with found objects
Artist Stéphanie Kilgast (previously) envisions a vibrant, post-apocalyptic world overgrown with coral, fungi, and lush moss. Using cheap devices and disposable containers that tend to outlast their original function as her base, Kilgast creates painted-clay assemblages that are teeming with fantastical colors and texture: mushrooms sprout from an empty paint tube, sea creatures envelop a crushed can, and plant life cloaks a pair of headphones with whimsical botanicals.
Each of the works contrasts the enduring manufactured object with natural growth, imagining a universe that’s simultaneously devoid of humanity and still marred by its rampant consumption habits. “In that sense my work is joyous. I remove the root of the problem, us, and let all the other species just grow over our mistakes,” she shares. “Nature itself is full of bright colors. It’s inherently beautiful, and my work is an ode to all the living and existing species, (except) for us. Hope dies last, so I still hope my work opens up discussion, thinking, and eventually change.”
Currently based in Vannes, France, Kilgast has exhibitions at Comoedia in Brest, France, Modern Eden in San Francisco, and three at Melbourne’s Beinart Gallery slated for 2022. She also shares much of her process on YouTube and Instagram.
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Indiana-based artist Jessica Calderwood imbues her whimsically camouflaged figures with questions about the female psyche. Whether covered by a polka-dotted orb or stuck in a ruffled tube of fabric, her nondescript women are temporarily trapped by their environments, their only defining features the sleek black pumps or striped kneesocks that stick out from their disguise. This concealment, Calderwood says, serves as “a negation, a censoring or denial of what lies beneath. These anthropomorphic beings are at once, powerful and powerless, beautiful and absurd, inflated, and amputated.”
Deftly melding historical techniques with contemporary themes of identity, each of the works is rooted in traditional craftsmanship. A focus on mixed media is at the center of Calderwood’s broad body of work, which spans metalsmithing, jewelry, and wall-based ceramics, and many of her projects blend materials like enamel, porcelain, polymer clay, and felted wool to further evoke craft forms.
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Ohio-based artist Glen Taylor (previously) mends porcelain dinnerware with brutal bits of metal and soldering that starkly contrast their smooth, delicate counterparts. Lengths of rusted barbed wire bind two halves of a teacup, sharp spikes border a saucer painted with flowers, and mangled silverware is piled in messy assemblages reminiscent of dinner-party aftermath. In recent months, Taylor’s repaired interventions have grown in size and scope, from single-serving dishes patched with a pair of jeans to full-scale tables set for eight.
In a note to Colossal, the artist shares that he’s in the midst of preparing for an exhibition this fall, and you can keep an eye out for details about that show on Instagram.
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Wide spoons become muscular hind legs, pointed handles fan out into wings, and fork prongs curl around a branch like talons in Matt Wilson’s wildlife assemblages. Using found flatware and other metal objects, the Charleston-based artist (previously) welds sculptural renditions of birds, insects, and other small animals that appear lifelike and primed for movementt. He mounts the metallic sculptures on pieces of driftwood or smooth plaques—many of which are handcrafted by his friend Jacob Kent—that contrast the shining metal with the natural, grainy material.
Wilson has spent the last few years broadening his practice and working on multiple birds simultaneously, allowing for more cohesive, well-rounded flocks. His next collection launches at 9 a.m. EST on July 9 in his shop, and his works sell quickly so keep an eye on Instagram for early looks at the 100 creatures set for release.
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Single Eyes Gaze Out of Antique Cutlery, Tins, and Other Objects in Miniature Paintings by Robyn Rich
The Georgian era saw the rise in a jewelry trend that’s equally sentimental and peculiar: to remember spouses who had died or to honor clandestine affairs without revealing anyone’s identity, people would commission tiny renderings of a person’s eye to be painted on broaches, rings, and other accessories they could carry with them. Similar to a lock of hair or portrait hidden in a locket, the abstracted feature was anonymous and indiscernible to most but deeply personal to the wearer.
Robyn Rich evokes this centuries-old fad with a substantial body of work that nestles minuscule oil paintings into cutlery, tins, and other antique vessels. “With a love of reusing and recycling, the found objects I use give a simple and often nostalgic canvas, which offers little distraction, allowing the beauty of the eye to be the focus,” she says. “These objects that we use every day are often taken for granted, overlooked, and forgotten, but in my work, they have another life and help tell a story.”
Whether centered on the eyes, nose, or lips, each realistic snippet conveys a wide range of human emotions—the expressive works capture everything from surprise and worry to contentment—through a single, isolated feature. “I paint friends, total strangers, and the eyes from painted portraits from the past. Each eye I paint becomes a little part of me,” the Frankston, Australia-based artist says.
Alongside her ongoing series of works on domestic objects, Rich is currently collaborating with designer Kelty Pelechytik on a collection of custom wearables. She also has an upcoming solo show at fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne. Titled I See You, the exhibition is the culmination of a call Rich put out in 2019 for women and female-identifying people to share their portraits and stories with her, resulting in more than 100 pieces that will be on view this October. Until then, find an extensive archive of her miniatures on Instagram.
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An Expansive Exhibition Pairs Two Indigenous Artists to Explore the Power of Socially Engaged Artmaking
A monumental patchwork wolf, warriors sparring with a fang-bearing snake, and an abstract woolen tapestry made of restored blankets comprise Each/Other: Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger, which opens this weekend at the Denver Art Museum. The expansive exhibition—featuring 26 mixed-media sculptures, installations, and wall hangings—joins two of the leading Indigenous artists working today in a manner that distinguishes both the connective threads and nuances within their bodies of work.
Situated at the center of the space is the 16-foot creature the pair created together by fashioning about 700 patterned bandannas submitted by an international crew around a steel armature. The collaborative installation, titled “Each/Other,” physically tethers Watt’s and Luger’s individual artworks while drawing on the socially engaged aspects inherent to both of their practices.
Based in New Mexico, Luger is a multi-media artist of Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota, and European descent whose projects often speak to contemporary life within Indigenous communities. For example, his 2018 piece “Every One” strings together 4,096 ceramic beads into a pixelated portrait of a young figure. Each individual orb represents one of the women, girls, and queer and trans folks who have been murdered or gone missing in Canada.
Watt, who is a member of the Seneca Nation and has Scottish and German heritage, utilizes everyday objects steeped in historical narratives and collective memory. Whether presented through leaning, stacked towers or smaller wall hangings, the Portland-based artist primarily works with materials gathered from the community, like blankets stitched in sewing circles.
Following the end of its run in Denver on August 22, Each/Other will visit the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta from September 25 to December 12, 2021, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem from January 29 to May 8, 2022. Find out more about Luger and Watt on their sites.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.