For Myriam Dion, a newspaper’s narrative qualities go beyond the text on the page. The Montreal-based artist accentuates the daily briefs and profiles in publications like The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Le Monde by overlaying broadsheets with painstakingly cut newsprint. Brilliantly hued flowers veil an issue focused on the wildfires raging across California, while masked subjects appear in the foreground of a piece about the post-COVID economy. Each tableau centers on one narrative, supporting the journalism with intricate motifs and trimmed photographs spread across the unfolded issue.
Masking the text-based print with color and woven sections has been a recent addition to Dion’s practice. “This operation often doubles or triples the working time, but it helps solidify the works (which are already quite fragile) and gives more depth and possibilities to the patterns that I choose and invent,” she writes, noting that weaving thin strips through whole editions visually aligns her works more closely with fiber arts.
More often utilizing vintage copies of North American newspapers than she had previously, the artist has identified a through-line in many of the editions. “For a long time, and even today, the print media has been a forum articulated by and for the male sex, where women have occupied a limited place, and interestingly enough, the newspaper articles I have accumulated document the perception of women in the mass media over the last century,” she says.
Dion will be an artist in residence at the NARS Foundation in Brooklyn in 2021, where she plans to create 8-10 new pieces that merge these historic narratives with traditionally feminine art forms, like lacework and embroidery. The idea is subversive and pays “homage to the female public figures represented in these old newspapers, but more particularly to ordinary women to whom the recognition of any artistic contribution, both from a technical and conceptual point of view, has long been denied by the politics of art.”
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Perhaps no video game has evidenced the necessity of escapism in modern life more than Animal Crossing at the beginning of the pandemic. Players worldwide dove into the fictional universe to avoid the anxiety of daily life, a coping mechanism that a new animation by Austin-based creator Eric Power beautifully encapsulates. Set to a new song by Mixtape for the Milky Way, the short history is an ode to the charming simulation and a slew of its predecessors and contemporaries. The nostalgic video chronicles the evolution of video games—from Pacman and Asteroid to Cuphead, Limbo, and GRIS’s surreal watercolor landscapes—through a series of vintage television sets and classic simulations recreated entirely from paper.
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Shaped Using Precisely Cut Maps, Nikki Rosato's Busts and Portraits Connect Place, Memory, and Identity
Through mesh busts and delicate portraits, Nikki Rosato visualizes the connections between place and identity. The Washington, D.C.-based artist carves out the multi-colored highways and back roads from common maps, leaving the distances and spatial markings intact. She then shapes the cut paper into figurative sculptures and 2D artworks that vary in density and color depending on the original city or region.
Rosat utilizes the precise markings of cartography to highlight the complex, inner-workings of memory and belonging. “As we move through life, the places we inhabit and the people that we meet alter and shape us into the person that we are in the present day. I am interested in the idea that a place I visited as a child has affected the outcome of the person that I am today,” she says.
In a note to Colossal, the artist shares that she shifted her practice after her grandmother died in 2018. “I’ve taken the last few years to do a lot of research into my strong matriarchal lineage (my great grandmother literally walked hundreds of miles on foot with a 2-year-old to escape Lithuania in the early 1900s and then built our family in a small town in Pennsylvania),” she says, adding that her current projects consider the trajectory of these two figures’ lives.
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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.
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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!)
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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.
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