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Art

Children’s Imaginations Materialize as Cartoon Chaos in Paintings by Artist Kayla Mahaffey

June 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Picking Up the Pieces” (2019), acrylic on aluminum panel, 36 x 36

Chicago-based artist Kayla Mahaffey captures the vivid reveries occupying young minds. She juxtaposes realistically rendered figures with chaotic scenes of two-dimensional cartoon characters as they emerge from amorphous clouds and pastel commotions. Each central figure wears a distinct expression that’s reflected through the fictional world.

Many of Mahaffey’s pieces portraying children’s imaginations shown here are part of the series Off to the Races, which serves as a hopeful narration of change, she said in a statement.

As we travel through life we experience the daily trials and tribulations that help shape us into the people we are today. During this journey, we may end up hitting some bumps or may experience some rough terrain, but it’s how we deal with those situations that make the difference. We are all on the journey to greatness, each individual racing to the finish line in hope of reaching goals and prosperity. With the race may come with it mistakes and regret, but not taking part in the race leads you nowhere.

The artist shares many of her playful works, in addition to a virtual tour of her recent solo show titled Deconstructed at Thinkspace in Culver City, on Instagram.

 

“Safety First” (2019), acrylic on board panel, 36 x 46

“Stranded” (2019), acrylic on wood panel

“Race to the Finish Line” (2019), acrylic on wood panel, 16 x 20

“Short Fuse” (2018), acrylic on wood panel, 12 x 12

“Enjoy the Ride” (2019), acrylic on aluminum panel, 36 x 36

“Take Action” (2019), acrylic on aluminum panel, 36×36

“Daily Distractions” (2018), watercolor and acrylic on Arches watercolor paper, 18 x 24

 

 



Design

Hundreds of Rainbow Glass Panels Emit a Rotating Kaleidoscope in a Playful Kindergarten

April 9, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © SAKO Architects

In Tianshui, China, a clear dome casts sunlight onto 483 polychromatic glass panels lining a kindergarten’s windows, railings, and doorways. It gives the spacious building a kaleidoscopic effect, refracting varying hues onto the white walls and minimalist wood furnishings. “Color shades can grow and shrink as colors overlap and become different colors, or move from a vertical plane to a horizontal plane and back again,” architect Keiichiro Sako wrote on Instagram. “I hope that spending childhood in this beautiful light will foster the creativity of the children.”

Centered on the open atrium, the playful glass pieces and doorways are rounded, which is a nod to the school’s location in the Loess Plateau. They even border the outdoor recreation area, giving the kids a colorful and translucent view of the surrounding city. (via Trendland, thnx Laura!)

 

 



Design

A Set of Six Uniquely Textured Toys Engages Children in Processing Their Emotions

November 20, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

A set of six figurines made from wood and silicone are designed to help children process difficult memories and emotions. Created Israeli designer Yaara Nusboim, the “Alma” dolls correlate to different feelings: fear, pain, emptiness, love, anger and safety. The unique textures and colors of fuschia spikes, turquoise shards, and pink petals prompt children to engage with the dolls in different ways.

Nusboim envisions the dolls being used as part of play therapy, wherein a therapist can observe their young patient’s behaviors and choices with the toys to help unpack underlying psychological or emotional concerns. “Playing with a toy provides a safe psychological distance from the child’s private problems and allows them to experience thoughts and emotions in a way that’s suitable for their development,” the designer explained to Dezeen.

Take a peek into the design process in the video below, and explore more of Nusboim’s socially conscious designs on her website. (via Dezeen)

 

 



Art Craft Design

Hand-Carved Wood Sculptures by Jui-Lin Yen Capture Cartoonish Facial Expressions

November 4, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Taiwanese woodworker Jui-Lin Yen (previously) creates charming sculptural characters using traditional techniques. Silky-smooth finishes, expert inlay, and careful joinery are used to create cartoonish figures. Yen’s initial foray into woodworking resulted in fully-formed characters with distinct heads, torsos, and limbs. His recent projects have been more abstract, focusing on facial expressions.

