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Art

Waves of Engraved Lines Texture the Emotional Figures Sculpted by En Iwamura

December 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © En Iwamura, courtesy of Ross + Kramer Gallery, shared with permission

From hunks of clay, artist En Iwamura (previously) sculpts minimal forms with wildly varied facial expressions that range from shock and surprise to moody contemplation. Etched across the surface of each character are neat pathways of parallel lines, which evoke the clean, sweeping patterns in zen gardens, that are a physical manifestation of the Japanese concept of Ma. The philosophy identifies “the space between the edges, between the beginning and the end, the space and time in which we experience life. Ma is filled with nothing but energy and feeling.”

Although his aesthetic and process remain relatively consistent—Iwarmura is generous about sharing works-in-progress and studio shots on his Instagram—his approach to spatial questions continues to evolve. “My work size has physically got bigger,” he tells Colossal. “That can have (a) different relationship with Ma, either micro (or) macro.”

Iwamura is currently living in Shiga near his hometown of Kyoto, and if you’re in New York, you can see his oversized faces in January at Ross + Kramer Gallery.

 

 

 



Art

This Is Not a Gun: An Interview with Cara Levine Explores Collective Trauma, Grief, and the Power of Ritual

November 16, 2021

Paulette Beete

All images © Cara Levine, shared with permission

In December 2016, Harper’s Magazine published a list of more than 20 objects that had been “mistaken for guns during shootings of civilians by police in the United States since 2001.” Artist Cara Levine found herself stunned then grief-stricken by the items, prompting her to launch the multi-faceted This Is Not a Gun project, which she discusses in the latest interview supported by Colossal Members.

I needed to slow down and understand what I was looking at because I don’t want to live in a world where someone can be killed eating a sandwich. We are getting this information so fast. I decided first to carve. I thought, “If I can carve a sandwich, somewhere in the process, from block of wood to sandwich I can understand how someone might think this is a gun. If I just spend all the time understanding its form, maybe I’ll understand how it was mistaken as a gun.”

As Levine explains in her conversation with Colossal contributor Paulette Beete, she wasn’t naïve about gun violence or how often it occurred in Black communities at the hands of police. What she found unfathomable, however, was how these everyday objects could be interpreted as threats. So she turned to her art as a way to understand the seemingly understandable. In this interview,  Levine speaks about how This Is Not A Gun has informed and evolved her practice, her understanding of both individual and collective grief and trauma, and the importance of ritual.

 

A This Is Not A Gun workshop

 

 



Art

Otherworldly Hybrid Characters by Toco-Oco Consider Human Existence Through Emblems and Myth

November 8, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Toco-Oco, shared with permission

Lara Alcântara and Guilherme Neumann, the duo behind the fantastical figurine maker Toco-Oco, envision an alternate world populated by curious animalistic creatures. Sculpted from a combination of wood, resin, fabric, clay, and wax, the hybrid characters wear garments and masks imprinted with emblems and child-like doodles and express a vast array of emotions that grapple with the strange universe they find themselves in. “It is a world very similar to ours, full of injustices but full of hope,” the pair says in an interview with WePresent. “Our work has reverence for the mystical, natural, and spiritual, trying to rescue this greater connection.”

Based in Brazil, Alcântara and Neumann root each figure in larger narratives often tied to human existence. One character, for example, lugs an oversized, hollowed-out head filled with kindling on its back, a metaphor for a mind overwhelmed by emotion and worries for the future, while smaller busts function as totems with chest cavities and torsos marked by gaping shapes or mythological symbols. A tension between civility and natural instinct is a prominent feature and references “the wild, raw, ruthless, predatory, insatiable, powerful side which is repressed—or worse, is disguised—by the false idea of ​​consciousness,” they say.

Toco-Oco’s sculptures sell out quickly, although they have a pre-sale slated for November 15. Follow updates on that new piece and see more of the otherworldly figures on Behance and Instagram.

 

 

 



Animation Music

Ten Degrees of Strange: Moving Clay Scenes Animate a Music Video About Escaping Anxiety

November 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

In the music video for Robert Macfarlane and Johnny Flynn’s new song “Ten Degrees of Strange,” director Lynn Tomlinson (previously) captures the endless transformations of human emotion through moving clay. The Baltimore-based animator uses her singular technique, which involves painting the pliable material onto a glass backdrop and photographing each frame, to create a stunning visual companion to the indie track about “trying to outrun anxiety, seeking joy and strength in landscape and movement.”

