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Art History Illustration Photography Science

A New Book Plunges into the Vast Diversity of the World’s Oceans Across 3,000 Years

July 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Carl Chun, Polypus levis, from Die Cephalopoden (1910–15), color lithograph, 35 × 25 centimeters. Image from the Biodiversity Heritage Library/Contributed by MBLWHOI Library, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Library, Massachusetts. All images © Phaidon, shared with permission

Despite thousands of years of research and an unending fascination with marine creatures, humans have explored only five percent of the oceans covering the majority of the earth’s surface. A forthcoming book from Phaidon dives into the planet’s notoriously vast and mysterious aquatic ecosystems, traveling across the continents and three millennia to uncover the stunning diversity of life below the surface.

Spanning 352 pages, Ocean, Exploring the Marine World brings together a broad array of images and information ranging from ancient nautical cartography to contemporary shots from photographers like Sebastião Salgado and David Doubilet. The volume presents science and history alongside art and illustration—it features biological renderings by Ernst Haekcl, Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock prints, and works by artists like Kerry James Marshall, Vincent van Gogh, and Yayoi Kusama—in addition to texts about conservation and the threats the climate crises poses to underwater life.

Ocean will be released this October and is available for pre-order on Bookshop. You also might enjoy this volume devoted to birds.

 

NNtonio Rod (Antonio Rodríguez Canto), Trachyphyllia, from Coral Colors, (2016). Image © NNtonio Rod

Jason deCaires Taylor, “Rubicon” (2016), stainless steel, pH-neutral cement, basalt and aggregates, installation view, Museo Atlántico, Las Coloradas, Lanzarote, Atlantic Oceanl. Photo courtesy of the artist

Christian Schussele and James M. Sommerville, Ocean Life, (c.1859), watercolor, gouache, graphite, and gum arabic on off-white wove paper, 48.3 × 69.7 centimeters. Image courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Duke Riley, #34 of the Poly S. Tyrene Maritime Collection (2019), salvaged, painted plastic bottle, 30.5 × 18.4 × 7.6 centimeters Image courtesy of Duke Riley Studio

Nicolas Floc’h, Productive Structures, Artificial Reefs, -23m, Tateyama, Japan, (2013). Image © Nicolas Floc’h

 

 

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Art Design

Clusters of Diaphanous Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto Evoke the Ocean Floor

July 1, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mariko Kusumoto, shared with permission

Japanese artist and designer Mariko Kusumoto (previously) shapes gossamer coral and sea creatures from soft fibers like polyester, nylon, and cotton. Embedded with tiny ripples or airy pockets, the standalone sculptures and wearables are translucent renditions of lifeforms, and their delicate compositions correspond with the fragility of the subject matter. The Boston-based artist tends to cluster the individual pieces into larger works, creating sprawling reefs and diverse ecosystems brimming with color and texture.

Kusumoto is currently preparing for a solo exhibition next November at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida, and until then, you can find more of her ethereal works on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Craft Science

A Vibrant Coral Ecosystem of Thousands of Crocheted Sculptures Confronts the Climate Crisis

May 12, 2022

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Baden-Baden Satellite Reef.” All images courtesy of Museum Frieder Burda, shared with permission

A new report released this week by an Australian agency says that the 1,400-mile Great Barrier Reef has undergone its sixth mass bleaching. About 91 percent of the brightly colored marine ecosystems were affected by this most recent catastrophe, which occurs when water temperatures rise. Disasters like this are becoming more frequent as the climate crisis intensifies, prompting artists like Christine and Margaret Wertheim to respond with striking displays of what could be permanently lost.

The Australia-born, California-based sisters began the Crochet Coral Reef project in 2005 to confront the devastations of bleaching, overfishing, tourism, and agricultural contaminations through sprawling, labor-intensive environments. More than 40,000 of the oceanic works are now on view at the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden, transforming the gallery into textured ecosystems resting atop pillars and protected in glass cases. The Wertheims explain the project:

Like the organic beings they emulate, these handmade sculptures take time to make—time that is condensed in the millions of stitches on display; time that is running out for earthly creatures, including humans and cnidarians. Time forms a framework for the Reef project, for as CO2 escalates in our atmosphere time is increasingly in short supply, and what we choose to spend time on is a reflection of our values.

Part of the intention for Crochet Coral Reef is to involve local communities, and so far, almost 20,000 people have contributed their own fiber-based forms, with about 5,000 participating in the show in Baden-Baden alone. Since debuting at the 2019 Venice Biennale, the exhibition has traveled to more than 20 spaces from London and Dublin to Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.,  and will be on view at the Museum Frieder Burda until June 26. A complimentary satellite project is also up at the Tang Teaching Museum in Saratoga Springs, New York, through June 12.

Visit the Crochet Coral Reef site for more information on getting involved in the project and for chances to see the textile organisms in person. You also might enjoy Mulyana’s yarn ecosystems. (via artnet)

 

Detail of “Baden-Baden Satellite Reef,” part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project

Detail of “Baden-Baden Satellite Reef,” part of the worldwide Crochet Coral Reef project

Detail of “Baden-Baden Satellite Reef”

“Red Nudibranch Reef” (2022). Photo © IFF by Rebecca Rickman

Detail of “Baden-Baden Satellite Reef”

“Baden-Baden Satellite Reef”

Detail of “Baden-Baden Satellite Reef”

“Coral Forest” at Lehigh University Art Galleries, Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of LUAG by Stephanie Veto

 

 



Art Craft

Knit Coral Suits and Vibrant Marine Creatures Spring From Mulyana’s Whimsical Yarn-Based Ecosystems

January 26, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Mulyana, courtesy of Sapar Contemporary, shared with permission

In Mulyana’s Fragile Ecologies, two figures cloaked in coral and algae tower over beds of fiber-based sea creatures. The Indonesian artist continues his playful and eccentric approach to marine life conservation in his solo show on view through March 4 at Sapar Contemporary, which brings some of his life-sized costumes and an array of woolen specimens to the gallery. Each piece is knit or crocheted with recycled, brightly colored yarn, which the artist fashions into sprawling ecosystems and immersive installations that dangle from the ceiling.

