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Colossal Craft

Join Us for A Colossal Workshop on Paper Scaling with Hollie Chastain

July 25, 2022

Colossal

All images © Hollie Chastain, shared with permission

Chattanooga, Tennessee-based artist Hollie Chastain is known for layering found photographs, book pages, and other ephemera into textured, mixed-media collages. This month, Chastain joins Colossal for a virtual workshop on paper scaling, or the process of cutting small, rounded forms from the humble material. In our session, we will spend an hour learning how to add shadow and dimension to both a solid color and portrait, and attendees will leave with a few additional tips and tricks for future projects.

Registration is open now for the August 20 workshop, and if you’re a Colossal Member, be sure to use the code in your account for $5 off. Ten percent of all proceeds will be donated to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

 

 

 



Art

Gears and Architectural Structures Emerge from Michael Velliquette’s Meditative Paper Sculptures

July 16, 2022

Gabrielle Lawrence

“The fullness of experience in the emptiness of awareness” (2022), paper sculpture, 12 x 12 x 6.5 inches. All images © Michael Velliquette, shared with permission

One look at Michael Velliquette’s paper sculptures, and you may find yourself lost in the majesty of the construction—feeling the intricate gears, fanning geometric arches, and echoing layers churning inside of you.

A circle is more than it appears in his works as it spirals into a chamber of other shapes. Each interpretation expands its form from the structural foundation to the tip of an accentual cut. As Velliquette (previously) describes: “I start out cutting small concentric shapes and layering them. That becomes the center. I then build more elaborate components that respond to the previous ones and then build out from there. I call it ‘slow-motion’ improvisation.”

Velliquette’s paper sculptures are not all about shape, though. The works’ bronze and metallic colors absorb the viewer’s attention as seen in “My soul is alight with your infinitude of stars,” As Velliquette shares, “color [a]ffects mood,” and since he arrives at the final structure of the piece methodically and organically, hue also guides the meditative experience of his work, imbuing each sculpture with its special character.

 

Velliquette spends 300 to 500 hours on each sculpture using mainly basic straight-edge scissors and X-Acto knives. He says:

​​For me, there is a difference between ‘patience’ and ‘concentration’. Patience arises when there is something unpleasant I have to endure, which is rarely the case when it comes to making my work. However, most artists I know develop good concentration skills, which is the ability to sit in a focused state for a long period of time. So, yes, my work has helped me gain an ability to concentrate, and it isn’t uncommon for me to work for six to eight hours straight on a piece without feeling too stressed or fatigued.

There is a parallel in something like paper, a material that exists somewhere between strength and fragility, and the kind of play that triggers concentration. Both are vulnerable: paper in its duality and concentration in that it massages the subconscious in its meditative state. All energy is channeled into working on the task at hand, and at the same time, especially with art, something deeper on the inside is being stretched, worked out, and unbuttoned. Where nothing (or very little) is happening, so is everything.

For example, in “The fullness of experience in the emptiness of awareness,” the eye-level view is an astounding accomplishment. Its structure evokes mythical qualities, and it tugs at the imagination. However, it’s the aerial view—the inner workings—that evoke trance and wonder, the vastness of concentration and deep observation, the reminder that bodies will breathe all on their own. When all is said and done, something beautifully intricate will come of our simple and everyday efforts.

Find more of Velliquette’s work on his site and Instagram.

 

“I have hymns you haven’t heard” (2022), paper sculpture, 
20 x 20 x 2 inches

“
Everywhere transience is plunging into the depth of being” (2020), paper sculpture, 12 x 12 x 9 inches

Left: “I have hymns you haven’t heard” (2022), paper sculpture, 
20 x 20 x 2 inches. Right: “My soul is alight with your infinitude of stars” (2021), paper sculpture, 12 x 12 x 3 inches

Detail of “The fullness of experience in the emptiness of awareness” (2022), paper sculpture, 12 x 12 x 6.5 inches

Left: “You create yourself in ever-changing shapes that rise from the stuff of our days” (2022), paper sculpture
, 20 x 20 x 2 inches. Right: “The love that would soak down into the center of being” (2020), paper sculpture, 20 x 20 x 8 inches

“It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being” (2021), paper sculpture, 16 x 6 x 6 inches

 

 



Craft Illustration

Vivid Contours Conjure Hope and Resilience in Yulia Brodskaya’s Quilled Paper Compositions

July 12, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Phoenix” (2022). All images © Yulia Brodskaya, shared with permission

In Greek mythology, the sacred phoenix, with its characteristically striking plumage in flaming yellow, orange, and red, is known for its ability to resurrect. When the bird’s long life is nearing an end, flames engulf its body, and the being is reborn as a chick in the ashes of its predecessor, giving it the distinction of resilience, regeneration, and immortality. As Yulia Brodskaya began to apply the curled and crimped tendrils of paper to her latest work, she tells Colossal that the firebird portrait “started as a visual representation of a powerful feeling rising from the deep,” adding that “it felt like this portrait has been ‘channelled’ through me.”

