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Art

Antidote: Organic Lifeforms Rendered with Prussian Blue Create Vivid Ecosystems by Yellena James

October 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Yellena James, courtesy of Stephanie Chefas Projects, shared with permission

Using a combination of acrylics, gouache, and ink, Yellena James cultivates brightly-hued ecosystems ripe with lines, patterns, and nature-based motifs. The Portland-based artist paints organic forms that resemble both marine species like coral and kelp in addition to full-bloom flowers, creating brilliant, labyrinth-like ecosystems. Although Prussian blue ink has been a mainstay in James’s practice for years, she recently discovered that the specific color serves as a remedy for certain toxic metal poisonings. This realization spurred the series shown here, which is aptly named Antidote. Each work features the vibrant hue in some capacity.

If you’re in Portland, check out James’s solo show at Stephanie Chefas Projects through October 10. To see the artist’s works in progress, head to Instagram, and try your hand at similar drawings with James’s book, Star, Branch, Spiral, Fan: Learn to Draw from Nature’s Perfect Design Structures. (via Supersonic Art)

 

 

 



Art

The Coral Greenhouse: Jason deCaires Taylor's Latest Installation is an Underwater Sanctuary for Vulnerable Sea Creatures

August 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Jason deCaires Taylor, shared with permission

About 50 miles from Townsville, Australia, an unassuming structure created by Jason deCaires Taylor (previously) rests on the sandy floor the John Brewer Reef. Currently, “The Coral Greenhouse” is in pristine condition with little algae or tiny organisms stuck to its sides. Over time, though, the sculptural work is designed to amass vibrant clusters of the sea creatures as they colonize the submerged form.

Constructed with corrosion-resistant stainless steel and pH-neutral substances, the biomorphic frame is modeled after nature’s patterns. The materials help inspire coral growth and are designed to be absorbed into the oceanic environment as the colonies sprawl across it. Workbenches line its sides and are adorned with simple patterns that create small enclaves for ocean life to hide from predators or rest. To keep divers away from the fragile ecosystems, Taylor tends to install his marine projects in less vulnerable areas.

Weighing 165 tons, the sanctuary is the Museum of Underwater Art’s largest installation to date. The A-frame structure is comprised of triangular sections and a massive cement base, which provide stability from waves and adverse weather. Its slatted sides allow divers, filter-feeding organisms, and schools of fish to swim in and out, and floating spires that protrude from the beams’ apex oscillate with the currents.

Figurative sculptures, which were made from casts of kids around the world, populate the inside to serve as a reminder that the coral needs care. They’re shown cradling planters, peering into microscopes, and watching over the vulnerable environment. “Thus they are tending to their future, building a different relationship with our marine world, one which recognizes it as precious, fragile, and in need of protection. Our children are the guardians of the Great Barrier Reef,” Taylor writes about the piece.

Dives to tour the site-specific installation will begin in 2021. Until then, get an idea of how some of Taylor’s previous works have transformed after being submerged for more than a dozen years on his Instagram. (via Fast Company)

 

 

 



Art

Bizarre Porcelain Sculptures by Artist Morel Doucet Tangle Limbs, Seashells, and Coral

August 4, 2020

Grace Ebert

“White Noise, Let the choir sing a magnified silence (25 Affirmation)” (2017), slip-cast porcelain and hand-built and altered forms, 5 x 5 feet. All images by David Gary Lloyd and Pedro Wazzan and © Morel Doucet, shared with permission

Based in Miami, artist Morel Doucet imbues his surreal artworks with a reminder that the natural world is ripe with entanglements. Often monochromatic, the slip-cast and hand-built porcelain pieces merge flora and fauna into dense amalgamations: a series of naked figures sit with coral, safety pins, and starfish as heads, while other assemblages feature a singular arm or pair of legs jutting out from a mass of sea creatures.

Doucet not only considers how humans are damaging the environment but also who is most likely to suffer in the process. In the series White Noise: When Raindrop Whispers and Moonlight Screams in Silence, he responds to the impacts of the climate crisis and ecological disaster on communities of color in the Miami area. “The beaches are eroding into the sea, coral reefs are turning bleach white, and residents wait tentatively for seawater rise. Everywhere you look Miami is undergoing drastic infrastructure changes trying to gear up for a losing battle against land and sea,” he shares with Colossal. “I believe these communities will experience the greatest climate exodus within our modern times.”

