120,000 Ribbons Wave Across the Former Footprint of the Berlin Wall in an Installation Marking 30 Years Since the Peaceful Revolution
On November 9, 1989, German officials decided to allow residents of Communist East Germany to cross over and visit the Western, democratic half of the divided country. Though the complex process of physically and ideologically reunifying the country took about a year in total, November 9th is considered a landmark day. To celebrate 30 years since the Berlin Wall began to break down, artist Patrick Shearn (previously) was commissioned to create a large-scale installation that integrated the reflections and hopes of 30,000 people.
Visions in Motion was on view November 4th through 10th in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, a location that had previously been a demarcation of division. A statement from Poetic Kinetics explained, “the artwork’s rectangular shape conjures the form of the wall; but instead of a heavy, impenetrable border, the form takes flight.” The massive installation spanned 20,000 square feet and was comprised of 120,000 fabric streamers, a quarter of which featured hand-written messages that were collected in the months leading up to the display.
Shearn is a resident of Los Angeles, Berlin’s sister city, and is renowned for his large-scale kinetic installations, which he calls “Skynets”. Tying the German installation to its sister city, the Los Angeles-area Wende Museum, which houses Cold War artifacts, invited Los Angelenos to contribute messages to Visions in Motion as well.
Shearn and his team at Poetic Kinetics are prolific creators. You can explore much more of their archive on the Poetic Kinetics website, and follow them on Instagram to keep up with their latest projects around the world.
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Over 100 Stitchers are Collaborating Across the U.S. to Complete an Unfinished Embroidered Quilt by Late Crafter Rita Smith
Chicago-based fiber artist and activist Shannon Downey has a particular affinity for unfinished projects. She seeks them out at estate sales, helping women who’ve passed complete their work. Although this has long been an area of interest for Downey, one recent discovery has catapulted to the front page of news sites around the world.
On a visit this September to a Chicagoland estate sale sale, Downey happened upon a framed embroidery (pictured above) that maps out the United States and illustrates all fifty state flowers. A casual conversation with the cashier at the sale led to Downey finding a large-scale project related to the framed work. An unfinished queen-sized quilt was meant to incorporate another U.S. map along with hexagons featuring each state’s bird and flower along with the year they entered the union.
Rita Smith of Mount Prospect, Illinois, had begun the project a few decades ago, according to her son, whom Downey subsequently connected with. Smith, who was a nurse, passed away recently at the age of 99. “I have an annoying habit of having to purchase and finish unfinished projects if I think that the person has passed on … but usually I’m just buying a half-done pillow that needs half an hour’s worth of stitching and then it’s done,” Downey told Block Club Chicago. “But this one was massive and it just felt really significant for some reason. And so I bought it.”
Downey has a substantial following thanks to her work as a community organizer and resource for people looking for an alternative to digital distractions. The self-described ‘craftivist’ tells Colossal that after running a digital marketing company for a decade, she was burned out and needed a break from technology.
I started stitching to find some digital/analog balance. I was hooked. I am an activist and I quickly fused the two. At first, it was about creating space for myself to think substantively and reflect on various issues and topics. As I started to share my work and thoughts, I found a community of folks on Instagram who were engaged and engaging. I have found ways to move those communities offline and into real life communities through my stitch-ups. Those communities are what inspire me to keep going, level up, find new ways of building and connecting, having hard conversations and tackling challenging topics.
Once Downey shared her unexpected find on Twitter, inquiries from potential collaborators began flooding in. Now she is coordinating between dozens of stitchers across the country who are volunteering their time to complete Rita’s masterpiece. Downey describes the effort as a strongly feminist project. “It is an opportunity for folks to consider how we define and assign value and meaning to craft,” she tells Colossal. “So many of the stories that people are sharing with me on twitter after reading about #RitasQuilt are about memories and connections that they have to the women in their lives who are/were makers and the significance that their art has come to have for them.”
The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky will be displaying the completed quilt, and Downey hopes that it will be able to come with her for a planned 2020 craftivist tour around the U.S. Keep up with Downey on Twitter and Instagram to see how you can get involved in craftivism in your community, and follow along with the #RitasQuilt hashtag.
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Sorrowful Sculptures Designed in a Three-Part Collaboration Meditate on Life, Loss, and Regeneration
In a limited edition of 12 new sculptures created in a unique three part collaboration, weeping women mourn a decomposing figure. The cast white figures, partially collapsed in a kneeling pose, embrace amorphous forms that ooze and drip. Countering the somber tone of each sculpture, colorful coral and mushroom-like shapes grow from the decomposition, uniting life and death and forging new growth from the loss.
To create this body of work, sculptor Stéphanie Kilgast (previously) partnered with illustrator Miles Johnston (previously) who conceptualized the base sculpture, and multi-disciplinary production facilitator MoonCrane Press who created the cast.
