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Art

Ornate Fabrics Cloak Models in Disquieting Portraits by Artist Markus Åkesson

June 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

“The Grove” (2020), oil on canvas, 180 x 140 centimeters. All images © Markus Åkesson, shared with permission

Swedish artist Markus Åkesson enshrouds his subjects in elaborately patterned silks and satins, leaving only the impression of their faces, limbs, and torsos visible. An extension of his ongoing Now You See Me series, the artist’s latest paintings continue his exploration of repetition and the unsettling feelings evoked by being wrapped in fabric. By completely covering his models, they “became a secret. Instead, I started to tell a story within the pattern itself, like a sub-narrative in the painting,” he writes.

Åkesson’s pieces begin with designing the traditional, florid motifs that are printed onto the largely unshaped fabrics. The artist then envelops models in the textiles before posing the subjects for the discomfiting portraits. “I have always been interested in patterns, I am drawn to the repetition and the rhythm,” he tells Colossal. “I did a lot of paintings with people that were surrounded by patterns, different surfaces, and materials, almost drowning in them. Eventually, they became completely covered in fabrics.”

Åkesson’s work will be on view this fall at Da-End Gallery in Paris. Until then, follow his heavily patterned paintings on Instagram.

 

“At the heart of it all (2020), oil on canvas, 60 x 50 centimeters

“Now You See Me” (2019), oil on canvas, 180 x 140 centimeters

“Yellow Veil” (2019), oil on canvas

“Now you see me (Dysmorphia 10)” (2018), oil on canvas, 145 x 100 centimeters

“Now you see me (Blue and Gold Kimono)” (2019), oil on canvas, 180 x 140 centimeters

“In the quiet morning” (2020), oil on canvas, 145 x 100 centimeters

“Danse Macabre” (2020), oil on canvas, 145 x 100 centimeters

 

 



Art

Human Metamorphosis Embodied in Rosemary Holliday Hall's Oxidized Chrysalises

May 27, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Rosemary Holliday Hall by Aron Gent, shared with permission

Chicago-based artist Rosemary Holliday Hall envisions transformation through Encyclia Imagosis, a sculptural series that brings the physical processes of insect metamorphosis to a human scale. The four artworks consist of oxidized fabric stretched across metal structures, creating a translucent form that highlights the spacious shape of the wireframe. Similar to insect chrysalises, the meshy works serve as a symbolic site for change. “Encyclia Imagosis investigates various ways we make sense of the world and relate to ourselves and others through imagination, metaphor, and material,” the artist writes.

Holliday Hall envisioned the project as merging her own physicality with the metamorphic processes of “microbes, insects, pollinators, and decomposed, who construct and deconstruct our world, for inspiration into ways of being,” she says. “I made these sculptures to imagine what it would be like to be a caterpillar in a self-made structure, whose purpose was to hold my disintegrated body as it transforms into another body.”

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Holliday Hall says Encyclia Imagosis has become more immediate and visceral.

Some days, becoming unrecognizable to myself, it seems the world and our systems are slushy slop in individual COVID chrysalises, amidst a painful collective metamorphosis… Now, more than ever, we are faced with the fragility and interdependence of our own bodies and the systems we inhabit. I keep returning to the chrysalis, for both solace and inspiration in that, the chrysalis is a messy, painful, and disorienting space, but within the mush there are imaginal seeds for transformation.

For more of the artist’s projects that merge natural processes and art, check out her Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Photography

Swirling Fabrics Envelop Floating Subjects in Underwater Photographs by Christy Lee Rogers

January 27, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Christy Lee Rogers and Apple, shared with permission

By submerging her subjects into dark waters, Hawaii-born photographer Christy Lee Rogers creates images that explore human movement in a weightless environment. Commissioned by Apple, her most recent underwater series features intertwined figures surrounded by long, swirling fabrics that often mask parts of their bodies and faces as they float with outstretched limbs. Similar to her previous work, Rogers continues to illuminate the waters, giving her immersive pieces a distinct, painting-like quality.

Water is my collaborator. I feel like we are working together to create something that is not here in reality. I’ve just been experimenting with it to see how far I can push things—light and color and movement. Water has these dichotomies. It’s powerful and it’s dangerous, but then there’s beauty. Water is healing and nurturing and life giving, and because I think that’s how we are as humans, how do we find that balance?

