landscapes

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Design

Reimagining an Iconic Midwestern Structure, Catie Newell Cuts a Slice of Sky Out of a Michigan Barn

June 21, 2022

Kate Mothes

All images © Catie Newell, shared with permission

In the township of Hume in rural eastern Michigan, an unassuming barn stands sentry in a wide-open field, partially covered in wild vines and grasses. Like many Midwestern farm structures, it’s weathered and has seen years of use and repairs, but one recent alteration makes it a standout among its counterparts: a careful cut through the middle of the structure reveals a slice of sky. Conceived by Detroit-based architect and educator Catie Newell, founder of Alibi Studio, the project reworks the iconic framework of an aging farm building to allow light through an unexpected aperture.

A team of more than two dozen construction professionals and volunteers collaborated on Secret Sky’s transformation, which is part of an ongoing series of barn interventions in rural parts of the state that are commissioned by Greater Port Austin Art and Placemaking. The nonprofit’s project 53 North works with creative practitioners to adapt and save unused, aging, wooden barns in the region.

To make the massive cut for Secret Sky, original materials were patiently reworked and replaced by hand, including restructuring the overall design so that major beams and a column could be removed to open up the new space. Simultaneously subtracting a large volume and also adding a new area, visitors can now pass through what Newell describes as a merging of building and landscape and “a gift to the sky.” Both meditative and striking in the daytime, at twilight the barn is illuminated and glows lantern-like, casting long shadows across the field as light escapes through the slats in the walls.

As part of the ongoing project to preserve the building, Newell is currently raising funds to replace the original roof shingles and protect it for years to come. You can donate to support Secret Sky at 53 North and learn more on Newell’s website.

 

Image © Ben Lawson

 

 

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Art Photography

Light Pierces Through Colorful Haze Suspended Above the Composite Landscapes in ‘Metamorphe’

June 17, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Taste.” All images © Reuben Wu and Jenni Pasanen, shared with permission

In the unearthly Metamorphe series, smoke-like masses swirl around hoodoos and dunes dotting the terrain. A mysterious air pervades the six illuminated works, which blend the drone-light photographs of Reuben Wu (previously) with Jenni Pasanen’s digital creations produced through artificial intelligence. Each piece envisions the earth’s surface following metamorphosis when living beings are extinct and only the landscape remains.

Named after human senses, the otherworldly composites imagine topographies brimming with enormous formations of stone and sand to explore the “sublime and beyond emotion,” the artists say. “Humans are emotional beings, their decisions led by their feelings. A machine has no such constraints, enabling it to conceive what human minds could never be capable of on their own.”

For more from Wu and Pasanen, head to Instagram.

 

“Sight”

“Smell”

“Preception”

“Hearing”

“Touch”

 

 



Craft

Skies Peek Through Foliage in French Knots in Embroideries that Peer Up From the Forest Floor

June 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Sew Beautiful, shared with permission

Look up! The vibrant embroideries of the U.K.-based artist known as Sew Beautiful capture the awe-inspiring breadth of the outdoors within a tiny wooden hoop. Layering colorful French knots and long, straight threads in neutral tones, the artist transforms thin organza bases into fiber renditions of forests dense with autumn leaves or aerial shots capturing wide swaths of landscape. The hand-stitched pieces are vivid and tinged with whimsy, and Sew Beautiful has a few works currently available on Etsy. Follow shop updates and new embroideries on Instagram. (via So Super Awesome)

 

 

 



Photography

Lush Aerial Photos by Pham Huy Trung Capture the Annual Harvests of Vietnam’s Countryside

May 27, 2022

Grace Ebert

Trang An. All images © Pham Huy Trung, shared with permission

From the foggy limestone mountains of Trang An to grass collection in Bao Loc, the scenic shots by Pham Huy Trung (previously) preserve Vietnam’s heritage. The photographer often works with drones, allowing him to capture aerial views of wooden boats wedged into a harbor and farmers grasping large baskets as they gather tea. Resplendent with vegetation, the images frequently center on industry and annual harvests to create a visual record of everyday activity.

Pham is currently planning a trip abroad—follow his travels on Instagram—and has select prints available on his site.

 

Pink trumpet flowers, Bao Loc

Boats, Trang an, Ninh Binh

Tea harvest, Bao Loc

Lillies, Mekong Delta

Tea harvest, Bao Loc

Grass harvest, Mekong Delta

 

 



Art

Evening Sunlight Blankets the Dense Los Angeles Hills in an Ethereal Glow in Seth Armstrong’s Paintings

April 29, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Green” (2021), oil on wood panel, 66 x 66 inches

Los Angeles-based artist Seth Armstrong (previously) gravitates toward saturated palettes of greens and blues to render the steep, hilly landscapes of his hometown. Evening sunsets bathe the staggered houses, trees, and sloping streets in a warm glow, adding a tinge of magic to the densely populated neighborhoods. Balancing light with shadow and hyperrealism with more ethereal details, the oil-based works, while similar in composition and subject matter, rarely follow the same process, Armstrong shares. “Sometimes I rely heavily on a drawing to compose a painting, and sometimes I’ll jump straight into the wet stuff,” he tells Colossal. “I haven’t decided if I prefer a thin and complete underpainting, or if I like just slopping it on, straight up.”

Armstrong has paintings slated for a few upcoming shows, including with Asia Art Center at Jing Art in Beijing this May and this winter at Amsterdam’s Miniature Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. He’s also working on a number of commissions and new works, and you can follow his progress on Instagram.

 

“Lemon Yellow” (2021), oil on wood panel, 60 x 48 inches

“Electric Avenue” (2021), oil on wood panel, 48 x 36 inches

“Pastel Is Punk” (2022), oil on wood panel, 36 x 24 inches

“Braintree” (2021), oil on wood panel, 48 x 60 inches

“Mt. Angelus” (2021), oil on wood panel, 40 x 40 inches

 

 



Photography

Saturated Neon Hues Veil Snowy Landscapes in Photos by Maria Lax

April 18, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Maria Lax, shared with permission

Known for experimenting with an assortment of in-camera techniques, photographer Maria Lax transforms quiet, nighttime vistas and frozen forests into fantastically colored dreamscapes. She’s always been fascinated by the interplay of light and color, she tells Colossal, and following formal training in cinematography, has developed a distinct style that vividly interprets the outside world.

Lighting and filters produce the kaleidoscopic range that overlays Lax’s images, and the London-based photographer is conservative with equipment. “I often shoot in remote locations in difficult conditions—some of these images were shot in temperatures reaching -30 C,” she says. “I work mostly by myself when I am on location, which means my kit is relatively minimal and nimble so that I can carry it on my back even on longer hikes through the snow.”

If you’re in London, Lax is showing new photos from April 19 to 24 at Open Doors Gallery, where she also has limited-edition prints available. She’s currently in progress on a second book following her monograph, Some Kind of Heavenly Fire, published by Setanta Books, and you can explore an archive of her work on Instagram.