Aerial Photographs by Kevin Krautgartner Capture the Magnificent Power of Crashing Waves Above Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline
Nothing puts the enormous power of nature into perspective quite like the energy of our planet’s oceans. On a reef off of the North Short of O’ahu, Hawaii, some of the world’s most famously thrilling and dangerous waves present enticing conditions for surfing in an area known as the Banzai Pipeline. Photographer Kevin Krautgartner celebrates the mesmerizing, barrel-shaped breakers in Pipeline, a series of aerial images highlighting the formidable force of water crashing and whorling along the shore.
“Personally, waves always get my attention when I’m close to a coastline or the ocean,” Krautgartner says. “For me, they are especially unique because they are a natural phenomenon that can create a sense of awe and wonder… creating a rhythmic pattern that can be both soothing and exhilarating.” Going beyond documentation, he focuses on details like structure and form, examining the elemental interactions between light, water, and air. Taken from an aerial perspective and devoid of figures or landmarks for scale, he emphasizes how no two moments are the same: “Since nature is in a constant state of change, be it short or long term, each of my works captures a moment that will never happen again.”
Krautgartner recently released Water.Color, a book featuring his aerial photographs of surreal, watery landscapes. Find more of his work on his website, Behance, and on Instagram.
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The 2023 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest Dives into the Stunning, Heartbreaking Lives of Aquatic Creatures
Dedicated to spotlighting the most vibrant, awe-inspiring aquatic organisms, this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year competition centers on the mammals, fish, and plants occupying the world’s oceans and seas. The 2023 contest garnered more than 6,000 submissions from photographers in 72 countries, many of which document the striking scenes of life below the surface: stingrays glide along the rippled sands in the Cayman Islands, an elephant plunges its trunk into the waters off the coast of Thailand, and an orca gracefully dives into a school of fish near Norway.
While some photos highlight life at its most energetic and vibrant, others focus on the heartbreaking impacts of pollution and the climate crisis, more broadly. One image shows a humpback whale as it dies of starvation because its tailfin has been trapped and broken by buoys and ropes. “Taking this photograph was the saddest moment I’ve experienced in the ocean,” said the photographer Alvaro Herrero Lopez-Beltran. “Especially because I have spent so much time with humpbacks underwater, experiencing eye contact, interactions, and seeing how the whales are such intelligent and sentient beings. The photo is a reflection of how our oceans are suffering, the product of man’s selfishness and lack of responsibility.”
See some of the winning photos below, and find the full collection on the contest’s site.
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Jennifer McCurdy Harnesses an Island’s Natural Rhythms in Captivating Porcelain Vessels
The natural patterns of turning tides and changing seasons illuminate the delicate porcelain sculptures of Martha’s Vineyard-based artist Jennifer McCurdy. Responding to the shifts of island life—and “island time”—she draws inspiration from the surrounding environment and organic forms, like “the cracked conch shell on the beach revealing its perfect spiral to the milkweed pod burst in the field, its brilliant airborne seeds streaming into the sunlight,” she explains in a statement. Her wheel-thrown porcelain vessels capture both subtle and dramatic shifts in light and shadow, mimicking waves, gales, smoke, and flames.
In 2020, when, like many, McCurdy was obliged to slow down and approach her studio practice under the constraints of canceled exhibitions, she seized the opportunity to re-evaluate her own work, telling Colossal that “once my panic receded, I settled into the mindset of the sabbatical, exploring new forms and testing different carving patterns in the porcelain for optimal movement in the firing.” She broadened the questions she asked of her process and the influence it took from nature, such as how the rocks and shoreline met the surrounding sea or whether she could generate the energy of constant movement in her sculptures. “I think the direction of my work did not change, but it gained clarity from focusing on the space between and around each form,” she says.
McCurdy uses a translucent porcelain that she first shapes on a potter’s wheel and then manipulates, slices, or molds to create a sense of motion, often with a swirling or spiraling effect. A series of “pattern studies” highlight dynamic cuts that extend and slump with the assistance of gravity when fired upside-down in a kiln heated to cone ten—or 2,350 degrees Fahrenheit. With the addition of gold or platinum leaf on the interior, which is applied by the artist’s long-time collaborator, former sign painter, and husband Tom McCurdy, the vessels reflect light and evoke warmth, as if formed around a heat source
McCurdy’s work will be on display in Florida at Art Wynwood and The Palm Beach Show with Steidel Fine Art from February 16 to 19. In May, she will also exhibit in the Smithsonian Craft + Design Show in Washington, D.C. Find more on her website and Instagram.
