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Art

Expressive Portraits Made as Scrap-Metal Mosaics Question Societal Notions of Value

July 19, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Matt Small, shared with permission

At the heart of Matt Small’s practice is the idea that “there’s always potential within everything.” The British artist gravitates toward an overarching theme of disregard in both subject matter and material, choosing oxidized hunks of iron, bits of patinaed copper, and crinkled aluminum strips that have been relegated to the trash to construct his metallic portraits.

Expressive and emotionally charged, the corroded mosaics link rampant overconsumption and widespread tendencies to throw away what’s deemed obsolete or undesirable to the ways adolescents are marginalized and subsequently not seen as viable members of society. “Because of the social backgrounds they come from, young people find themselves overlooked, disregarded, and left uninvested in,” the artist says. “Marrying the discarded item and painting a portrait of a young person on it or utilizing the material to construct a mosaic face, I hope that the viewer sees that everybody and everything has a right to be viewed as valuable and of worth. It’s just up to us to see that.”

 

Detail of “Jake” (2020), assembled metal on wooden board, 35.5 x 35.5 inches

In a conversation with Colossal, Small references Marcel Duchamp’s urinal and the way that readymade sculpture upended long-standing notions of worth as a foundational concept he draws on his own practice. By turning debris and seemingly useless materials into works of significance, he hopes to prompt questions about the arbitrary values assigned to objects and people alike, explaining:

The scrap metal has worth because of what I did with it, not because I say it is of worth. The rusted tin can becomes a tone in the face. The shiny metal brings out a highlight on the forehead. All these worthless items have been incorporated into something that someone may now appreciate, and the potential of this scrap item can now be realized.

Small, who lives in his hometown of Camden, currently has work on view as part of Vanguard, which is considering the role of Bristol-area artists who’ve had an outsized impact on British street art since the 1980s. The extensive exhibition, which includes memorabilia and dozens of originals works, is open at M Shed through October 31. If you’re in London, watch for a large-scale mural portrait of the young British entrepreneur Jamal Edwards that Small is working on in Acton, and follow the artist on Instagram to stay up to date with his latest projects.

 

“Jake” (2020), assembled metal on wooden board, 35.5 x 35.5 inches

 

 



Art

Unruly Metals and Barbs Repair Broken Porcelain Dinnerware by Glen Taylor

July 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Glen Taylor, shared with permission

Ohio-based artist Glen Taylor (previously) mends porcelain dinnerware with brutal bits of metal and soldering that starkly contrast their smooth, delicate counterparts. Lengths of rusted barbed wire bind two halves of a teacup, sharp spikes border a saucer painted with flowers, and mangled silverware is piled in messy assemblages reminiscent of dinner-party aftermath. In recent months, Taylor’s repaired interventions have grown in size and scope, from single-serving dishes patched with a pair of jeans to full-scale tables set for eight.

In a note to Colossal, the artist shares that he’s in the midst of preparing for an exhibition this fall, and you can keep an eye out for details about that show on Instagram.

 

 

 



Craft Design

A Cleverly Designed Chameleon Conceals a Six-Foot Measuring Tape in Its Mouth

July 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Coppertist.Wu

Chameleons are known for their color-changing abilities, but this coiled lizard from Coppertist.Wu takes that gift for camouflage a step farther. Made from brass and manganese steel, the cleverly designed creature disguises its extraordinarily long tongue as a skinny measuring tape, which scales upward of six feet when fully extended. The playful gadget tends to sell out quickly, although there are a few currently available from Etsy and the Coppertist.Wu site.

 

 

 



Art

Found Silverware and Scrap Metal Are Welded into Lively Sculptural Creatures by Matt Wilson

July 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Matt Wilson

Wide spoons become muscular hind legs, pointed handles fan out into wings, and fork prongs curl around a branch like talons in Matt Wilson’s wildlife assemblages. Using found flatware and other metal objects, the Charleston-based artist (previously) welds sculptural renditions of birds, insects, and other small animals that appear lifelike and primed for movementt. He mounts the metallic sculptures on pieces of driftwood or smooth plaques—many of which are handcrafted by his friend Jacob Kent—that contrast the shining metal with the natural, grainy material.

Wilson has spent the last few years broadening his practice and working on multiple birds simultaneously, allowing for more cohesive, well-rounded flocks. His next collection launches at 9 a.m. EST on July 9 in his shop, and his works sell quickly so keep an eye on Instagram for early looks at the 100 creatures set for release.

