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Art History Photography

In Craig Walsh’s ‘Monuments,’ Enormous Projected Portraits Illuminate the Selective Histories of Public Art

August 31, 2022

Grace Ebert

Charlotte’s Descendents (2022) for Charlotte SHOUT! All images © Craig Walsh, shared with permission

In the mid-nineties, Australian artist Craig Walsh created his first projection at Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. Made with photographic slides, the massive installation temporarily transformed a tree into a large-scale portrait, enlivening the canopy and initiating what’s become a 30-year project.

Now encompassed within the artist’s Monuments series, the digital works continue to animate landscapes and public spaces around the globe, and they’ve evolved in breadth and scope, sometimes incorporating live video and sound that allows viewers to interact with the illuminated characters. Blinking, yawning, and displaying various facial expressions, the emotive figures address both connections between people and their surroundings and conversations around whose stories are upheld and disseminated. “The work in the early days conceptually linked more to how the environment we exist in influences the human condition,” Walsh tells Colossal. “Surveillance was another interpretation.”

 

“Churaki Hill” (2017), three-channel synchronized digital video, projections, and existing trees, from Bleach Festival, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Today, the responsive installations more directly address traditional narratives and challenge “the selective history represented in our public spaces,” he says. Many of the Monuments celebrate people who significantly impacted their communities, and yet, might be overlooked. His 2017 piece, “Churaki Hill,” for example, pays homage to Churaki, an Aboriginal man who was responsible for many successful water rescues in the Tweed region in the early 1900s.

Similarly, Walsh’s recent installation in Charlotte, North Carolina, honors the descendants of Mecklenburg County’s Black residents. Created for the annual Charlotte SHOUT! festival, the trio of works occupies Old Settlers’ Cemetery, the burial ground for the city’s wealthy residents throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. He shares about the project:

Much like today, Charlotte was a diverse city in its founding century…By 1790, the census for Mecklenburg County lists a total population of 1,608 enslaved African Americans or 14 percent of the town’s population. By 1850, enslaved African Americans accounted for 44 percent of the total population inside the city limits. While their graves are not marked, the north quadrant next to Church Street is the final resting place for the formerly enslaved members of Charlotte’s first one hundred years.

On display earlier this year, the installation features folk artist Nellie Ashford, filmmaker and counselor Frederick Murphy, and DJ and musician Fannie Mae. Honoring the deep family ties and legacies these three hold within the city, the portraits memorialize their continued contributions to local culture.

Walsh is currently based in Tweed Heads, New South Wales, and his latest project is on view at Victor Harbor, South Australia, through September 11. Explore more of the Monuments series on the project’s site and Instagram.

 

Charlotte’s Descendents (2022) for Charlotte SHOUT!

“Monuments”(2014), four-channel digital projection, at White Nights Festival, Melbourne Victoria, Australia. Photo courtesy of White Night

“Intension” (2011), three-channel digital projection, existing monument, trees, from Ten Days on the Island, Franklin Square, Hobart, Australia

 

 



Art

Metaphorical Portraits by Michael Mapes Deconstruct Art History as Collaged Specimens

August 30, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches. All images © Michael Mapes, shared with permission

Photographs, scraps of fabric, human hair, dried flowers, and gelatin capsules are a few of the materials that artist Michael Mapes (previously) arranges into fragmented portraits and still lifes. Referencing traditions and prominent works in art history, Mapes interprets figures and fruits through deconstructed compositions. Set in specimen boxes evocative of those used in entomological studies, the collages utilize the metaphor of scientific study as a way to dismantle and reconstruct the contexts and meanings of the original works.

Mapes begins each piece with research around the subject matter and materials, and many of the artist’s most recent works center on muses, like fashion designer Emilie Louise Flöge who was the lifelong companion of Gustav Klimt. “I’ve been making studies, smaller scale works that allow me to consider compositional approaches for larger pieces,” he says about the series. “It connects the past to the present in a very personal way. A muse vibe is inspired by mining art history to find subjects that resonate with me and my work process.”

Mapes, who is based in Hudson Valley, has a few works currently available, which you can find on his site and Instagram.

 

Detail of “Blauw Girl” (2018), pinning foam, insect pins, photographs, specimen containers, glass vials, fabric samples, acrylic paint, beads, human hair, doll hair, gelatin capsules, canvas, cotton thread, and rope, 34 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Dutch Agatha” (2019), photographs, fabric samples, painted photographs, botanical specimens, spices, tea, tobacco, coffee, cast resin, clay, thread, hair, insect pins, capsules, specimen bags, and magnifying boxes, 20 x 20 x 3.5 inches

“HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

Detail of “HdP 02” (2016), pinning foam, canvas, acrylic, photographs, plastic containers, resin, fabric, gel capsules, and beads, 28 x 23 x 3 inches

“Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Clelia” (2021), prints, photo prints, costume jewelry, fabric, hair, dried flowers, specimen bags, insect pins, gelatin capsules, thread, misc printed elements, 23 x 28 x 3.5 inches

“Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

Detail of “Still Life specimens P4” (2021), archival prints, insect pins, map pins, magnifying boxes, specimen bags, dried fruit, and seeds, 12 x 12 x 3.5 inches

 

 



Art

Billowing Garments Encompass Diverse Narratives in Johanna Goodman’s Monumental Collages

August 29, 2022

Kate Mothes

“Plate No. 371.” All images © Johanna Goodman, shared with permission

Known for her vivid collages of female figures whose billowing garments embody an array of landscapes, architecture, flora, fauna, artworks, and symbolic objects, Johanna Goodman continues to celebrate the dynamism and diversity of women throughout the ages. Sourcing photographs and motifs from the public domain in addition to her own photographs, her ongoing Catalogue of Imaginary Beings series (previously) encompasses a broad spectrum of historical and contemporary imagery.

