Made of translucent glass, Laura Hart’s brilliant orchids appear to be the paragon of delicacy: the fleshy petals and neon-illuminated columns are in full bloom, representing a fleeting stage of life that’s modeled with an easily breakable substance. The Suffolk-based artist, though, is more concerned with the floral family’s historical resilience and aptitude for survival.
There are 28,000 known species of orchids, which 100-million-year-old fossil records prove were the first to bloom. “Representing a quarter of the world’s flowering plants, there are four times as many orchid species as there are mammals and twice as many birds,” Hart says. In her newest series, Orchis Exotica—which debuted earlier this year as part of Collect 2020 with Vessel Gallery—the central neon light is a nod to orchids’ efforts to attract necessary pollinators to ensure their survival. These successful strategies prove their adaptability, Hart says, a move she connects to Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories.
Manacled by religious dogma of his time, he risked a charge of heresy had he cited another organism equally successful in achieving global population through adaptability. Though there is very little anecdotal record of his personal resolve that humans were the ultimate example of his revelatory theory, there can be no doubt he believed it to be so…The bi-coloured neon centres illuminate the uncanny resemblance between orchid and human reproductive organs; a parallel unlikely missed by the great man himself.
Orchis Exotica is an extension of Hart’s previous flowers that had similarly perfect symmetry but lacked the glowing portions. Despite LED lights being simpler to use, Hart tells Colossal she prefers the traditional mechanisms. “Why neon? Well, I am a lover of the light/art form; very much a rarity in itself these days with the advent of LED neon tube usurping traditional glass,” she writes. Constructed with a combination of 3D design software and traditional technique, each piece is hand fused and slumped to create the half-meter-wide flowers. They undergo multiple firings.
Of course, unlike living orchids, Hart’s sculptures prove their durability by their failure to wilt. Head to Instagram and Facebook to follow her vibrant works, and see which are available for purchase from Vessel Gallery.
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San Francisco-based artist Zai Divecha fashions countless pleats, creases, and flaps for her monochromatic paper sculptures. From geometric tessellations to flat sheets with dozens of rounded cuts and points, Divecha’s pieces accentuate the relationships between light and shadow and natural and manufactured elements.
Her inspiration is wide-ranging and includes “bathroom tiles, clouds, storm drains, the ‘skeletons’ of dead cactuses, peeling bark, raindrops on a car window, rock formations, ornate screens in Islamic architecture.” The artist also has woven data into her textured pieces, creating four artworks that represent HIV and AIDS diagnoses in San Francisco from 1992 to 2018. Each piece contains a series of cut flaps to visualize the number of cases.
In a statement, Divecha said her fascination with paper is derived from transforming an ephemeral, mundane substance into a permanent artwork. Only recently has she employed a single color. “The all-white palette allows me to create pattern and texture with just light and shadow alone, which feels soothing to me. I aim to create work that makes people feel centered, quiet, and focused,” she said. “I want my work to feel like a respite from an overstimulating world.” The move coincided with a switch in her personal life to limit her sensory input, meaning she forgoes fragrance and sets strict boundaries on the noises she consumes.
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One-hundred five fiberglass figures stand atop white chairs in rows that extend from the floor to the ten-meter high ceiling. Part of an exhibition titled Ataraxia, the LED-lit installation invokes the ideas behind the Greek word, which roughly translates to imperturbability, equanimity, and tranquility. The glowing project by Argentinian artist Eugenio Cuttica was on view in 2018 at the MAR Museum in Buenos Aires and explored the ways subjects can achieve balance and happiness through freedom from desire.
Ataraxia, the artist said in a statement, “points to a calm beauty, a calm but agitating act, moves the spirit and can even cause fear. It is an art that refers to the observer’s consciousness in its own insignificance and in unity with nature.” In addition to the expansive wave, the exhibition also featured a series of wooden boats and paintings meant to reflect on fertility, abundance, the sublime qualities of Argentinian landscapes, and the ways art and food intersect. The same feminine form is interspersed throughout and can be seen standing in one of the suspended vessels.
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A bronze piece by Brazilian artist Albano Afonso uses multiple sets of dangling hands that mimic shadow puppetry. Titled “Os Pássaros e o Lobo,” or “The Birds and the Wolf,” the sculpture is illuminated by a light projector, casting dark silhouettes on the wall behind it that resembles a mobile of active animals. In a statement, Afonso is described as being “interested in the anatomy of light: its intensity or softness, its ability to both illuminate and obscure, its sources, its symbolic and utilitarian uses, and its beauty.” You can follow his light-sensitive projects on Instagram.
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Iceland-based photographer Patrycja Pati Makowska utilizes the natural allure of Reykjavic’s landscape to capture her striking images that rely on the sunrise and sunset to transform a mountain shot into an idyllic work. Taken from Hallgrimskirkja, a church in Reykjavic, Makowska’s 2019 Texture of the Mt. Esja in the Winter Sun series shows the sunlight illuminating the top of the icy mountains with pink hues. The light fades into shades of purples and blues as it recedes into shadows of the snow-covered ground. Mount Esja, which is actually a volcanic mountain range rather than an individual summit, sits about 10 kilometers north of the nation’s capital city. At its peak, it reaches nearly 3,000 feet. For more of Makowska’s light-centric images, head to Instagram or Behance. (via Fubiz)
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Japan-based artist Ayumi Shibata (previously) constructs intricate paper cities and natural landscapes that both fit in the palm of her hand and are expansive enough to pass through on foot. Using dozens of layers of paper for a single project, Shibata carves miniature houses, clouds, and tree-filled forests that eventually are illuminated in glass vessels, stored safely in a book, or erected in large-scale installations.
The artist tells Colossal that she doesn’t use pencil outlines, in part because the white paper isn’t durable enough to be erased if there’s an error. Instead, she envisions the three-dimensional shapes she wants to create and begins cutting. “White paper expresses the yang, light, (and) the process to cut expresses the yin, shadow. When the sun shines upon an object, a shadow is born,” she writes. “Front and back, yin and yang, two side(s) of the same coin.”
Shibata also relies on the Japanese word “kami”—which translates to paper but also to god, divinity, and spirit—as she considers the relationship between humans and nature that turns up in her work. “The world of paper that unfolds within the glass expresses the micro world, which is our human world, the Earth, the universe, and other universes and dimensions. The life-sized forest installation expresses the macro world, which is outside of our universe and the unknown worlds.” Each time someone walks into a room with one of her more expansive pieces, she thinks it’s possible “we could meet, communicate and coexist with Kami, which exists but we can’t see.”
To check out more of Shibata’s structural projects, head to her Instagram.
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