Apple recently shared a short video about the series, and more of Rogers’s buoyancy-related projects can be found on Vimeo and Instagram.

 

 



Craft

Giant Fabric Butterfly and Moth Sculptures Hand-Crafted by Yumi Okita

December 22, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images © Yumi Okita, shared with permission

North Carolina-based artist Yumi Okita (previously) layers hand-painted fabric, embroidery thread, feathers, and faux fur to create large sculptures of insects. Each handmade moth and butterfly is one-of-a-kind, with coloration and patterning often inspired by existing species.

Okita’s fiber sculptures are designed to be hung from wires or displayed as free-standing works. The fabric wings on the insects measure up to 9.5 inches wide, while the furry creatures stand an impressive 3.5 to 4.5 inches tall. From a distance, they could be mistaken for the real thing, but a closer look reveals an intricate weave of materials and a vibrant array of colors.

The unique creations are sold via Yumi Okita’s Etsy shop, and you check out the growing specimen gallery over on Instagram.

 

 



Craft

Clay Shapes Bound to Fabric Create Multi-Layered Embroidered Works by Justyna Wolodkiewicz

December 18, 2019

Grace Ebert

All images © Justyna Wolodkiewicz, shared with permission

Using small polymer clay shapes, Justyna Wołodkiewicz (previously) creates embroidered works that extend beyond the fabric within the hoop. The Poland-based artist molds clay into tiny colorful pieces that she punctures with holes, positions at various angles, and binds with multi-colored thread. “What you see in my embroideries is highly filtered visual and sonic information'” Wolodkiewicz tells Colossal. “It travels through my eyes, brain, and hands, landing in the physical world again, this time in the shape of my hand-stitched pieces.”

The artist’s choice of color, composition, and texture are crucial components in her “micro-worlds” because “they convey a strong emotional message innate to human beings. They suggest very complicated nets of relationships. The upward stitches symbolize the way people are bonded with all that surrounds them,” she says.

Many of Wolodkiewicz’s three-dimensional creations are available for purchase, and you can stay connected with the artist on Instagram.

 

 



Design Photography

Journalist Rachel Lopez Documents the Delightfully Diverse Patterns on the Ceilings of Mumbai Taxis

November 22, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Rachel Lopez has a thing with… taxi ceilings. Instead of joining the 200,000+ Instagram posts hashtagged #ihavethisthingwithfloors, the lifelong Mumbai resident flips her phone’s camera into selfie mode. Lopez documents the vast array of eccentric plastic patterns covering the ceilings of her hailed rides, many of them taken in her frequent trips around the city as a journalist with the Hindustan Times.

Mumbai is home to about 58,000 metered taxis, and each one seems to feature a totally different interior aesthetic. Though many of the cars themselves are the same model, drivers often line the ceiling with colorful patterned plastic or vinyl to protect the easily-stained felt fabric. She prefers the traditional taxis to the newer influx of startup ride shares, despite the unpredictability of independent operators, who may decline a trip depending on the destination. Since April 2017, Lopez has been collecting consistently framed photos to track the diversity of designs she encounters.

“I live for the day a driver shows interest in my collection. Most of them, when I compliment them, merely grunt in acknowledgement,” Lopez tells Colossal. “They’re determinedly uninterested, for some reason. But a few of them will indulgently smile and get on with the ride. In Mumbai, if you’re a solo woman commuter, the driver is much more interested in whether you’re married, Indian politics, and how much money a journalist makes.”

As she continues her to add to her simple yet infinite collection, Lopez has enjoyed connecting with others. She displayed one hundred of her photos this February at Kala Ghoda Festival, which is Asia’s largest street festival for the arts. “I was keen to show on the street, not in a sanitized gallery, so everyday crowds could appreciate them,” says Lopez. “The response was overwhelming! The sheer diversity and number of designs are a surprise even to lifelong Mumbai residents (even I’m shocked that I still find new ones two years into the project). It’s one of the most gratifying outcomes of the series—being able to share with my beloved city the pictures I’d been quietly taking.”

Ride along with Lopez by following her on Instagram, and check out more customized rides in our article about the Mumbai-based TaxiFabric company. (via Kottke)

 

 

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