found photographs

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with found photographs



Art Craft Photography

Colorful, Geometric Stitches Embolden Black-and-White Photographs of Historical Figures and Cultural Icons

September 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

Yayoi Kusama. All images © Victoria Villasana, shared with permission

When Victoria Villasana (previously) lays a long stitch on a vintage photograph, she’s connecting the pattern or geometric shape to a piece of history, culture, or philosophy. The Mexican artist transforms found black-and-white images of cultural icons and historical figures through vibrant embroideries. Turquoise fibers radiate from Nelson Mandela’s fist, a gold, chevron collar lines Chadwick Boseman’s shirt, and Yayoi Kusma sports a multicolor garment with varying dots and stripes. Emboldened by stitches that often breach the photograph’s edges, the multi-media artworks exude power, strength, and beauty.

Villasana sources many of the images from the public domain, although she sometimes collaborates with photographers, as well. “I think color helps us to connect emotionally and I like to look at the past and merge tradition and vanguard. I’m also interested in symbolism and geometry in art as a way to communicate deeper meanings with each other,” she shares with Colossal.

To explore more of Villasana’s geometric additions, head to Instagram, and see the originals and prints available in her shop.

 

Chadwick Boseman. Photography by Marcus Smith

Federica Violi

Kara Walker. Photograph by Ari Marcopoulus

Nelson Mandela

Left: Miles Davis. Right: Harriet Tubman

Ryu Gwansun

Yayoi Kusama

 

 



Art Craft Photography

Embroidered Patches Redefine Vintage Postcards and Photographs by Fiber Artist Han Cao

July 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Nice hair.” All images © Han Cao, shared with permission

Through densely laid cross-stitches and whorls of thread, Han Cao revitalizes discarded photographs and postcards. Similar to the artist’s previous projects, her latest series New Nostalgia strikes a balance between the original subjects and the fiber-based additions. Sometimes covering faces with sparse dandelion puffs or confetti-like burst, Cao redefines the vintage pieces and explores how narratives linger as she stitches plumes of train steam that trail beyond the initial photograph’s edges.

Based in Palm Springs, the artist shares glimpses into her process on Instagram, and if you’re in Philadelphia, check out her embroidered pieces that are on view through August 22 at Paradigm Gallery. Cao also sells some of her mixed-media works in her shop.

 

Left: “Golden Conjurer.” Right: “Wallflower-Yellow Pansy”

“Mt Rainier”

“Runaway train”

“Runaway train”

“Generations”

Left: “A steady dissolution.” Right: “Sisters”

“Plume”

“Sister, sister”

 

 



Craft Illustration Photography

Found Photographs and Book Pages Weave into Textured Collages by Hollie Chastain

January 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Psychopomp.” All images © Hollie Chastain, shared with permission

Paper artist and illustrator Hollie Chastain clips, layers, and stitches found photographs and scraps of paper ephemera to create her mixed-media collages. The Chattanooga, Tennessee-based artist repurposes old narratives and images⁠—in one piece, tuba players pop out of a library card pocket, and in another, two men tug on a string woven through a handwritten note⁠—providing a new story for each regenerated work.

Chastain tells Colossal she began working with the medium in 2008. “Vintage book covers became a favorite substrate,” she says. “I fell in love with the scribbles, stamps, library and school identification, water and ink marks and all the other visual history and how that added to and sometimes altered the composition of the piece. ” Today, she often cuts images from National Geographic copies printed in the 1960s and 70s, gravitating toward “strong characters and people in action.”

To share her appreciation of the versatile medium, Chastain published an instructional book detailing various techniques and methods. “What I adore about collage as a medium is the complete versatility and the allowances that it gives first time creators to play around with color and texture and composition without any ‘but I can’t draw’ and ‘I’m not an artist’ hang-ups,” she says. If you want to join Chastain and start your own textured project, order a copy of If You Can Cut, You Can Collage. Otherwise, check out her shop and follow her on Instagram.