In a statement on the collaborative project, Kilgast explained that “I added life with my mushrooms, because, whatever happens, life always keeps going. Even if it’s just on a bacterial level. Another way of seeing this sculpture is to see the woman crying not over a human being but over the 6th mass extinction of nature that is currently happening.”
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Textile artist Amanda Browder collaborates with the communities she’s working in to built site-specific architectural interventions. Using hundreds of yards of donated fabric with bright colors and patterns, Browder and her volunteer teams stitch together enormous panels that resemble crazy quilts. The panels wrap around bell towers, sheath elevated walkways, and drape from gables and eaves to give passersby a new experience of familiar buildings. In a statement on her website, Browder describes her work:
A state of betweenness – ‘twixt soft sculpture /’tween orchestrated public object installation with a studio affinity for abstraction and minimalism”. I am in love with the transformative nature of materials, and how the combination of the familiar creates abstract relationships about place. This relational objectivity generates an open-ended narrative, ambiguous situations defined by the choice of materials and work ethic. Central to the psychedelic experience, I am drawn to reinventing Pop-Art colors by exploring shifts in scale and sculptural perceptions.
The Montana-born artist received a B.A. in studio arts as well as two master’s degrees in sculpture and installation art. Browder is now based in Brooklyn and frequently travels to create new work. She was recently awarded an opportunity with the prestigious ArtPrize organization in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The multi-part work, titled Kaleidoscopic, is currently on view at locations around Grand Rapids. Keep up with Browder’s projects on Instagram, and watch the video below for a time-lapse of a previous installation in Las Vegas and an interview with the artist.
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Two Collaborative Murals by Pat Perry and Local Schoolchildren Connect Communities in Iraq and Maine
Detroit-based artist Pat Perry (previously) travels widely to create drawings, paintings, and murals inspired by the diverse cultures and landscapes of different parts of the world, often with an eye toward forgotten or marginalized people and places. Partnering with aptART and the Good Works Foundation, Perry’s most recent project took him to Maine and Iraqi Kurdistan, where he collaboratively designed and painted a pair of murals with local schoolchildren. The two fifth grade classes, located over 5,600 miles apart in Biddeford and Slemani, got to know each other by exchanging videos and artwork. They then assisted Perry with painting their own messages on the new murals.
The resulting project, OPENING LINES, depicts a child in each mural holding a red telephone. Because their backs are turned, the viewer can imagine whether each subject is speaking or listening. Surrounding each figure are doodles and messages written in both English and Arabic by Perry’s young collaborators. Samantha Robison of aptART tells Colossal, “With cultural overlap across the globe unavoidable, the peril of stereotype can be lessened by individual, personal acquaintances across borders; a literal face rather than an idea of one. The most integral part of equality is providing platforms for people to speak, to create, to be listened to.”
The video below offers a glimpse behind the scenes of OPENING LINES. You can follow along with aptART’s youth programming on Instagram and explore more of Perry’s wide-ranging humanist work (including limited edition prints) on his website and Instagram.
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An animated music video for Meg Myers’ cover of a Kate Bush song brings kid’s coloring books to life. Director Jo Roy first filmed Myers on a green screen, performing the crawling, climbing, and flying shown in the music video (see behind-the-scenes below). Then, each of the 3,202 frames was printed off as a black and white coloring book page. Elementary school-aged children from ten schools and an art program in the U.S. and Canada colored the pages however they wanted, with a provided crayon color palette.
Over 2,100 kids contributed to the resulting animation, which features Myers exploring the universe as a metamorphosing moth. Within the provided black contour lines, scribbled-in tulips and imaginatively shaded planets form the backdrop for the singer’s winged journey. You can see more of Roy’s directorial and dance work on her website, and listen to Meg Myers on Soundcloud. (via Colossal Submissions)
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It’s not uncommon to see, in any situation from a museum to a public park to see both amateur and professional photographers capturing moments using technology ranging from sleek smartphones to cumbersome lenses. Less common is the sight of a photographer shooting with a loaf of bread, mannequin, or shed.
U.K.-based artist Brendan Barry painstakingly transforms these banal materials into film cameras, which result in surprisingly beautiful photographs. Barry explores a variety of camera styles including pinhole, 35mm, and ultra large format. In a statement on his website, the artist explains that he uses “the mechanics of photography as a tool for exploration and collaboration,” often traveling to work with different communities and particularly with young people. Barry is the founder and director of Positive Light Projects, a non-profit that works with diverse audiences and emerging photographers to help empower their practice. He also teaches at the Exeter School of Art.
You can see more of Barry’s work on his website, where he documents the process of building his cameras. The artist also shares many of the resulting photographs from his collaborative cameras on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
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