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Vibrant Coral Expresses the Power of Nature in Courtney Mattison’s Whirling Ceramic Wall Relief
In Courtney Mattison’s elaborate ceramic wall reliefs, the rich textures and hues of coral sweep elegantly across vast surfaces. Made of numerous individual pieces that she forms by hand, each composition references the fragility, diversity, and resilience of marine ecosystems, which she describes as an effort to “visualize climate change.” Currently on display at the Brandywine Museum of Art, “Gyre I” draws inspiration from forces of nature exemplified in the immense power of hurricanes and the delicate spirals of seashells or flower petals.
See “Gyre I” in Fragile Earth through January 8, 2023, and find more of Mattison’s work on her website and Instagram.
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So Far So Good: Vivid Paintings by Murmure Take a Wry Perspective on the Climate Crisis
Artists Paul Ressencourt and Simon Roche, a.k.a. Murmure (previously), have worked collaboratively for the past twelve years to synthesize a studio-based practice with large-scale street art. In high-contrast acrylic paintings, the duo reference the climate crisis and enduring problems of overconsumption, especially regarding the immense impact that humans have on marine life and rising sea levels. The artists’ new exhibition Jusqu’ici tout va bien, which translates to “So far so good,” approaches environmental catastrophes like thawing glaciers and overfishing from a characteristically sardonic perspective.
Ressencourt and Roche focus on the absurdity of capitalist systems in the face of destruction. Paradoxes abound as surveyors plot developments on a melting ice sheet, supine whales are served up as giant sushi rolls, and oblivious holiday-makers dive from icebergs and wade around shorelines devoid of flora and fauna. “In spite of everything, Murmure favors in their art a form of beauty which contrasts with the cruelty, the stupidity, and the urgency of the situations depicted in their works,” the exhibition statement explains.
Jusqu’ici tout va bien is on view at Galerie LJ in Paris through November 26. You can find more of Murmure’s work on their website and Instagram.
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Tons of Discarded Fishing Nets Are Formed into the Wildlife They Entangle in Sculptures by Ghost Net Collective
A fishing net that has been lost or abandoned is known as a ghost net, one of the more formidable elements of “ghost gear,” which includes an array of traps, lines, pots, and other equipment discarded or no longer in use by the fishing industry. Due to their vast size, nets pose an ongoing threat to marine wildlife that get tangled in the synthetic mesh and to coral reefs that are smothered by them. Ghost Net Collective, an Australian cross-cultural group of artists who began working together at Erub Arts in 1996, seeks to educate viewers about what co-founder Lynnette Griffiths calls the “silent predator” of the ocean. Incoming Tide, a new exhibition of work by ten artists at JGM Gallery, dives into the story behind this enormous threat to marine wildlife.
Ghost Net Collective first began to work together in Erub, an island off the tip of Queensland in the Torres Strait. Home to around 400 Indigenous Erubam le, or Erubian people, from four different tribes, the island has a longstanding tradition of seafaring and fishing that has shaped its inhabitants’ lives for centuries. While derelict fishing gear bypasses Erub most of the time, in places where the tidal stream washes up, the situation for wildlife and the safety of shorelines can become much more precarious. “The western edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria gets huge amounts of net which drift down from Indonesia,” Griffiths explained in an interview with JGM Gallery.
The artists regularly partner with plastic retrieval nonprofits or the Australian Navy to source nets from beach-clean operations, and the group’s mission is to illustrate the perilous and damaging effects of plastic waste in oceans. Artists stitch vivid meshes and threads around metal frames into the forms of marine creatures endemic to the Australia coastline like stingrays or sharks.
In Incoming Tide, animals sail together through the space as if riding the same current, buoyant in bright hues and vibrant patterns as they convey an urgent message. “Some countries are still using gillnets,” Griffiths explains. “Those are nets set with radio beacons and they’re baited. They can be kilometres and kilometres long. When they become rogue nets, they just start fishing themselves.” By shaping marine animals from the salvaged materials in motifs resembling coral reefs or schools of fish, the artists hope to shed light on the immense impact of ocean plastics on marine ecosystems and the climate crisis.
Incoming Tide is on view in London through November 4, and you can find more information about Ghost Net Collective on Facebook.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.