Mulyana puts a fantastic twist on the natural lifeforms, especially when crafting his signature Mogus character: most recently, the reimagined octopus is outfitted with a mustache in leopard print, innumerable eyes all over its body, and polka-dotted horns. Lighthearted in presentation, the works are rooted in more urgent issues like the effects of the climate crisis, isolation, and how we collectively configure identities that are always evolving. A statement about Fragile Ecologies says:

On a macro level, Mulyana’s profound concern for the eroding environment and our collective lack of care for the natural world parallels the importance of self-care on a micro level. His message encourages a holistic path to self-preservation amidst a chaotic and uncertain post-pandemic world. While Mulyana does not overtly reference gender and sexuality in his intricate installations, the diversity of his colorful environments and spectacular costumes allude to the fluidity of human identity.

For more of Mulyana’s underwater knits and costumes, head to his site and Instagram.

 

A person wearing a knit costume evoking sea creatures by artist Mulyana.

 

 



Art

Exquisitely Cut Paper Sculptures by Rogan Brown Highlight the Effects of Coral Bleaching

November 4, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Ghost Coral.” All images © Rogan Brown, shared with permission

“The coral reef is a microcosm of a macrocosm,” says paper artist Rogan Brown. “What is happening to the reefs today will ultimately happen to the planet tomorrow unless action is taken.” Through new paper sculptures comprised of delicately fringed sea creatures, Brown (previously) creates a striking visual display of the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis on marine life, showing how issues like coral bleaching can radiate outward into the wider world.

In “Ghost Coral,” two circular reliefs comprised of intricate paper cuttings splay outward, layering the fragile lifeforms sliced from stark, white paper. These monochromatic pieces contrast their vibrant counterparts, which are nestled into the protective center of one of the masses. The other work, titled “Coral Garden,” is Brown’s interpretation of the heat-resistant organisms that scientists grow and plant in deteriorating patches for rejuvenation, and he places bright, healthy creatures, which are enclosed in transparent bubbles, within swaths of spindly, pale creatures. To create both pieces, Brown follows the same meticulous process, which involves drawing the organisms, cutting them out with a laser, and carefully hand-painting and mounting them into their final, sprawling forms. “The fragility and delicacy of paper seem to fit perfectly with the subject it is describing,” he tells Colossal.

The exquisitely crafted assemblages shown here are part of an ongoing series, which Brown will show this month at Galerie Bettina von Arnim in Paris, and you can keep up with his work on Instagram.

 

Detail of “Coral Garden”

Detail of “Ghost Coral”

“Ghost Coral”

Detail of “Ghost Coral”

“Coral Garden”

“Ghost Coral”

Detail of “Coral Garden”

 

 



Art

Hundreds of Ceramic Marine Creatures Radiate in Gradients to Show the Effects of Coral Bleaching

October 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Revolve” (2021), glazed stoneware and porcelain, 168 x 335 x 35 centimeters. All images © Courtney Mattison, shared with permission

Two new site-specific pieces by Courtney Mattison (previously) position ceramic sculptures of corals, sponges, and anemones in a swirling cluster of ocean diversity. Titled “Revolve” and “Our Changing Seas VII,” the wall reliefs are the latest additions to the Los Angeles-based artist’s body of work, which advocates for ecological preservation by highlighting the beauty and fragile nature of marine invertebrates.

In both installations, Mattison contrasts the vibrant, plump tentacles of healthy creatures with others sculpted in white porcelain to convey the devastating effects of the climate crisis, including widespread bleaching. Her recurring subject matter is becoming increasingly urgent, considering recent reports that estimate that 14 percent of the world’s coral population has been lost in the last decade alone.

Each of the lifeforms is hand-built and pocked with minuscule grooves and textured elements—she shares this meticulous process on Instagram—and once complete, the individual sculptures are assembled in sweeping compositions that radiate outward in shifting gradients. “Water connects us all, from the lush banks of Lawsons Fork Creek to the icy glaciers of the Arctic and glittering reefs of Southeast Asia. Life on Earth is dependent on healthy oceans,” she shares about “Revolve.” “The swirling design of this work is inspired by these connections and patterns, with revolving forms repeated in nature through hurricanes, seashells, ocean waves, and galaxies.”

Mattison’s solo exhibition Turn the Tide is on view at Highfield Hall & Gardens in Massachusetts through October 31 before it travels to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where it will be through May 1, 2022. You explore a larger archive of the artist’s marine works on Behance and her site.

 

Detail of “Our Changing Seas VII” (2021), glazed stoneware and porcelain, 213 x 350 x 40 centimeters

Detail of “Revolve” (2021), glazed stoneware and porcelain, 168 x 335 x 35 centimeters

“Our Changing Seas VII” (2021), glazed stoneware and porcelain, 213 x 350 x 40 centimeters

Detail of “Revolve” (2021), glazed stoneware and porcelain, 168 x 335 x 35 centimeters

Detail of “Our Changing Seas VII” (2021), glazed stoneware and porcelain, 213 x 350 x 40 centimeters

“Revolve” (2021), glazed stoneware and porcelain, 168 x 335 x 35 centimeters