Seamlessly shifting from wide aerial shots to underwater close-ups, the animation opens with an inscribed ancient tablet before following the antagonistic relationship between a central character and a dog. “As a medium, clay holds a lot of power—its malleability allows me to transition fluidly from scene to scene, much as the natural world shifts and evolves over time,” Tomlinson explains in a statement. “In many ways, my clay on glass animation is naturally suited for telling stories about the passage of time, evolving perspectives, and cycles in nature.”

In addition to collaborative projects like “Ten Degrees of Strange,” Tomlinson creates a variety of personal projects focused on the human impact on the environment. You can watch those animations on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 



Craft

Swirls of Air-Dry Clay Compose Vibrant Sculptural Landscapes

October 25, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Alisa Lariushkina, shared with permission

Russian artist Alisa Lariushkina molds countless coiled ribbons and small twists from air-dry clay to create idyllic scenes brimming with color and texture. Reminiscent of Post-Impressionist styles, her sculptural landscapes are imbued with movement, and she uses undulating forms to convey a river’s gleaming surface and a mix of tiny discs to imitate grasses and wildflowers. Lariushkina currently lives in Vilnius and works primarily on commission, and you can follow her latest pieces on Instagram. (via Kottke)

 

 

 



Art

Coral and Plant Life Consume Discarded Objects in Post-Apocalyptic Sculptures by Stéphanie Kilgast

September 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Coral Royal” (2019), epoxy clay, acrylics on tin can, 14 x 15 x 11 centimeters. All images © Stéphanie Kilgast, shared with permission

Artist Stéphanie Kilgast (previously) envisions a vibrant, post-apocalyptic world overgrown with coral, fungi, and lush moss. Using cheap devices and disposable containers that tend to outlast their original function as her base, Kilgast creates painted-clay assemblages that are teeming with fantastical colors and texture: mushrooms sprout from an empty paint tube, sea creatures envelop a crushed can, and plant life cloaks a pair of headphones with whimsical botanicals.

Each of the works contrasts the enduring manufactured object with natural growth, imagining a universe that’s simultaneously devoid of humanity and still marred by its rampant consumption habits. “In that sense my work is joyous. I remove the root of the problem, us, and let all the other species just grow over our mistakes,” she shares. “Nature itself is full of bright colors. It’s inherently beautiful, and my work is an ode to all the living and existing species, (except) for us. Hope dies last, so I still hope my work opens up discussion, thinking, and eventually change.”

Currently based in Vannes, France, Kilgast has exhibitions at Comoedia in Brest, France, Modern Eden in San Francisco, and three at Melbourne’s Beinart Gallery slated for 2022. She also shares much of her process on YouTube and Instagram.

 

“Quinacridone Magenta” (2021), cold porcelain, epoxy clay, acrylics, wire on empty paint tube, 10 x 7 x 13 centimeters

“Cyltonic” (2018), polymer clay, acrylics, wire, thrifted can of cleaning agent, 17 x 9 x 19 centimeters

Top left: “Blue Boletus” (2020), polymer clay, acrylics, wire on tin can, 25 x 14 x 10 centimeters. Top right: “Serene” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics, wire on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 25 x 12 x 17 centimeters. Bottom left: “Yellow Exploration (Octopus)” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 32 x 16 x 15 centimeters and “Blue Bottle (Coral Reef)” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 35 x 15 x 11 centimeters. Bottom right: “Mojito” (2019), poxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on tin can, 17 x 17 x 7 centimeters

“Losing My Song Culture” (2021), epoxy clay, air-dry clay, cold porcelain, paper, watercolor, acrylics, on broken headphones, 28 x 18 x 17 centimeters

Detail of “Blue Bottle (Coral Reef)” (2020), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics on empty acrylic plastic bottle, 35 x 15 x 11 centimeters

“Mother (Elephants)” (2019), epoxy clay, polymer clay, acrylics, wire, thrifted plastic canteen, 17 x 14 x 26 centimeters