Textural Sculptures by Artist Jessica Drenk Use Junk Mail, Book Pages, and Q-Tips to Explore Materiality
Montana-born artist Jessica Drenk (previously) employs simple materials, like shopping flyers and standard No. 2 pencils, to create organic sculptures that are chaotic and arresting explorations of the substances themselves. Bundled Q-tips spread across a site-specific installation like the roots of a tree, a carved section of plywood reveals concentric patterns, and strips of junk mail are plastered together in long waves.
While Drenk’s latest series, titled Transmutations, is diverse and ranges from wall pieces to cavernous sculptures, each artwork explores materiality and how disparate shapes and textures combine to create forms that are new both physically and conceptually. The artist explains in a statement:
In treating everyday objects as raw material to sculpt, I practice a form of conceptual alchemy: through physically manipulating these objects their meanings become transmuted. Each piece is a direct response to material—a subversion of the meanings associated with it, and a reference to the life cycle of objects through time.
Share this story
Overflowing with Flora and Fauna, Collaged Paper Installations Comment on Earth's Dwindling Biodiversity
Sprawling across paint-chipped walls and tiny alcoves, the collaged installations of artist Clare Börsch mimic overgrown jungles and whimsical forest scenes. Layers of flora, fauna, and the occasional gemstone or human figure comprise the amorphous paper artworks as they transform spaces into fantastical ecosystems.
In a note to Colossal, Börsch shares that she began her artistic practice as a way to translate her dreams, which are often lucid and informed by memories and a strong tie to nature, into physical objects that others could immerse themselves in. “Growing up in Brazil, I had the ocean, rivers, and jungles that always existed in stark contrast to the industrial cities (I lived in Sao Paulo). So my earliest and most formative memories are of lush, humming tropical ecosystems —and the encroaching industrial landscapes of Brazil’s cities,” she says.
The Berlin-based American artist sources her many of the vintage photographs from open source archives, including the Biodiversity Heritage Library (previously), Pixabay, and Unsplash. Some of the botanical elements she draws or photographs herself before cutting around the organic elements and assembling them in new, sometimes bizarre, compositions.
Despite the vibrancy and lively qualities of the three-dimensional collages, Börsch uses her artworks to reflect on the ongoing climate crisis and destruction of biodiversity, commentary that’s laced with themes of decay and death. She explains:
This came into focus for me when I made a series of collages and then later realized that many of the species in the vintage illustrations had already gone extinct. Humanity has wiped out 68% of all our planet’s biodiversity since 1970, so working with vintage illustrations can be very heartbreaking as much of the diversity in these gorgeous old naturalist prints has been wiped out by human activity.
Since then, Börsch has been collaborating with scientist Louisa Durkin, of the Nordic Academy of Biodiversity and Systematics Studies, to identify ways the artworks can spark awareness and dialogue about environmental issues. “I often say that I do not want my art to be a funerary dirge for everything we could have saved,” she says.
In recent months, Börsch has been working on a commissioned series that will culminate in a forthcoming book, titled Why Do Tigers Have Whiskers? And Other Cool Things About Animals, which is scheduled for release by Thames & Hudson in May 2021. Follow the artist on Instagram to see her latest projects, including an immersive installation commenting on regenerative approaches to tackling problems of biodiversity, which she plans to unveil in early November. (thnx, Elsie!)
Share this story
Through dreamy photographs, multi-disciplinary artist Mono Giraud accentuates the feathered fronds of wheat stalks and paper’s smooth curves. Based in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Giraud consistently strives for simplicity and a focus on humble items in her practice that spans design, photography, and fine art. “I’m interested in the conjunction of energy between objects and people, like in a dance,” she shares with Colossal.
Evoking sprawling sculptures, Giraud’s garments are often neutral-toned to maintain the integrity of the original material. Dresses flow down into pools of fabric that then form wrinkly backdrops, spools of twine are arranged to mimic a sash and headdress, and a woven basket pocked with straw perches on a subject’s head.
Giraud manages an atelier and shop in the Argentinian capital, where she sells many of the goods used in her photographs. Despite working across mediums, she describes her practice as cohesive and as a search “to express my personal views and emotions of the soul.” The artist expands on the idea:
My work is about living the process. And this process has to be healthy, the energy is renewed instead of running out… and simplicity must be felt in each step. I go across the process to finally get to discovery. The travel is about feeling, touching, smelling, breathing, and crossing boundaries. I focus on the journey more than to reach a goal or arrive (at) a destination.
Share this story
After a slew of houseplant casualties, Mabel Low decided to trade in her withering blooms for a more durable option. The Singapore-based artist, who launched the studio Papersynthesis in 2020, crafts lifelike hydrangeas, sunflowers, and an array of succulents entirely from cardstock. She sculpts each form with precision, adding in the delicate veins marking a leaf or the curled edges of a petal.
Share this story
Fringed Paper Networks Peek Out From Vintage Encyclopedias, Textbooks, and Classics by Artist Barbara Wildenboer
From the covers of René Descartes’s Cogito Ergo Sum and Homer’s The Odyssey emerge vast webs of spliced pages. Artist Barbara Wildenboer (previously) overlaps countless strands of paper as part of her ongoing Library of the Infinitesimally Small and Unimaginably Large series. The new sculptures similarly feature masses of fringed pages, with the hand-cut forms lining the edges of the opened texts and peeking through the hollowed covers. Each spine is left intact.
Wildenboer tells Colossal she’s been preparing for SUPER/NATURAL, a solo exhibition in November at Everard Read, that considers the relationship between science and the supernatural and has influenced her recent choices in books. Alongside photographic collages, the text-based sculptures “function as narrative clues, intertexts, or ‘subtitles,'” she says.
A lot of the new book works deal with subject matter that relate to my understanding of the nature of invisible or quantum reality—a reality that we cannot see with our physical eyes. Where nature is the visible realm, supernature also operates on ‘natural’ laws, although we can’t always see them, i.e. for example, magnetism, gravity, and electricity, the celestial orbits, and star cycles. But it’s all levels of ‘nature.’
Since Cape Town, where Wildenboer is based, was locked down due to COVID-19, she’s been altering the vintage copies she’s had stored. The result is sculptural series fashioned from the pages of Camera Obscura, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Inventions, and the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Compared to the massive encyclopedias and atlases she often utilizes, the smaller works appear almost miniature.
To keep up with Wildenboer’s sprawling artworks, head to Instagram.
Share this story
Meticulously cutting each piece by hand, Katsumi Hayakawa crafts dense cityscapes and urban districts from white paper. The Japanese artist assembles towers and various cube-like structures that are positioned in lengthy rows, resembling congested streets. Dotted with primary colors and metallic elements, the sculptures evoke electronic equipment like microchips and motherboards, which references the relationship between modern cities and technology. Hayakawa’s use of an ephemeral, organic material further contrasts the manufactured nature of both urban areas and technological inventions.
To explore more of the artist’s projects that are concerned with the complexity of modern life, head to Artsy.
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Design
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.