“Band Stand”

“Harvest”

“Homework”

“Parade Day”

“Paradise Lost”

“The Delegate”

 

 



Art Craft Photography

Hand-Stitched Flowers and Landscapes Revitalize Found Photographs by Artist Han Cao

December 30, 2019

Grace Ebert

All images © Han Cao, shared with permission

Calligrapher and fiber artist Han Cao repurposes old photographs by stitching brightly colored flowers and landscapes directly onto each black and white image. Based in Palm Springs, the artist works with found photographs that are 5×7 inches or smaller, attaching multi-colored threads that she hopes alter the old narrative and give new meaning and life to each piece. Often, Cao covers people’s faces, adds tiny, repetitive details to their clothes, or blurs a landscape with her stitches.

Cao writes to Colossal that she purchases most photographs from the flea markets and antique shops she visits while she’s traveling.

There’s thousands upon thousands of vintage photos stuffed inside dusty boxes at these markets—long lost and forgotten by their families, so my work is an attempt to bring them back to life and renew their stories. I’m particularly drawn to images that offer a deeper story—photographs with haunting faces and figures, simple landscapes that can be magically transformed with added dimension and color.

The artist says her plans include creating larger-scale works that use “alternative photograph reproduction methods where I will have more space to explore texture and create extended narratives for these images.” You can follow her mixed-media projects on Instagram and purchase her work on her site.

 

 



Art History

Collages of Thousands of Strangers Convey the Vast Scale of Memory and Death

October 29, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

In his series Chronicle: Passing (6,393 Per Hour), artist Greg Sand creates analog super-edits of the repeated patterns found in old photographs. Drapery, flowers, shoes, shadows, hands, and faces are homed in on and grouped into enormous grids, representing the simultaneous enormity and specificity of human death. As the series’ title notes, approximately 6,393 people around the world die every hour. Each small black-and-white or sepia-toned image is from an ambiguous past era, though hairstyles and clothing offer clues to every individual’s specific moment in time.

Sand tells Colossal that the biggest challenge was collecting all the images he needed; he relied on eBay and local antique stores to source the thousands of old photographs. Using a half inch or one inch punch, Sand framed each visual element in a small square, and arranged them manually. “I was intrigued by the interactions of the various textures, values, and colors that developed,” Sand explains. “I found my eye bouncing around from light to dark, from matte to glossy, from bright to dull, from textured to smooth. The pieces became like pixelated masses from a distance that required getting very close to discover each image individually.”

Sand explains that he hopes the series sparks a reflection in the viewer on how memories fragment. Childhood recollections may focus on specific details like the clothing or gestures of a loved one. “Photographs function in a similar manner. They do not show a whole person or an entire life, but instead capture a single moment,” Sand says. “These keepsakes help determine some of the pieces of memory that stick with us.”

See the artist’s work in person at Momentum Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina in the exhibition Small Works | Big Impact, which opens November 14, 2019.

 

 



Art Craft

Found Vintage Photographs are Reinterpreted with Colorful Overlays by Julie Cockburn

October 3, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“The Ecologist” (2019), hand embroidery and inkjet on found photograph. All images © Julie Cockburn, courtesy of Flowers Gallery

Working with vintage photographs, artist Julie Cockburn (previously) re-energizes images that have been lost to time with colorful overlays. Cockburn adds tightly stitched orbs, swirling marbled enamel, and architectural structures as overlays to black-and-white or softly toned studio portraits, candid snaps, and landscape photos.

The London-based artist’s current solo exhibition, ‘Telling It Slant’, is on view through November 2, 2019 at Flowers Gallery‘s Kingsland Road location. Cockburn’s show title alludes to an Emily Dickinson poem called Tell all the Truth but Tell it Slant. In a statement, the gallery describes the artist’s work as “excavat[ing] authentic stories by circuitous means… Cockburn embarks on a visual journey to delicately reveal narrative histories and layered meanings in lost and discarded images. Cockburn partially obscures the images in a process she describes as ‘paradoxically unmasking’ their intrinsic truths.”

See more of the artist’s work on Instagram, and place an order for Cockburn’s first monograph, Stickybeak, published by Chose Commune.

“Moonscape” (2019), hand embroidery on found photograph

“Qualm” (2019), hand embroidery and inkjet on found photograph

“Plumage 1” (2019), hand embroidery on found postcard

“Blue Face Man” (2019), enamel on found photograph

L: “Armour” 2019, hand embroidery and ink on found photograph / R: “The Welder” (2019), hand embroidery on found photograph

“Feed the Birds Man” (2019), C type print of found photograph and glass beads

“Will O The Wisp” (2019), hand embroidery on found photograph