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Art

Colorful Crayon Animals by Herb Williams Illustrate Impacts of the Climate Crisis

August 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Phantom Limb(s).” All images by John Brown, © Herb Williams, shared with permission

Bolstering his ongoing body of work confronting the climate crisis, two new sculptures by Nashville-based artist Herb Williams (previously) address the interconnected impacts of environmental catastrophe and disastrous human consumption from the perspective of animals. A fawn, a pair of narwhals, and a small arctic fox compose the colorful menagerie, with a melting chunk of a glacier, cut branches, and sliced tree trunk completing the crayon-based ecosystems. The artist’s works are particularly timely following the IPCC’s bleak report earlier this month and recent climate-related tragedies, like fires ripping across California and Utah, Greece, and Siberia and a tropical storm that hit Haiti just days after the country was devasted by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake.

Both of Williams’ pieces rely equally on subject matter and medium to convey the urgency of the issues, as with the bands of color embedded within the fawn’s legs and hunks of wood in “Phantom Limb(s).” Bold, vibrant stripes illustrate the animals’ interpretations of deforestation and the potential for synesthesia, a condition allowing sounds to manifest visually. “The growth rings travel on as a sort of sonar after the tree is cut, and the animals see and hear the ripple effect as the loss is felt throughout the forest,” Williams says.

Similarly in the tusk-framed piece titled “Adrift,” distinct blocks of color encircle the drifting mass and bottom half of the narwhals’ bodies, showing the enduring effects of environmental disasters “similar to how the bands of sediment are left in homes after floodwaters recede,” he writes. “The bands are in the colors of black (oil spills), red (wildfires), green (irradiated waters from reactor spills), and even gold from luxury billionaire yachts running aground.”

Williams is currently working on six large-scale sculptures for the Atlanta International Airport, and you can follow his progress on Instagram.

 

Detail of “Adrift”

Detail of “Phantom Limb(s)”

Detail of “Phantom Limb(s)”

“Adrift”

Detail of “Adrift”

Detail of “Adrift”

“Phantom Limb(s)”

 

 



Design

Create a Kaleidoscopic Coloring Experience with goober's Stackable Block Crayons

April 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © goober, shared with permission

goober’s brightly hued crayons are designed for mixing and matching, creating unique kaleidoscopic marks with every use. The Seoul-based company manufactures natural bean-wax tools shaped in LEGO-like forms that can be stacked into firetrucks and trees as easily as they can draw them. Pick up a four-pack of cars or seasonal color palettes in the Colossal Shop.

 

 

 

 

 



Art

Fiery Crayon Sculptures and Busts by Herb Williams Confront the Climate Crisis

February 18, 2021

Grace Ebert

“First Fire.” All images © Herb Williams, by Hannah Deits, shared with permission

Herb Williams addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time—uncontrollable fires, hurricanes, and an impending lack of natural resources, to name a few—through an unusually playful medium. The Nashville-based artist creates colorful sculptures and busts from innumerable crayons, assembling textured works that simultaneously display the ubiquitous childhood tool while confronting the ongoing effects of the climate crisis.

Similar to the large-scale flames he created in response to Texas wildfires nearly a decade ago, Williams’ new pieces, like the river-stone-encircled campfire above, are based in collective experience. He writes:

The epic catastrophes, disasters, and pandemic are virtually impossible to navigate as adults, so I am trying to create works that will help children understand and eventually deal, most hopefully solve what we can’t one day. I’m exploring the myths we cling to comfort, deny or manage our way through without losing our collective humanity.

“First Fire” pairs with Three Graces of Climate Change, a trio of figurative sculptures that reinterpret the “Venus de Milo” through the lenses of wildfires, glacial melt, and deforestation. In one piece, bright blazes erupt from the shoulder and hip, and in another, the figure is sliced in two to reveal age rings similar to those of a tree.

Williams currently is working on six sculptures that’ll be on display at Atlanta International Airport. He’s also the curator at Nashville’s Rymer Gallery, where you can find a larger collection of his works.

 

“Venus of Wildfires”

“Venus of Glacial Melt”

“Venus of Deforestation”

 

 



Design

Color Outside the Lines with the Chunky, Squiggly Crayons Designed by Retoolings

December 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Retoolings, shared with permission

There’s one question looming over Keetra Dean Dixon’s designs: “To color or to keep?” Based in rural Alaska, Dixon is behind the bespoke crayon manufacturer, Retoolings, which has been melding primary hues, muted tones, and black-and-white waxes into asymmetric chunks and spiraled cylinders that are as much design pieces as they are creative instruments.

In a note to Colossal, Dixson writes that she first thought of the scaled-down objects after creating large sculptures with her partner. “While making the works, we followed the wax’s lead, letting the nature of the material guide the final form. So many beautiful bloopers happened alongside the main sculpture. It was difficult to keep myself from chasing the potential of those moments,” she says. The result is a quirky collection of crayons with distinctly contemporary aesthetics: terrazzo-style pillars, marbled crescents, and the now-ubiquitous squiggle.

All styles currently are out of stock, but Dixon plans to release more—along with a ballpoint pen—at the beginning of 2021. Follow her progress on Instagram.

 

 

 



Animation Music

Kids Across North America Colored Over 3,000 Frames to Illustrate an Animated Music Video

July 10, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

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)

 

 



Amazing Science

The Surprising Result of Crushing Non-Newtonian Fluids and Crayons in a Hydraulic Press

April 29, 2018

Christopher Jobson

Warning: strong language. Over on the Hydraulic Press Channel, Finnish factory owners Lauri and Anni devised an awesome experiment to force a variety of soft objects like cheese, soap, and crayons through a plate drilled with holes with the help of their famous hydraulic press. The result is as funny as it is incredible, especially the squished crayons that seem to sprout straight up like sticks. The press is set to exert 150 bars of pressure (2,175 pounds per square inch) sending the various materials squirting in every direction in genuinely surprising ways. I’ve probably watched a few dozen of their videos over the years, and this is an instant favorite.

 

 

A Colossal

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