Though many of his initial creations were gifts for his children, due to interest in his work Yen has also started offering some of his pieces for sale online. Alongside the whimsy and charm of his creations, Yen also incorporates functionality: ducks double as serving platters, freestanding birds hold air plants, and many of the works shown here are meant to be installed on walls and used as hooks for clothing or keys. Peek into Yen’s studio via Instagram and keep up with new projects on Facebook.

 

 



Art Photography

AfroArt Photo Series Challenges Beauty Standards with Young Black Models

August 10, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All Images: Kahran and Regis Bethencourt. Styling by LaChanda Gatson, Shanna Thomasson and Angela Plummer

Husband and wife photography duo Regis and Kahran Bethencourt of CreativeSoul Photography capture images of children that celebrate the beauty, culture, and heritage of afro hairstyles. Often dressed in ornate African-inspired garb, Black girl and boy models are crowned with afros, twists, and braids as symbols of strength and grace.

The Bethencourts, based in Atlanta, have been working together for 10 years and began photographing children with natural hair in 2013. The “AfroArt” series began when they noticed a lack of diversity in the industry. The way the children in the series are styled and posed against warm backgrounds recalls the regal oil portraits painted of upper class men and women during the Renaissance movement. “We decided to showcase kids with natural hair to empower them (and others in the industry) to embrace it and for the kids to be proud of their culture and natural curls,” the photographers tell Colossal.

“When we first started out we were primarily working with child models, but now more than half of the kids have never modeled before,” they added. “Many parents hire us so that their child can get the experience of feeling empowered for the day. We will typically guide them on set to make them feel comfortable. Most of them just see it as a fun experience, but they usually leave the studio feeling a little more proud and self-confident.”

CreativeSoul Photography has an online shop where images from the AfroArt series can be purchased as prints, calendars, and other products. They also recently signed a book deal, so keep an eye out for that at your local bookstore. In the meantime, follow CreativeSoul Photography on Instagram for more striking images and future updates.

 

 



Art

Two Collaborative Murals by Pat Perry and Local Schoolchildren Connect Communities in Iraq and Maine

July 26, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Detroit-based artist Pat Perry (previously) travels widely to create drawings, paintings, and murals inspired by the diverse cultures and landscapes of different parts of the world, often with an eye toward forgotten or marginalized people and places. Partnering with aptART and the Good Works Foundation, Perry’s most recent project took him to Maine and Iraqi Kurdistan, where he collaboratively designed and painted a pair of murals with local schoolchildren. The two fifth grade classes, located over 5,600 miles apart in Biddeford and Slemani, got to know each other by exchanging videos and artwork. They then assisted Perry with painting their own messages on the new murals.

The resulting project, OPENING LINES, depicts a child in each mural holding a red telephone. Because their backs are turned, the viewer can imagine whether each subject is speaking or listening. Surrounding each figure are doodles and messages written in both English and Arabic by Perry’s young collaborators. Samantha Robison of aptART tells Colossal, “With cultural overlap across the globe unavoidable, the peril of stereotype can be lessened by individual, personal acquaintances across borders; a literal face rather than an idea of one. The most integral part of equality is providing platforms for people to speak, to create, to be listened to.”

The video below offers a glimpse behind the scenes of OPENING LINES. You can follow along with aptART’s youth programming on Instagram and explore more of Perry’s wide-ranging humanist work (including limited edition prints) on his website and Instagram.

 

 



Design

Neko Cup Creates Adorable Napping Cat Sand Sculptures

July 16, 2019

Johnny Waldman

If you’re walking along the beach this summer and you see a group of napping cat sand sculptures, there’s a good chance it’s the work of a Neko Cup (neko is the Japanese word for cat). Neko Cup is the latest product from Japanese design brand h-concept. Made from biomass plastic (bamboo and scallop shells) the hollowed out object creates a silhouette of a napping cat.

It can be used on the beach, in your park’s sandbox and, in the winter, with snow. And when it’s not in use, it also functions as ab adorable little sculpture. Designer Yuka Morii says she loves seeing cats sleeping on the sidewalk and she wanted to preserve that warm feeling she gets when she spots one out of the corner of her eye.

If you’re in Japan you can purchase one from the h-concept online shop. They come in white, beige and black and retail for 2,916 yen ($26.95). (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)