From her studio in St. Petersburg, artist Elena Zaycman creates delicate flowers and tropical plants from vibrant stained glass. She strays from the traditional two-dimensional panels to produce lifelike forms that resemble fleshy petals and curved leaves found in nature. Whether a pair of tulips or fanned palm, Zaycman’s translucent designs refract light and cast tinted shadows in an array of organic shapes around the space.
Having worked with the medium for nearly a decade, the artist tells Colossal that prior to creating the smaller sculptures she collaborated with her sister on expansive projects that required a lengthy, complex installation in homes and other spaces. She began to produce the mounted pieces as a way to circumvent that process and make the art form more accessible to those without the resources for large, permanent works. Today, her sculptures often reflect vegetation and natural life spotted during travel—an encounter with a stray puppy on a trip to Bali informed many of the pieces shown here—or evoke playful, geometric characters, like in her Monstrics collection.
Zaycman was recently featured in the second edition of We Are Makers, and she sells downloadable patterns for a variety of moths and insects on Etsy. Follow her on Instagram for glimpses into her process and updates on available works.
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Approach the delicate glass artworks by Rui Sasaki, and witness the unpredictable patterns of the weather through a subtle glow of blue light. The Japanese artist’s experiential body of work translates varying forecasts into speckled sculptures that radiate once encountered, an intimate process that Sasaki describes as a way to “visualize subtle sunshine, record today’s weather, and transfer it from here to there/from there to here.”
At their brightest, the phosphorescent crystals are tinged green before fading to blue. “Visitors will doubtless be surprised to find that even if they cannot see anything on first entering the gallery, stay long enough and their eyes will become accustomed to the dark, and the elements of the work will gradually become visible,” Sasaki writes. Because each encounter sparks a unique reaction in the embedded lights, no two experiences will be the same. She explains:
The phosphorescent glass used stores light of a wavelength close to that of sunlight, with this stored light then glowing in the dark. That is to say, one is now seeing light accumulated in the past. If a viewer remains in the gallery for an extended period, the next viewer will see the work glowing weakly in the darkness. With longer viewing time, the light of the phosphorescent glass fades, moment by moment, until finally the gallery is plunged into darkness. This might occur a minute later, or a day later, depending on viewer movements.
Many of the sculptures evoke organic elements in material, concept, and sometimes form, whether shaped into swollen raindrops or a sun-like orb. Others, though, are depicted through domestic scenes with dinnerware or a suspended chandelier, a juxtaposition that relates to Sasaki’s feeling she had lost her sense of home after moving to the U.S. for a few years. Now living in Kanazawa, the artist is using the weather and surrounding environment as a way “to recover from the reverse culture shock and rediscover my intimacy towards my home Japan little-by-little and day-by-day.”
Sasaki’s sculptures are part of multiple group shows, including one at Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art & Design through April 4, another at Art Museum Riga Bourse that will re-open April 6, and an upcoming spring exhibition at Tainan Art Museum in Taiwan. She also has a solo exhibition at Tokyo’s Gallery DiEGO Omotesando slated for May. Watch this interview and studio visit for a glimpse into her process, and follow where her work is headed next on Instagram.
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Exuding elegance and obscurity, Foggy Flowers is a two-photograph series by Sander Plug and Lernert Engelberts that centers on our collective outlook for the future through a blur of frosted glass. The duo, who work under Studio Lernert & Sander, unearthed the delicate shots from their archive—the images were taken in 2018 during a week-long period when they worked continuously on various projects—in May 2020 for Volkskrant Magazine, which asked them to epitomize their creative process during lockdown.
They didn’t want “to jump on the ‘look how very creative we are during this lockdown’ train,” Plug says, and despite their anachronistic context, the two-year-old series fit the studio’s perspective. “When I look back, I see that the blurry and fuzzy flowers are about ambiguity,” he writes. “It symbolizes the way we looked to the future then and how everyone sees the future now. There’s no point in worrying because no one can say how things will turn out now.”
Based in Amsterdam, Plug and Engelberts have been collaborating for about a decade, creating a variety of commercial photography and film projects. A few limited-edition C-prints of the blurred bouquets are still available on their site, and head to Instagram to explore more of their work that ranges from documentaries to animal portraiture to installations filled with cubed cheese. (via Iain Claridge)
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Step into Claudia Bueno’s aquarium-style installation at Meow Wolf’s new space in Las Vegas and experience the slow, oscillating movements of natural life. “Pulse” is comprised of countless white line drawings that are meticulously intertwined and superimposed on 60 glass panels. When illuminated, they mimic scores of nautilus spirals, coral, vines, and botanics that sway and throb in glowing masses.
“This is what ‘Pulse’ is, a way of creating animated volumes using layers of drawings that build up. I have been refining this technique for the last six years, understanding how these forms can also have a moving quality when the light system is applied,” the Venezuela-born artist says, noting that the idea for the project grew out of a visit to Yellowstone National Park.
During the course of eight months, a team of women painstakingly painted the glass panels at Bueno’s Idaho studio. “The repetitive/meditative quality of the work lent itself to provide a very special healing space for us as we drew fine lines for hours and openly shared and supported each other,” she says. No matter the scale of the project, Bueno begins with a single dot that she duplicates, expands into lines, and eventually into intricately developed patterns, which she explains:
It seems like it doesn’t matter what size, materials, and tools I am working with, the same kinds of patterns manage to manifest themselves over and over, building on each other, gaining both complexity and simplicity at the same time… It has been an interesting brain challenge to visualize a stack of 2D drawings that then become 3D and move. It’s my own version of a non-digital, hand-drawn time-lapse or animation.
Although much of the installation’s work is complete, Bueno shares that she’s creating smaller sculptures, jewelry, and other works to coincide with the larger project. “Pulse” is set to premiere at Meow Wolf’s satirical sendup of consumerism, Omega Mart, which the Santa Fe-based arts group (previously) will soon open within Area 15 in Las Vegas. Until then, watch the video above by Adolfo Bueno and find more of Bueno’s light-based works on her site and Instagram. Video by Adolfo Bueno.
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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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