Los Angeles-based artist Sam Keller creates playful works centered around his interest in twisting new narratives from everyday objects. He transforms a flattened Coca-Cola or La Croix can into a beautiful gleaming object coated in Swarovski crystals and sculpts giant Cheetos in hollow spheres and small stacks. Each work sheds light on consumption and capitalism’s grip on society. “My use of unpreserved junk foods I’m hoping should prompt a re-examination of the foods we decide to consume as well,” the artist shares. “For the record, I stopped eating Cheetos years ago.”
While growing up in Brooklyn, Keller was drawn to the environment surrounding him, often finding and collecting objects from the streets, which still informs his work today. “My teenage bedroom was decorated with advertisements I removed from subway cars, a satellite dish that I painted on, and once to my parent’s dismay, I even brought home a toppled parking meter,” Keller tells Colossal. Today, he sources many smashed cans from discarded waste around him and decorates them in colorful crystals.
The artist studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and focused on drawing found objects, food, and “off-shoot materials for their built-in language and cultural significance.” Except for high-end glass, many of the items he uses are relatively common. “It only takes two large bags (of Cheetos) to make a ‘Cheetosphere’ sculpture, so from a practical standpoint, a vitrine to protect one of those is the most expensive component,” he explains.“I’m always looking for new objects and materials to incorporate into my practice while continuing to evolve my existing ideas and interests. I feel like I’m chasing an indescribable vision in my mind, and I’ll only know when I get there.”
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Artist and jewelry designer Debra Baxter (previously) explores the endurance of grief, mortality, and human bonds in Love Tears. Comprised of anatomical and figurative sculptures, the multifaceted series blend alabaster, quartz, and wood with delicate glass or metal to create forms that contrast the fragility of the body and natural world with the rugged topographies of crystals and rock.
Simultaneously corporeal and unearthly, the spliced works evoke the Victorian tradition of mourning jewelry, which used various motifs and deep colors as memorials. In “Catch Your Breath,” for example, branch-like veins in bronze sprawl throughout crystalline lungs, while “Love Hard” bisects a smooth, glass heart with spiky quartz. “There’s inevitable pain in every form of love,” Baxter says about the series. “I’m fascinated by the ways in which we decorate this grief and mourning, and I wanted to see how far I could push myself with balancing the immediate, often ornate, demonstration of loss, and my use of permanent materials. This is about loss and legacy.”
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A Dizzying Carpet of Crystals Blankets a Salon in the Royal Palace Amsterdam with Prismatic Patterns
The latest installation by Dutch artist Suzan Drummen (previously) masks a stately salon in the Royal Palace Amsterdam with a gleaming carpet of crystals placed in psychedelic swirls. A response to the Golden Age-era architecture, the bright colors of Drummen’s work are intended to clash with the rich, muted hues of the furniture and walls. Because each individual crystal is laid by hand and left unsecured, the labor-intensive process took a team of four nine days to complete.
Equally mesmerizing and disorienting, Drummen’s elaborate installations often rely on a combination of patterns, reflection, and a three-dimensional texture that creates a dizzying effect. Much of her work is informed by the overwhelming amount of information in today’s world that can spark confusion and uncertainty, which she explains:
Phenomena like these alarm me as a person, but as a maker, I’m inspired by that dizzying multiplicity. I‘m interested in things that dazzle us, and in my work, I try to ramp that up. It’s an ongoing quest, with a constant interplay between seriousness, fear, playfulness, and hope. Above all I want it to be vibrant and vital.
Drummen’s piece is on view through October 3 as part of Trailblazers, a group exhibition inviting past recipients of The Royal Award for Modern Painting to show their works within the palace’s halls. Explore a larger collection of the Amsterdam-based artist’s projects on her site and Instagram.
