought home a seahorse she made in school, is driven largely by curiosity and a desire to explore the potential of the material, and he tends to recreate the objects he finds around his home. An orange dutch oven sits atop a shelving unit stocked with pantry items and cookbooks, for example, and books like Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White and John Berger’s A Painter of Our Time find their place among other classic texts.

Kaminski gravitates toward authentic interpretations of generally banal items, although the subtle ripples and creases of the material remain visible. He generally coats a cardboard and tape base with the wet papier-mâché, before letting it dry and painting on logos, signatures, and other details. Imbued with a playful sense of nostalgia, the sculptures “look fake in a way that somehow reflects how I feel about the real thing,” the artist tells It’s Nice That.

Be sure to visit Kaminski’s Instagram for an archive of the lighthearted wares. (via Kottke)

 

A photo of paper mache phone books and a phone

A photo of a paper mache boombox

A photo of a paper mache t-shirt

A photo of a paper mache pantry

A photo of paper mache books

A photo of a paper mache button up

A detail photo of a paper mache junk drawer

 

 



Design

A Chinese Village’s Breezy New Library Uses Traditional Construction Techniques to Make a Social Impact

January 11, 2023

Kate Mothes

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

All images © Condition_Lab and UAL Studio. Photograph by Sai Zhao

Modeled after a traditional Dong timber house, a new local library designed by Chinese architecture firm Condition_Lab highlights the region’s architectural heritage through elegant, contemporary details. Pingtan Book House is located in the village of Pingtan, Tongdao Province, Hunan, and nestles into the courtyard of a primary school that serves 400 children. The studio saw an opportunity to complement the school—a 20-year old blocky, concrete construction—with an addition that was more empathetic to its cultural and natural surroundings.

Condition_Lab conceived of the idea for a pitched, tiled roof and mortise-and-tenon construction from the local vernacular, drawing attention to the region’s disappearing historic construction. “Entire villages built over centuries from a single sustainable material, indigenous China Fir, are rapidly losing their identity,” the studio explains in a statement. “Dong’s cultural DNA is being challenged by contemporary living and the quest to modernize.”

Connection and interaction within the space and with one another is an important facet of Condition_Lab’s ethos. “Social impact does not require large amounts of financial investment, design is not limited to high-end projects, and architecture must have a purpose,” the studio says. To make the interior space inviting for children to explore, sit, and read, the designers devised a unique plan: instead of rooms and doors, the layout consists of two staircases that wrap around one another in a double helix. Landings between staircases provide wall space for books and top-to-bottom windows that peer out into the surrounding landscape. The steps provide seating for the children, with views up and down the three-story structure through airy balustrades.

Condition_Lab focuses on purposeful design as a vehicle to make change, and you can explore more of the studio’s work on its website and Instagram.

 

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

The interior of a contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

Two photographs of a contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Left: Photograph by Xiaotie Chen. Right: Photograph by Sai Zhao

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques, photographed at night.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

Two photographs of a contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Left: Photograh by Sai Zhao. Right: Photograph by Xiaotie Chen

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques, photographed from a distance within the context of the village.

Photograph by Xiaotie Chen

 

 



Design

The Elegant ‘Library House’ Encases a Vast Book Collection Within a Swedish Forest

January 4, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of a person walking in a glass house

All images courtesy of Fria Folket

Nestled in lush woodlands near Stockholm, the “Library House” is a sophisticated dwelling that’s both creatively inspiring and meditative. Glass walls enclose the four-building structure, which was designed by the architecture studio Fria Folket, and shelves of books delineate many of the rooms and hallways. The cozy and airy dwelling features a wood stove in an open kitchen, a connected greenhouse, warm rust-colored tile running throughout the home, and a central courtyard for gathering.

Explore more of Fria Folket’s elegant designs on Instagram. (via Plain Magazine)

 

A photo of a glass house with books and a courtyard

Two photos of the interior of a glass house with books and a baby grand piano

A photo of the interior of a home hallway

A photo of a glass house with a woodstove in the kitchen

Two photos of a glass house facing inside and out

A photo of the interior of a glass house with a stove and bookshelves

A photo of glass house in the woods

 

 



Art

Everyday Situations Take an Amusing Turn in Toon Joosen’s Clever Collages

December 21, 2022

Grace Ebert

A collage of a woman vacuuming people on a beach

All images © Toon Joosen, shared with permission

A man mows a field of text, a vacuum cleaner sucks up beachgoers, and kids shield themselves from falling words in the witty collages of Toon Joosen. From his studio in The Netherlands, the artist cuts and splices vintage photos, magazines, postcards, and book pages into clever works that take an ironic and surreal approach to everyday activities. Joosen tends to play with scale and perspective, creating tongue-in-cheek scenarios brimming with nostalgia and humor. He shares dozens of works on Instagram and has prints, buttons, and other goods available on Etsy.

 

A photo of a collage of a man mowing text

A photo of a collage of a woman plowing corrugated cardboard

A photo of a collage of kids playing with text

A photo of a collage of a text raining down on kids shielded by an umbrella

A collage of a woman cleaning beachgoers

A photo of a collage of a people pulling up text like weeds

A photo of a collage of a man harvesting text with a tractor

 

 



Art

A New Book Repaints the Legacy of Street Art by Spotlighting Women Leading the Genre

December 1, 2022

Kate Mothes

A photograph of a mural of a woman wearing a scarf on the end of a building.

Medianeras, “The Crystal Ship” (2021) in Ostend, Belgium. All images courtesy of the artists and Prestel, shared with permission

For street artists, the urban landscape is an infinite canvas. Whether wheat pasted, sprayed, or layered with brushes, vibrant compositions revitalize public spaces and provide an ever-evolving barometer of the political climate and current affairs. The genre has been historically dominated by men, but a new book by journalist Alessandra Mattanza and Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art founder Stephanie Utz shifts the dial.

Women Street Artists spotlights the diverse practices of 24 graffiti and mural artists hailing from around the globe who work in a variety of styles, from large-scale public projects like Camilla Falsini’s vibrant pavement composition in Milan to striking interventions like Olek’s pink, crocheted coverlet for “Charging Bull,” Wall Street’s masculine bronze sculpture. Each finds walls, sidewalks, demolished structures, prison cells, grain silos, and other nontraditional surfaces to express ideas around feminism and empowerment, body imagery, racism, the climate crisis, and other critical issues.

You can find a copy of Women Street Artists on Bookshop.org, available now in the U.K. and scheduled for release in the U.S. on December 6.

 

A mural of Ruth Bader-Ginsberg and symbols of American democracy.

Elle, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” (2020) in New York City

An aerial image of a colorful geometric public art piece on a Milan street.

Camilla Falsini, “Tactical Urban Planning Intervention” (2020) in Milan, Italy. Photo by Jungle Agency

A detail of graffiti featuring two women wearing hijabs with Superman logos on their torsos.

#LEDIESIS, “Superwomen” (2019) in Italy

A pink crocheted coverlet sewn over the "Charging Bull" sculpture on Wall Street.

Olek, “Charging Bull” (2010), Wall Street, New York City

A blue and black portrait of a young woman on the site of a disused diner in Miami.

Christina Angelina in collaboration with Ease One (2015) in Miami, Florida

The cover of 'Women Street Artists' book.