with found objects
Simultaneously adorable and bizarre, Debra Broz’s porcelain creatures breathe new life into antique knick-knacks. The Los Angeles-based artist (previously) carefully gathers discarded figurines that she separates and reassembles into humorous and unusual sculptures: an entire flock of ducklings balances on just two feet, a hooved cat carries its equine baby, and tree branches sprout from a lounging ballerina.
Broz’s hybrid animals are included in Salvage, a group exhibition curated by Colossal’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Christopher Jobson at Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia. Through the work of three artists and pieces from the Recycled Artist in Residency Program, Salvage examines how artists are revitalizing fragments of tradition and culture that were destined to be lost, relegated to the periphery, or buried forever. The show opens on January 22 with a live talk with Jobson, Broz, and artists Yurim Gough and André Schulze—tickets are available on Eventbrite—and runs through February 20. Take a virtual tour on Paradigm’s site.
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A bejeweled tabby presides over Kris Kuksi’s sprawling new landscape teeming with retro figures, ornate baubles, and mass-produced trinkets all blanketed with a thick coat of metallic paint. The Lawrence, Kansas-based artist (previously) melds found objects into complex, frieze-style assemblages that are infused with themes of “historical narratives, biblical subjects, animal worship, architecture, symbolic views on commerce and development, as well as human psychology and behavior.”
Titled “Tabby Tyrant,” the fantastical work is replete with juxtapositions: the individual and the collective, peace and war, industrial and classical architecture, and historic and modern. Minuscule soldiers wrangle a winged figure, a mouse swallows a human whole, and a team of warriors is outfitted with anachronistic weapons, although every action is in service of the feline ruler. Depicting disquieting and eerie actions, each scene is presented through opulent, gilded tableaus.
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What brings you hope? That’s the central question behind a new group exhibition presented by Port City Creative Guild. Couriers of Hope boasts more than 120 original pieces from more than 90 artists—the list includes Rosanne Kang Jovanovski, Andrew Hem (previously), Sean Chao (previously), and Yoskay Yamamoto—all rendered on vintage envelopes. Prompted by the mail art movement of the 1960s, the exhibition features an eclectic array of watercolor, pencil, and mixed-media illustrations that transform the miniature canvases into the artists’ vision for the future, whether through relaxed otters, peaches, or vivid portraits. Many of the works prominently display original postmarks and stamps and serve as a reminder that communication doesn’t have to be digital.
Students from Long Beach Unified School District have the opportunity to acquire one of the envelopes by trading their own response to the artists’ same prompt, with the guild providing art supplies for participants to ensure that everyone has access to the initiative. The show was curated collectively by a Long Beach Museum of Art, Creative Arts Coalition to Transform Urban Space, Flatline, Inspired LBC, The Icehouse x Ink and Drink Long Beach, Arts Council Long Beach, Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum, Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, Compound LBC, and the Creative Class Collective.
Couriers of Hope will be on display in the windows of the Psychic Temple of the Holy Kiss in downtown Long Beach and on the guild’s site for virtual viewing from January 19 to February 28, 2021.
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Merging traditional craft techniques and the natural world’s abundant materials, Hillary Waters Fayle (previously) meticulously stitches brightly hued florals into found camellia leaves and other foliage. From simple lines and ribbing to fully rendered botanics, the thread-based embellishments interrupt the fragile matter. The resulting sculptures evidence nature’s durability while juxtaposing the organic material with the fabricated additions.
In the interview below, Waters Fayle describes how she gathers leaves and seed pods from areas around her home in Richmond, Virginia, and notes that her practice is rooted in sustainability. By using materials that are already available, like thread from her grandmother, the artist strives for zero-waste in her practice. Overall, her intention is to “bind nature and human touch,” magnifying how the two interact.
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The monochromatic assemblages of Amber Cowan (previously) are at once domestic narratives and homages to an abandoned industry. Delicate baubles frame a central figure or scene that the Philadelphia-based artist illustrates with scraps of pressed glass. Whether focused on a lone bridesmaid or a hen hoarding eggs, Cowan’s works explore the feminine experience through themes of “loneliness, the search for meaning, the search for love, and the following of symbolism in the mundane.”
Cowan shops at antique stores and markets for materials, although she more frequently scours scrapyards around the country for discarded bits of glass, which are known as cullets. As a whole, the now-defunct industry was booming from the mid-1800s before it dropped off during the 20th Century. “Nowadays, this material is out of fashion and relegated to the dustbin of American design,” the artist writes, noting that she often finds masses of historic hues at the scrapyards. “These barrels of color are often the last of their run, and my work will essentially give the formulas their final resting place and visually abundant celebration of life.”
Some of Cowan’s work is included in the recently published book, Objects: USA 2020. If you’re in New York, her piece “Dance of the Pacific Coast Highway at Sunset” is permanently on view at The Museum of Arts and Design, and she’s also part of an upcoming group exhibition at R & Co. Gallery. Until then, explore more of her textured sculptures on her site and Instagram.
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“I have always viewed the body as a transitory object,” writes artist Christina Bothwell. From human-animal hybrids to pregnant creatures to figures fused together, Bothwell’s oeuvre suspends various life forms in states of flux: a baby precariously rests on a mother’s back, a young girl grasps onto another’s legs, and others peer into the distance as if they’re about to move forward.
The artist’s subject matter is rooted in the ethereal and embodies the delicate ways spirits and physical figures change over time. Her process, however, mirrors that focus on transformation. From her studio in rural Pennsylvania, Bothwell begins each multi-media piece with a sketch before translating the head into a clay form. To create the weathered appearance, she utilizes pit firing, which involves covering the sculpture with hay or leaves and burning them. The smoke from the fire leaves behind a carbon residue on the clay.
When working with glass, Bothwell sculpts warm beeswax that she uses to cast a plaster-and-silica mold. She then fills the empty shape with chunks of colored glass, which are placed in a kiln for annealing, cooled in cold water, and finally sanded and chiseled down. Hand-painted details adorn the sculpture’s exterior, along with found objects like antique prosthetic eyes, deer antlers, and ball feet.
The result of this months-long technique is a surreal collection that merges the organic forms and processes of nature with uncanny details. Each lusterless piece explores the relationship between the alluring oddities of the exterior and the translucent insides, which Bothwell explains:
Changing the body is merely adjusting the outer wrapping, as far as I can see… I am intrigued with the spirit world, and I imagine that we pass in and out of it, into the physical realm with bodies, then out of it at the end of life into lighter, energy bodies… And along the way throughout our lives, we transform ourselves constantly, reinventing who we are on a daily basis.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.