Trees Burst from 100 Elementary Desks in Hugh Hayden’s Installation Addressing the Disparities of Public Education
Four lawns in New York’s Madison Square Park are now sites of a sprawling and insightful public installation by artist Hugh Hayden. On view through April 24, “Brier Patch” is comprised of 100 small wraparound desks arranged in neat grids evocative of an elementary classroom. Each cedar sculpture is distinct with barren, bark-covered branches bursting from their seats or tabletops, creating a snarled explosion of limbs and twigs that’s impossible to permeate.
Similar to his thorny dining sets in material and aesthetic, the metaphorical works speak to the inequities of education and cite the inherent barriers to achievement. The installation’s name references the tangled mass of prickly vegetation, an environment that’s only hospitable to some. It also draws on the stories of the trickster Br’er Rabbit, a folklore tradition that originated in West and Southern Africa before being repackaged as Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus stories. In those tales, the rabbit outwits his foes and finds refuge in the largely inaccessible thicket.
In addition to “Brier Patch,” Hayden’s Boogey Men, a solo show responding to cultural issues and a harsh political environment, is on view through April 17 in Miami. Explore more of the Dallas-born artist’s works on his website and Instagram.
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Skillshare Classes to Keep Your Creative Energy Flowing All Winter Long
In preparation for both winter and the need to pull ourselves away from the news, we’ve gathered a selection of Skillshare courses that we’re loving here at Colossal. This new grouping features multi-lesson courses focused on various mediums to channel your creative energy, whether through portraiture, personal essays, or visual storytelling. For even more art, design, and illustration lessons, check out our previous recommendations from the popular online platform, too.
Artist Chris Hong is adept at sketching whimsical scenes and rich portraits, a skill she shares in a 12-part course. Aimed at those with some drawing experience, the class explores the basics of light, shadow, and structure and how to infuse renderings with life-like qualities.
Writer and editor Roxane Gay is known for crafting nuanced essays that expertly connect personal moments with larger conversations about race, gender, and identity. Through 11 lessons, Gay offers practical advice about generating ideas, research, and prepping for publication for writers of all backgrounds: “Whether you want to finish your memoir, develop your writing craft, or explore putting pen to paper for the first time, your voice matters. This class is a jumpstart to finding your voice, your story, and sharing it with the world.”
There’s a bleak outlook for travel in the next few months, but Chicago-based photographer trashhand teaches students how to find the otherwise unseen beauty in our immediate surroundings. You’ll want to have some basic photography knowledge prior to joining either his street or cityscape classes, which dive into techniques for taking candids, conveying motion, and shooting upward to capture abstract architectural shots.
Writer, educator, and designer Debbie Millman chats with four renowned creatives—Giorgia Lupi, Adam J. Kurtz, Pam Butler, and Paul Sahre—in a series of exclusive interviews about the art of visual storytelling. Learn to combine art and narrative in a compelling, personal way through seven lessons.
There’s no shortage of articles laying out the ever-elusive ideal routine for creatives, complete with varying rituals and habits. Despite their diverse approaches, the single throughline seems to be that we all need to find what works best for us, a notion that Skillshare founder Michael Karnjanaprakorn adopts. Designed for workers of all stripes, the quick 35-minute course teaches students to map out their weeks and shares strategies for prioritizing, scheduling, and crafting “short-term systems for long-term success.”
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Skillshare Classes to Engage Your Creativity through Watercolor Flora, Striking Posters, and Houseplant Care
Considering many of you found our previous Skillshare picks useful, we thought we’d share another selection of courses from the popular online platform that we’re loving here at Colossal. This next round encompasses art, design, and even the basics of home gardening in simple, multi-lesson units. If you need some completely offline entertainment, check out these modern puzzles and DIY kits, too.
Designed for novices, this watercolor course by illustrator Rosalie Haizlett teaches the basics of rendering natural features. She’ll walk through taking reference photos, sketching, layering paint, and adding texture to create vibrant mushrooms and ferns.
Based in East Sussex, artist Seb Lester (previously) guides students through essential calligraphy techniques in his 15-lesson course. You’ll learn to write your name with elegant flourishes and even get a printable workbook for an extra dose of instruction.
Designers Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips offer a basic graphic design course that explains the principles of scale, framing, grids, and hierarchy. Previous students have designed a variety of spreads like the one above, and the instructors say the main takeaway is this: “Graphic design is all about relationships — the relationships between one design element and another, that element and the page, and that element and yourself.”
Learn to adorn hand-drawn letters with beautiful florals in Gemma O’Brien’s 12 lessons. The Australian artist utilizes drawing techniques with digital collage, creating a dramatic combination of the two.
Based on his own poster-a-day project, digital artist and photographer Temi Coker is offering a course focused on merging type and images into striking posters. He leads students through capturing the right images and Photoshop basics and even provides a guide for sharing work on social media.
While this pick has a slightly different focus, it’ll still get your hands just as dirty as learning to use watercolor or hand-lettering with ink. Botanist Chris Satch from The Sill teaches potting techniques, basic care, troubleshooting, and ways to ensure that your houseplants thrive.