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Anchorage-based creative Paxson Woelber has captured stunning photographs that illuminate the massive ice formations he recently stumbled upon in an Alaskan cave. Part of Castner Glacier in the Eastern Alaska Range, the expansive chamber is replete with glimmering crystals that jut down from the ceiling in some areas and coat the walls in others.
Woelber shares with Colossal that he visited during a deep freeze that saw temperatures below -30 degrees Fahrenheit, and discovered that the cave was formed by a stream that opened near the back. Geothermal heat warms the interior, causing the higher temperature of the inside to meet the drier, cold air from the outside near the cave’s mouth. This interaction causes moisture in the air to condense, creating the giant formations.
The artist described the experience as feeling as if he were exploring the inner portions of an asteroid. “Near the mouth of the cave, branching tree-like crystals hung down over a foot from the roof of the cave,” he says. “Toward the back, the crystals were smaller and more tightly-packed, like the crystals on the inside of a huge geode.” Head to Woelber’s Instagram to check out footage from his visit.
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Artist Daniel Arsham (previously) re-envisions some of the most well-recognized sculptures of classical antiquity in Paris, 3020, his recent series of replications marred with lightly pigmented crystals. Both “Vénus de Milo” and Michelangelo’s “Moses” find their heads, arms, and torsos eroded in patches by blue calcite.
The New York-based artist spent a year inside the Réunion des Musées Nationaux – Grand Palais, a 200-year-old French studio known for reproducing iconic European works, where he gathered molds and scans of busts, sculptures, and friezes from the collections of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, Acropolis Museum in Athens, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the San Pietro in Vincoli. Arsham cast each recreated work in hydrostone—similar to wax casting—in order to produce the nearly exact replicas. The artist then chiseled the pieces, adding in his signature crystallization with volcanic ash, blue calcite, selenite, quartz, and rose quartz.
Paris, 3020 portrays Arsham’s exploration of the relationship between time and historically significant artifacts. “Making use of classical and ancient objects, this new body of work experiments with the timelessness of certain symbols,” said a release from Perrotin, where the exhibition will be on view from January 11 to March 21, 2020. Each sculpture is surrounded by series of graphite drawings depicting Ashram’s process in order order to “compress time, at once referencing the past, informing the present, and reaching towards a crystallized future.” Find more of Arsham’s time-warping projects on Instagram.
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Tattoo artist Makkala Rose creates dramatic botanical designs on her clients’ skin, incorporating richly toned flower blossoms, unctuous fruits, and life-like animal portraits. One recent commission involved completely covering a client’s back with a chiaroscuro “painting” featuring three burning candles, reflective glass and crystals, piles of ripe fruit, and a hanging bat on an inky black background.
Rose’s first love was painting, the artist tells Colossal. “One of my first memories was smearing bright purple paint from the pot onto a fresh sheet of paper stuck to an easel, and my love and fascination with art and creating has never ended.” Now that Rose spends most of her time tattooing, her background as a painter has come into dialogue with her ink work. “The feel and the mood brought through by my color palette and my style of tattooing is influenced by the way I like to paint and now vice versa as I spend a lot more time tattooing, they lend interestingly to each other,” says Rose.
The artist also has a strong personal connection to flowers and gardens (Rose tells Colossal that floristry would be her backup career), and she seeks to imbue her tattoo work with the joy that blossoms bring her. She spends time perusing different bouquet designs, photographing flowers in public gardens, and researching new plants and flowers to expand her repertoire, though peonies and blackberries are perennial favorites.
To create her most recent backpiece, shown above, Rose explains that she personally collected all the materials for the composition, from individual flowers to pitchers and crystals. She then arranged everything in a composition (minus the bat) and worked with a friend to take documentation photos in preparation for the tattoo design.
Rose hails from New Zealand, and travels frequently for her tattoo work, most often across the U.S., U.K., and New Zealand. See more of her designs on Instagram. Rose is usually booked several months out, but you can find out where she’ll be next on her website. If you enjoy Rose’s designs, also check out Esther Garcia’s inkwork.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
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