For Meggan Joy to begin creating her flowery assemblages, she first has to plant the seeds. The Seattle-based artist cultivates a plot in a community garden throughout the summer months, tending to each fern and vibrant petal. Once her patch is in full bloom, she captures thousands of individual photographs of her rooted plants before combining them into allegorical digital collages of the female body. Birds, butterflies, and other visitors to her garden make an appearance, as well.
Her latest series, Battle Cry, depicts women in the midst of conflict. Imbued with action, each figure is comprised of layers of the living world that are derived from both the opened flowers and the powerful bodily poses. “Color and texture form each woman’s shape, and from the photographs of once-living individual things, portraits of ethereal beings begin to emerge,” the artist says. A snake wraps itself around one figure’s neck, while two others are twisted among flowing ribbon, merging notions of natural beauty and strength.
Joy’s work will be on view at J. Rinehart Gallery in Seattle from June 13 to July 25, with a virtual opening on June 13. Take a peek at her studio, which includes a walk through her garden plot, in the video below, and follow her textured compositions on Instagram.
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Pakistan-based art director and illustrator Omar Aqil (previously) continues his Character Illustrations series with more collaged portraits made from stacks of 3D objects. Using digital software including Adobe Photoshop, Cinema 4D, Octane, and Adobe Illustrator, Aqil creates Picasso-esque faces and places them into random, casual scenes.
The shadows, highlights, and colors make Aqil’s rendered sculptures and plinths appear as built-objects in a physical location. Implied facial features give each character a personality that is helped by humorous expressions and mundane scenarios. “Making this series I have explored the new simplicity of shapes and forms to make a character’s inner expression which told the whole story,” Aqil writes on Behance. He adds the while the main sources of inspiration for the experimental project are Picasso’s portraits, the work also is inspired by random situations that he and other designers face.
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Paper artist and illustrator Hollie Chastain clips, layers, and stitches found photographs and scraps of paper ephemera to create her mixed-media collages. The Chattanooga, Tennessee-based artist repurposes old narratives and images—in one piece, tuba players pop out of a library card pocket, and in another, two men tug on a string woven through a handwritten note—providing a new story for each regenerated work.
Chastain tells Colossal she began working with the medium in 2008. “Vintage book covers became a favorite substrate,” she says. “I fell in love with the scribbles, stamps, library and school identification, water and ink marks and all the other visual history and how that added to and sometimes altered the composition of the piece. ” Today, she often cuts images from National Geographic copies printed in the 1960s and 70s, gravitating toward “strong characters and people in action.”
To share her appreciation of the versatile medium, Chastain published an instructional book detailing various techniques and methods. “What I adore about collage as a medium is the complete versatility and the allowances that it gives first time creators to play around with color and texture and composition without any ‘but I can’t draw’ and ‘I’m not an artist’ hang-ups,” she says. If you want to join Chastain and start your own textured project, order a copy of If You Can Cut, You Can Collage. Otherwise, check out her shop and follow her on Instagram.
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Ukrainian artist Alexey Kondakov (previously) lifts figures out of classical paintings and drops them into modern-day photographs. Elegantly posed in dynamic lighting, his figures commute on public transit, dance in nightclubs, and peek around corners in otherwise mundane digital collages. The juxtaposition of the two worlds is humorous and at times seamless in its execution.
Through placement and shadows, Kondakov’s images sell the idea that the classical figures are three-dimensional objects photographed in a three-dimensional world. An image from an upcoming nightlife series depicts a mostly nude woman in a unique pose that, in context, can be read as dancing. Other images from his ongoing “Daily Life of Gods” use architecture and landscapes to ground the painted figures in an alternate reality.
To see more of his period-blending collages, give Alexey Kondakov a follow on Instagram.
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Toronto-based artist Jennifer Murphy combines cutouts of animals, plants, and other organic objects to create large-scale nature collages. Strung together using gossamer thread, the collages form the silhouettes of birds and surreal outdoor scenes from Murphy’s imagination.
The artist sources images of varying color and scale from nature magazines and textbooks and uses them as the pieces to much larger puzzles. The collages are wall-mounted, often without frames, which makes the oversized butterflies and birds appear as if they are floating in mid-air against the white gallery walls. A series of Murphy’s recent works, The Shadow of Sirius, was exhibited at Clint Roenisch Gallery in Toronto from September 5 through October 12, 2019. Murphy said in a statement that it was the loss of a close friend a decade ago that prompted her shift to making larger scale pieces. “The work was a way to cope with the grief but also an outlet to hope. This series comes at another time of loss, both personal and I believe collective. We now live in a time of ecological mourning and are in desperate need for paths to rediscover hope.”
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Towering female figures fill the frame in large-scale collages by Johanna Goodman (previously). Using a range of contemporary and historic materials and visual motifs, ranging from bright red glitter to greyscale photos of classical sculptures, Goodman builds powerful protagonists from disparate materials. Elongated torsos are with clipped vintage photos, contemporary model shots, and even sculptures and paintings. Goodman places each figure in an imagined landscape—often oceanside or celestial—with the open horizon adding to the grandiosity of each “Imaginary Being”.
The multidisciplinary artist uses a combination of her own photographs of everyday objects and places combined with found images. Goodman noted in an interview with Create that she is fastidious about using images that are in the public domain, though it can be limiting particularly when sourcing historical images of diverse women.
Goodman has created almost 400 plates in the “Imaginary Beings” which started nearly four years ago. “It is still going strong, and no one is more surprised than I am!” the artist tells Colossal. “At its inception I had no idea that what I was doing was inventing my own language, or a template, wherein I could endlessly experiment, explore, and process everything in my world.”
She continues to draw inspiration from a disparate range of sources: “I’m inspired by fashion, nature, science, politics, painting, sculpture, traveling, signage, tag sales, architecture, textiles, bugs, outer space, you name it. And the beauty is that there are no rules, no boundaries; I get to play with all of it.” Goodman also touches on current events, particularly stories and issues that center women. She explains to Colossal that in 2018 she created a piece based on Christine Blasey Ford, as well as all the women elected to Congress. More recently, a trip to Los Angeles inspired a series using the photos she took there. “The possibilities are endless and I still feel as inspired and hungry as I felt when the project began,” Goodman says.
See if you measure up to Goodman’s figures—some of which measure six feet tall—at her upcoming solo show. “Selections from the Catalogue” is on view November 21, 2019 through January 17, 2020 at David Weeks Studio in New York City. Goodman also offers prints of her work in an online store, and shares recent projects and artistic inspirations on Instagram.
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