Alanna Cartier knows that capturing high-quality and effective photographs of artwork can be difficult. In her 11-lesson course for all skill levels, the Toronto-based artist and illustrator teaches how to take effective images for social media and online shops without spending an entire day.
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Skillshare Classes to Keep You Busy—and Give You a Break from the News—While Social Distancing
As many of us are stuck at home the next few weeks due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus, Colossal aims to help fill the hours both productively—and unproductively—with some fun lists of activities: think art podcasts, animated shorts, online classes, our favorite art documentaries streaming now, and a few great new books. So log off Twitter, block the news for a few hours, and distract yourself from the ebb and flow of global anxiety. Today we start with Skillshare, an innovative online platform offering creative courses ranging from illustration and design to creative writing and marketing. Here are some of our favorite courses available now, many taught by artists and designers previously mentioned here on Colossal.
Take a drawing class with New York-based artist Shantell Martin (previously). She offers two courses designed for all levels using what she terms “low-maintenance” materials, like simple pens and drawing apps.
Learn to letter with Jessia Hische. The San Francisco-based illustrator, who has an impressive client list, has released three classes, including one designing book covers and two others focusing on text-based projects.
Detroit-born designer Aaron Draplin offers a course designed to “celebrate your grandma and all the weird sh*t your dad says by designing your family crest.” In other words, he teaches attendees the basics of logo design.
Sara Boccaccini Meadows combines watercolor and gouache in a class that teaches students to create a lush, botanical garden. The Brooklyn-based illustrator talks through sketching, mixing colors, layering paints, and adding detail.
For those hoping to build a brand, photographer and creative consultant Gareth Pon (previously) provides a staggering statistic: there are more than 300 million Instagram accounts. Pon’s course teaches best practices for getting noticed, from perfecting your profile to consistency to cross-posting.
A simple program based on daily practice, Brent Eviston’s The Art & Science of Drawing is created for beginners hoping to learn the fundamentals of shape, proportion, and shading.
Eviston offers a similar class focused on anatomical forms and bodies, although The Art & Science of Figure Drawing is geared toward those who already have a solid understanding of drawing basics.
Create a short clip with American director and stop-motion animator PES (previously), who shares insights behind developing concepts, determining narratives, getting the film, and editing a stop-motion project in his course.
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Design History Illustration
Cross-Sections of Geological Formations and Views of the Cosmos Bring the World to Life in 19th Century Educational Charts
In 1887 Levi Walter Yaggy published the Geographical Portfolio – Comprising Physical, Political, Geological, and Astronomical Geography with his publishing company, Western Publishing House of Chicago. The popular set of maps and charts (an expanded second edition was released six years later) was intended for teachers to use in classroom settings. The two by three-foot sheets used clever composite images to convey the range of topography and animals around the world, resulting in dense caves and steep mountain peaks that could be straight out of a fantasy novel.
In addition to their imaginative designs and eye-catching color palettes, Yaggy made strides in the teaching aid field by incorporating interactive elements. Each set included a 3-dimensional relief map of the United States and latches revealed hidden diagrams on individual charts. Unfortunately, despite his forward-thinking designs, Yaggy did include the era’s all-too-common racist depictions of non-white populations on some of his cultural maps.
You can explore the full range of Yaggy’s Geographical Portfolio via digital scans on David Rumsey’s map website (where they are available as on-demand prints and as high-resolution downloads), and learn more about the charts on National Geographic. (via this isn’t happiness)
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Join Colossal and DonorsChoose.org in Filling Classrooms in Need with Art Supplies
Whether you’re an established professional working with a top gallery, a weekend tinkerer, or a student tackling personal projects, here at Colossal we believe that your creativity enriches our world. The incredible range of art created by artists of all ages, from all backgrounds, all over the planet, is the lifeblood of our publication. That’s why, in this season of giving and receiving, Colossal is excited to partner with DonorsChoose.org to help support young artists.
DonorsChoose.org is a New York-based nonprofit that makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you.
We’ve selected a range of art-focused projects from around the U.S., including requests for basic art supplies as well as specific needs for exploring particular techniques and materials. Each project page lets you know about the teacher and students who benefit from our collective support; how and why the supplies will be used; and includes a specific breakdown of every item and expense on the classroom’s wish list. Or, simply make a donation at the top of the page and your donation will be automatically distributed.
Why do today’s students need our support? While many students in the US are fortunate to receive arts education, 17% of elementary school students receive no instruction in visual arts, and 96% of students receive no instruction in theater. And schools with higher rates of students in poverty are less likely to provide arts education (source). Youth of color in the United States are also half as likely as their white peers to be given access to arts education, a gap that has worsened over the last three decades (source).
So, is this also a question of policy? Absolutely, and we encourage you to drop a postcard in the mail or make a phone call to your elected representatives. DonorsChoose.org is helping public school teachers close the gap for their students by connecting educators and communities. We’ll be adding new projects and keeping a running tally of the total amount we’re raising as a community on our Colossal x DonorsChoose.org Page. Together, we can help tomorrow’s artists today.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.