Doucet’s recent endeavors include an upcoming series called Water grieves in the six shades of death that will respond to climate-gentrification and its impact on communities with lower incomes.  Follow the artist’s sculptural considerations on Instagram. (via The Jealous Curator)

 

“Jaded Moonlight (Gardenia)”

“White Noise, Let the choir sing a magnified silence (25 Affirmation)” (2017), slip-cast porcelain and hand-built and altered forms, 5 x 5 feet

“Black Madonna & Venus”

“Regal Black Madonna (black is black, black is motherhood)” (2019), porcelain ceramic with cast altered forms, 22 to 24 inches in diameter

“When all the gold fell from the sun (Fall from Grace)” (2019), slip-cast porcelain ceramics

“The black on my back dances in a room full of to many silence part 2” (2019), slip-cast porcelain ceramic and hand altered forms, 6.5 x 10 x 5.5 inches

 

 



Art Craft

Playful Ocean Life Sprawls Throughout Mulyana's Immersive, Knit Installations

July 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Big Mogus” (2020), yarn and dacron, 96 1/2 × 18 7/8 × 22 1/8 inches. All images © Mulyana, shared with permission

Complete with spiraled tentacles, textured features, and toothy grins, the yarn-based creatures that Indonesian artist Mulyana knits and crochets take a playful, bizarre approach to ocean life. The artist frequently recreates what he refers to as the mogus, or octopus, as a mainstay in his underwater environments. Dotted with multiple sets of eyes, the creature has various iterations ranging in size, color, facial contortions, and number of tentacles. Each billowing mogus is presented suspended from the ceiling, giving it the appearance of floating through the ocean.

While many of Mulyana’s formations are brightly colored, the pieces in his Bety series (shown below) are crafted entirely in white to draw attention to coral bleaching caused by pollution. To maintain his own commitments to sustainability and community, Mulyana re-purposes the yarn that forms his textured corals and ocean life.

If you’re in New York, Mulyana’s sea creatures can be seen at Sapar Contemporary through August 21. Otherwise, keep up with the artist’s vibrant projects on Instagram, and check out where the mogus heads on its next adventure.

 

“Harmony 14” (2019), yarn, Dacron, cable wire, and plastic net, 41 3/4 × 60 5/8 × 17 3/4 inches

Left: “Mogus 39” (2020), yarn and dacron, 14 1/8 × 29 7/8 × 5 1/8 inches

“Bety 1” (2020), yarn, dacron, cable wire, and plastic net, 73 5/8 × 37 3/8 × 20 1/8 inches

Big Mogus” (2020), yarn and dacron, 96 1/2 × 18 7/8 × 22 1/8 inches

 

 



Craft

Countless Hand-Scored Notches Comprise Aquatic Sculptures by Lisa Stevens

January 7, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Lisa Stevens, shared with permission

From her home studio near Bristol, Lisa Stevens designs heavily detailed sculptures that mimic sea life and natural elements. Her small bowls are complete with ridges and plant-like protrusions, while her organ-shaped sculptures are teeming with seemingly endless dots and scores that imitate coral reefs, flowers, minerals, moss, and lichen. Formerly a sculptor for Aardman Animations, Stevens forgoes stamps, texture sheets, or molds to craft each mark with a small set of tools, ensuring no pieces are identical. Most of her works are made of high-fired porcelain clay that becomes translucent when light shines through it. The sculptor often uses stoneware glazes, underglaze, or melted glass to finish her pieces with vibrant pigments.

Stevens said in an artist’s statement that she intends “to highlight the issues that human activity has on the environment. Small differences in each of our behaviours can add up to make a big difference.” More of Steven’s geologically inspired sculptures can be found on Instagram, and some are even available for purchase on Etsy.

 

 



Art

Animals Evolve into Islands Teeming With Coral, Succulents, and Tropical Fish in Hyperrealist Paintings by Lisa Ericson

August 8, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

“Anchor,” 20”x24”, Acrylic on panel

Lisa Ericson (previously) deftly paints animals in scenes that reach outside of their natural environments, creating unique relationships that defy the natural order of the animal kingdom. In her newest series a deer, flamingo, and multiple turtles form miniature ecosystems in glassy blue water. Coral sprouts from the hooves and legs of the two larger creatures, while brilliant flowers and butterflies surround the smaller turtles. These paintings are featured in Ericson’s current exhibition Islands, which runs through August 25, 2019 at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon. You can see more of her beautifully rendered plants and animals on Instagram.

“Pollinate,” 16”x16”, Acrylic on panel

Detail of “Pollinate,” 16”x16”, Acrylic on panel

Detail of “Pollinate,” 16”x16”, Acrylic on panel

“Bleach,” 16”x20”, Acrylic on panel, all images via Antler Gallery

“Harvest,” 20”x24”, Acrylic on panel

“Pollinate II,” 16”x16”, Acrylic on panel