Brodskaya captures the subtleties of individual expression and character in her elaborate portraits (previously) and depictions of flora and fauna. Through boldly colored papers that are rolled, folded, and layered, she reveals a flurry of feathers or the contours of a face in intricate detail, like the sense of serene contemplation that permeates “Samurai Dreams.” She wants every piece to send a message, suggesting viewers “pay attention to what emotion or feeling comes up for you in the first moments you see it—until the mind begins to dissect the details and offer loud opinions about why you like or dislike it. That initial quiet voice is the whisper of intuition. That’s the place I create my best work from.”

You can find more information about Brodskaya’s work on her website, and she regularly shares videos of her process on Instagram.

 

“Phoenix” (detail)

“Phoenix” (detail)

“Samurai Dreams” (2022)

“Samurai Dreams” (detail)

“Samurai Dreams” (detail)

“Parrots” (2022)

“Parrots” (detail)

“Butterflies” (2021)

“Butterflies” (detail)

 

 

 



Art

Paper Show: A Group Exhibition Highlights 14 Artists Exploring the Vast Potential of Paper

June 22, 2022

Grace Ebert

Julia Ibbini. All images courtesy of Heron Arts, shared with permission

One of the most reliable communication materials for centuries, paper historically has served as a vessel, a container for notes or the foundation of an artwork. An upcoming group exhibition at Heron Arts, though, focuses on the humble medium itself and highlights 14 contemporary artists expanding its creative potential. Paper Show features an array of styles, structures, and techniques from the whimsical mobiles of Yuko Nishikawa and Roberto Benavidez’s piñatas to Julia Ibbini’s laser-cut motifs and typographic messages from Judith + Rolfe. Opening July 9, the exhibition will be up through August at the San Francisco gallery. You also might enjoy this book that looks at the artists defining the medium.

 

Yuko Nishikawa

Pippa Dyrlaga

Julia Ibbini

Roberto Benavidez

Roberto Benavidez

Pippa Dyrlaga

Judith + Rolfe

Ale Rambar

Huntz Lui

Huntz Lui

 

 



Art

Sensual Sculptures by Polly Verity Tease Moments of Intimacy Out of Single Sheets of Paper

June 14, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Polly Verity, shared with permission

Wales-based artist Polly Verity (previously) coaxes sheets of watercolor paper, canvas, and wire mesh into elegantly suggestive sculptures. The minimal works are carefully molded through a series of bends, twists, and slight folds that contour pursed lips or a rose grazing a nose, and each curve subtly alters the figure’s expression. Alongside her facial silhouettes, Verity also shapes fragmented torsos and voluptuous limbs, an expansion of her practice that connects the “sensual and yielding” material more directly to the subject matter.

“I work in the moment, perhaps imparting an initial deep crease in the paper, taken by the whim of the moment and open to any form that begins to suggest itself. I work with the paper, gently exaggerating a hint of form or gently working an area until a form feels sure and authentic,” the artist tells Colossal. There’s a delicate balance between the intimate and the erotic, though, and when the latter or a form that’s too personal emerges, she discards the piece.

Verity is currently collaborating with the sound collective Crimson Yew to create a body of work that responds to its live music—if you’re in Wales, you can catch their next performance on June 25 at Davies & Co. She also has a few pieces available in her shop and at The Old Bank Vault, and you can find much more of her practice on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Vegetation and Hybrid Figures Entwine in Winnie Truong’s Mythical Collaged Drawings

June 10, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Mothercraft” (2022), drawing and cut paper collage on panel, 20 x 16 inches. All images © Winnie Truong, courtesy of VIVIANEART, shared with permission

Canadian artist Winnie Truong recontextualizes the sleek, piecey qualities of human hair in her cut-paper collages. Constructed in layers within rectangular frames, the surreal works utilize the soft texture to depict flowers, vegetation, and strange anthropomorphic figures with elongated fingers and faces obscured by body parts or surroundings. Each piece is rooted in Truong’s drawing practice, and the colored pencil renderings add depth to the mythical compositions.

An extension of her two-dimensional works, these dioramas similarly explore the connection between women and nature. Many of the hybrid figures are entangled with foliage and their own anatomies, positioning traditional understandings of beauty alongside disorienting and more fantastic forms.

Visit Truong’s Instagram for more of her recent works and a glimpse into her process.

 

“Yellow Wallpaper and Scarlet Vipers” (2021), drawing and cut paper collage on panel, 20 x 16 inches

“Lilies in the Bog” (2021), drawing and cut paper collage on panel, 20 x 16 inches

“Twin Letdown” (2021), drawing and cut paper collage on panel, 24 x 18 inches

“Eyes at Dusk” (2022), drawing and cut paper collage on panel, 24 x 20 inches

“Distal Edges” (2021), drawing and cut paper collage on panel

“Gentle Snares” (2021), drawing and cut paper collage on panel, 20 x 16 inches