 

 

 



Art Design Science

Metallic Specimens by Dr. Allan Drummond Perfectly Replicate Prehistoric and Modern Insects in Bronze and Silver

June 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Thorn,” bronze and sterling silver, approximately 4 x 2 x 3 inches. All images © Allan Drummond, shared with permission

Dr. Allan Drummond works at the intersection of art, design, and science with his metallic replicas of wide-eyed spiders, ants, and other winged insects. He buoys his research in the departments of Medicine and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Chicago into a creative practice that casts biologically realistic specimens with a focus on anatomical elements of prehistoric organisms most likely to be lost in the fossil record, including underbellies.

Each creature starts with a digital rendering created in Blender that’s 3D-printed in individual pieces—you can see examples of these initial models on Instagram. Drummond then casts the replica in bronze or silver with the help of jewelry designers in his current city of Chicago and later assembles and finishes the metallic components, which results in a meticulous copy of the actual insect whether life-sized or enlarged to magnify its features.

In a note to Colossal, he writes that the body of work shown here utilizes more advanced techniques than his previous models and came together with the help of two mentors, sculptor Jessica Joslin and the jewelry designer Heather Oleari. “Feeling the pieces for the thorn bug snap together in my hands—a total rush—was less a relief from stress and more a confirmation that, at least when it comes to building giant metal arthropods, I know what I’m doing,” he says.

If you’re in Seattle, head to Roq La Rue Gallery before July 3 to see Drummond’s exacting metal insects in person, and dive deeper into his process on Instagram.

 

“Proudhopper (Dictyopharidae),” bronze and sterling silver, approximately 5 x 3 x 3.5 inches

“Naphrys,” bronze and black glass, approximately 10 x 14 x 2 inches

“Naphrys,” bronze and black glass, approximately 10 x 14 x 2 inches

“Semibalanus,” bronze, steel, and silver, approximately 4.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Semibalanus,” bronze, steel, and silver, approximately 4.5 x 4 x 3.5 inches

“Thorn,” bronze and sterling silver, approximately 4 x 2 x 3 inches

“Proudhopper (Dictyopharidae),” bronze and sterling silver, approximately 5 x 3 x 3.5 inches

“Bellacartwrightia,” sterling silver and patina, 5.5 x 4 inches

“Farm To Table,” bronze ant, sterling silver aphid with black glass, two-carat cubic zirconia, approximately 9 x 5 x 2.5 inches

 

 



Art

Subversively Embroidered Money and Penny Sculptures Question Historical Narratives

March 18, 2021

Grace Ebert

From Insurrection Bills. All images © Stacey Lee Webber, shared with permission

Throughout 2020, Stacey Lee Webber developed Insurrection Bills, a revisionary collection of United States currency overlaid with subversive stitches: flames envelop monuments, a wall is left unfinished, and an eclectic array of face masks disguise Abraham Lincoln’s portrait. Contrasting the muted tones of the paper, the vibrant embroideries stand in stark contrast and as amended narratives to those depicted on the various denominations. “The series references feelings of anger, turmoil, and frustration during the tense political climate while recontextualizing and questioning the beloved iconography we see on our money,” she tells Colossal.

Currently working from her studio and home in Philadelphia’s Globe Dye Works, Webber is formally trained in metalsmithing—she has an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, where she initially began using currency as the basis of her projects—and sees the two mediums as an ongoing conversation. Embroidery “allows me to work in a quieter setting outside of my metal shop acting as a sort of ying to the yang, soft and hard, masculine and feminine,” she says.

Many of Webber’s sculptures involve soldering coins, including the copper penny works that make up The Craftsmen Series and question the value of blue-collar labor in the U.S. Comprised of hollow, life-sized tools, the collection visualizes “putting endless amounts of work into a single cent,” the artist says.

Webber has multiple exhibitions this year, including at TW Fine Art Palm Beach Outpost in April, Philadelphia’s Bertrand Productions in October, and Art on Paper Fair in New York City this November. If you can’t see the currency-based projects in person, head to Instagram, where the artist shares a larger collection of her works and glimpses into her studio.

 

“Masked Abes,” from Insurrection Bills

From Insurrection Bills

Detail of “Masked Abes,” from Insurrection Bills

A ladder from The Craftsmen Series, soldered pennies

From Insurrection Bills

Jewelry made from coins

 

 

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