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Art Craft

Turtles, Ducklings, and Pheasants Comprise an Adorable Menagerie of Miniatures by Fanni Sandor

July 1, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Fanni Sandor, shared with permission

Hungary-based artist Fanni Sandor (previously) expands her already minuscule menagerie with even tinier creatures. Using polymer clay, feathers, fur, and other materials, Sandor sculpts biologically accurate miniatures at a 1:12 scale, and many of her recent pieces include newborns and adolescents: a trio of joeys cling to their mother’s back, a chick slurps a worm, and a duckling grasps a monarch in its bill. Sandor shares more of the adorable animals and information on which are available on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Wangechi Mutu’s Sculptures in Bronze Populate Storm King Art Center with Mythical Beings

June 22, 2022

Grace Ebert

“In Two Canoe” (2022). All images courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, by David Regen, shared with permission

Storm King Art Center is situated on the ancestral homelands of the Lenape, a reference point that Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu returns to for a new exhibition at the outdoor museum in Hudson Valley. Comprised of her signature sculptures of immense hybrid figures, the largely bronze body of work addresses settler-colonialism and the inextricable tie between people and the land.

Perpetually evoking nature and mythology to address historical issues of contemporary relevance, Mutu positions women as the most powerful, revering their physical form and highlighting their innate connection to ecology. The artist’s latest work, “In Two Canoe,” features a pair of figures with branch-like appendages momentarily straddling a skinny vessel, their faces wrapped in mangrove leaves. “This plant has moved everywhere, has made journeys like those who were kidnapped from Africa and taken to the Americas. The water seals this unified story we’ve created for ourselves. We are all connected on this sphere of Earth and the water is how we go and find each other,” Mutu says in an interview.

Also on the Museum Hill site is the regal “Crocodylus,” a sleek reptilian creature that faces an opening in the trees. The scaly form corresponds with the massive coiled snake that occupies “Nyoka,” one of five sculptural baskets spread across the meadow. Inside the center are smaller earthen works constructed with natural materials like bone and soil gathered near her Nairobi studio.

Mutu’s sculptures are on view at Storm King through November 7, and she’s hosting a film screening at the museum on September 3. To follow her practice, head to Instagram.

 

“Crocodylus” (2020)

“In Two Canoe” (2022)

“Shavasana II” (2019)

Detail of “Nyoka” (2022)

“Crocodylus” (2020)

Detail of “Shavasana II” (2019)

“Nyoka” (2022)

 

 



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)

 

 

 



Art

In Spellbindingly Sensitive Sculptures by Nichola Theakston, Serene Animals Reflect and Dream

June 14, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Sacred Langur,” bronze. All images © Nichola Theakston, shared with permission

The natural world and moments of tenderness merge in Lincolnshire-based artist Nichola Theakston’s expressive sculptures. Serene mammals sculpted in terracotta and cast in bronze characterize a tranquil animal world in which they relax, reflect, and dream. “The notion that an individual creature may experience some spiritual dimension beyond its instinctive animal behaviours is the premise behind much of my work,” she explains in a statement. With half-closed eyes or faces turned skyward, each portrait is an intimate exploration of feeling and empathy.

Inspired by fauna seen commonly around the U.K. like hares and hounds, Theakston also focuses on distant or endangered species like langurs or polar bears that are threatened by hunting and habitat loss. She draws inspiration from ancient cultures that venerated specific animals, such as the Egyptian goddess Bastet who was worshipped in the form of a cat and warded off evil spirits and disease, especially those associated with women and children.

Theakston begins in the studio by pushing and shaping clay into the lithe forms of felines, primates, and canines, trying to capture gestures and contours that give each individual its distinguishing persona. Some of these are then cast into bronze editions to which she applies a patina, giving the sculptures a distinctive texture and hue. Some pieces live on in terracotta, applied with distinctive colored slips. “My main reason for working is to attempt to elevate the animal to an expression of something beyond a representation of its form,” she tells Colossal. Each portrait uniquely mirrors human emotional shifts, encouraging contemplation and communion with the natural world and reflecting on its delicate balance.

Theakston will have work in Art Laren with De Kunst Salon from June 17-19, and you can find more information on the artist’s website.

 

“Bastet,” bronze

“Macaque and Infant,” bronze

“Hare Head Study 2,” bronze

“Arctic Bear,” bronze

“Bastet Study 3,” bronze

“Sighthound,” bronze

“Macaque Study 4,” (2019), terracotta with applied slips

“Blue Bastet,” (2021), terracotta with applied slips

 

 

 



Photography

2022 BigPicture Competition Highlights the Resilient and Striking Biodiversity Around the World

June 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

“The Stoat’s Game” by Jose Grandío, Terrestrial Life Finalist. All images courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition, originally published in bioGraphic, shared with permission

Stoats, a type of short-tailed weasel, are known for their mesmerizing dances, a distraction tactic that involves twists and leaps like the one captured by photographer Jose Grandío. Jumping above the snowy landscape, the ermine bends its tiny body and opens its mouth in an extravagant gesture. Grandío’s shot is one of a dozen winners in the 2022 BigPicture Natural World Photography competition, which showcases the stunning diversity of life around the world. Similar to the 2021 contest, this year’s iteration focuses on the risk the climate crisis poses to the ecosystem and creatures so deftly captured by an international group of photographers. See some of our favorite images below, and find all of the winning shots on the competition’s site.

 

“Bee Balling,” by Karine Aigner, Grand Prize Winner

“Tunnel Vision” by Tom Shlesinger, Aquatic Life Finalist

“After the Fall” by David Slater, Aquatic Life Winner

“Frame Within a Frame” by Sitaram May, Winged Life Winner

“Hidden Beauty” by Tom St George, Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora Winner

“Spider Web” by Bence Máté, Terrestrial Life Winne

“Face to Face” by Fernando Constantino Martínez Belmar, Human/Nature Finalist

 

 



Art Craft

Vivid Compositions in Thread Enliven Hollow Spaces in Diana Yevtukh’s Striking Embroideries

June 3, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Why did they do this to us” (2022). All images © Diane Yevtukh, shared with permission

Ukrainian artist Diana Yevtukh draws inspiration from her surroundings by carefully situating cornucopian floral arrangements made of thread in the hollows of trees. Based in Lviv, her work has assumed more urgency since the invasion of her home country by Russian forces earlier this year, and pieces like “Why did they do that to us” draw on her background in photography and design to spread the crucial message that Ukraine remains under threat.

The artist’s meticulous needlework pieces feature a medley of vibrant flowers like poppies, daisies, and sunflowers, which nestle into the surfaces and appear to effervesce from within. Her works are often juxtaposed with rough or decaying surfaces like old stone walls or rusting metal to “heal” the damage, emphasizing the possibility for beauty and strength in unexpected places.

You can find more of Yevtukh’s work on Instagram.

 

“And the spring will come, and night will be gone”

“Life is breaking out of the mysterious hideaways”

“Stitch by stitch, cracked and forgotten wall blossoms with new life”

“No cage can hold the radiance of hope”