Monumental women confront the edges of these works, some of which are life-size at six feet tall, and their towering presence and voluminous dresses are ripe for messages and portraits of influential figures. Goodman’s response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June of this year spurred a series of collages that contain dozens of protest posters and slogans supporting the right to bodily autonomy. Many of the artist’s pieces are titled as numbered plates, such as “Plate No. 337, Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” referencing tipped-in color plates in old history and art books that were printed separately from the rest of the volume and often glued into place.

Goodman’s work will be included in the exhibition Drawings You’ve Never Seen at Egg Collective in Tribeca, which opens September 1. You can find more of her work on her website and Instagram.

 

“Plate No. 425”

Left: “Plate No. 464.” Right: “Plate No. 337, Ruth Bader Ginsburg”

“In Us We Trust,” poster design for Persisticon V

“Plate No. 42”

“Plate No. 277”

Left: “Plate No. 385.” Right: “Plate No. 456”

“Plate No. 446”

 

 



Photography

Black Women Photographers Is a Global Community at the Forefront of a Changing Industry

August 19, 2022

Grace Ebert

Esther Sweeney. All images courtesy of Black Women Photographers, shared with permission

In June of 2020, Polly Irungu launched Black Women Photographers with about 100 members and the hope that more Black women would receive commissions and greater recognition for their work. “I didn’t really know that photography was a space for me to be in, as I didn’t see myself in the world of photography or really any art spaces for that reason,” Irungu said about the impetus for the organization in a recent interview. “I think with the work that I’ve been doing, it’s obviously shattering that. It’s putting us, as Black women, to the forefront, as we have been shut out of the industry for so long.”

Just two years later, the organization has grown exponentially, now touting a global membership of more than 1,200 from 50 plus countries. It offers a directory geared toward curators, editors, and brands looking to hire, in addition to programming, educational opportunities, awards, and portfolio reviews. In 2021, it also established an annual $50,000 grant fund in partnership with Nikon, furthering its mission by providing direct support to those in the community.

Irungu—who was also just named photo editor for the Office of the VP to the Biden-Harris Administration—hopes to expand the original goals of the organization as it enters its third year and continue to champion Black women in the industry. She explains:

I just want to continue building this community, celebrating these works in the community, helping nurture these photographers and get them to the next level, whatever that next level looks like for them. But also to continue to take up space in this industry, letting people know what “Yes, we’re here,” and we photograph portraits, we photograph sports, music, fine art, and we photograph anything that you can think of, like architecture, real estate, outdoors, landscape, film, all of that is within this community.

In honor of World Photography Day (which is today!) and its second anniversary, Black Women Photographers is hosting a print sale. We’ve gathered some of our favorite images from the collection here, but visit Instagram for a deeper dive into the archive.

 

Clara Watt

DeLovie Kwagala

Kate Sterlin

Sherie Margaret Ngigi

DeLovie Kwagala

Sandy Adams

 

 



Art Illustration

Grainy Colored Pencil Portraits by Uli Knörzer Emphasize a Subject’s Distinct Demeanor

August 17, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Uli Knörzer, shared with permission

Berlin-based artist Uli Knörzer (previously) highlights the signature grainy texture of colored pencils in his faithful portraiture. Whether for personal projects or commissions from fashion labels and publications—many of the pieces shown here are part of a recent project for Tommy Hilfiger—the richly illustrated works hone in on the emotions of the subject. By positioning the figures against monochromatic backdrops devoid of setting, he accentuates the minute details of their facial expressions and body language.

If you’re in London, stop by Trinity Buoy Wharf to see some of Knörzer’s portraits in the group show for this year’s Drawing Prize, which opens on September 28. Otherwise, follow him on Instagram to keep up with his latest pieces.

 

 

 



Photography

Double-Exposure Photos by Christoffer Relander Superimpose Everyday Scenes onto Human Silhouettes

August 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Christoffer Relander, shared with permission

Spontaneity, honesty, and a desire for experimentation are at the heart of an ongoing project by  Christoffer Relander, whose dreamy compositions masterfully blend portraiture and nature. 365 Days of Double Exposure is Relander’s practice of documenting life around him, whether that be the mundane scenes inside his home or the landscapes and people he encounters. Like other daily projects in a similar vein, the goal is to create no matter the circumstances, and Relander carries a pocket-sized Ricoh GRIII with him to capture impromptu moments throughout the day.

The Finnish photographer (previously) recently released the first month’s collection on Behance—prints are available through his site—many of which layer silhouettes of children with foliage. Taken in black-and-white, the images delicately balance the human and natural elements, allowing facial details to peek through a garden of daisies or superimposing a deserted roadway into a profile so that it appears to lead into the figure.

Some of Relander’s compositions are included in a group exhibition through August 28 at the Museum of New Art in Pärnu, Estonia, and if you’re in New York City, you can see more of his work at Muriel Guepin.