Seattle-based sculptor Michael Alm forms lifelike animal sculptures from carved and shaved wood, often adding realistic features such as glass eyes to complete the anatomical studies. The works imitate the natural gestures of the animals he sculpts, such as “Jack Rabbit (Lepus Californicus),” which captures the animal mid-stride.
By presenting the animal in movement we are better able to see the tension explored through thin wood strips that gracefully cross over and under each other like muscular fibers. “The gaps in the veneer accentuate the tension in the form while lightening the visual weight of the creature,” he tells Colossal. “In this piece (Jack Rabbit), I’ve highlighted the elements which contribute directly to the animal’s movement and eliminated any excess. As a result, the form looks both strong and delicate much like the animal itself.”
Alm is also a furniture maker by trade, and the byproducts of this work serves as the bulk of the material for his sculptures. After milling wood he has plentiful strips to reuse in his sculptures. “These strips are extremely flexible and when layered up they remind me of muscle and sinew,” he continues. “The more I played with this material, the more I realized the amazing number of ways it could be used.”
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Amanda Parer examines the relationship between humans and the natural world in her massive inflatable artworks. The Tasmania-based artist works with a team including New York based co-producer Chris Wangro. Together, Parer Studio realizes her larger-than-life versions of translucent rabbits, a series of works called Intrude.
The white fabric appears opaque during the day as it reflects sunlight. After dark, the creatures take on a different dimension: they are illuminated from within and reduce surrounding humans into diminutive silhouettes. Parer grew up in Australia, where rabbits are a non-native species and are considered a serious pest as opposed to a domestic pet; since being introduced by settlers in the late 18th century, their overpopulation has caused substantial ecological destruction. Parer describes the further cultural contradictions:
They represent the fairytale animals from our childhood – a furry innocence, frolicking through idyllic fields. Intrude deliberately evokes this cutesy image, and a strong visual humour, to lure you into the artwork only to reveal the more serious environmental messages in the work. They are huge, the size referencing “the elephant in the room”, the problem, like our environmental impact, big but easily ignored.
Intrude, which Parer has created in a variety of sizes ranging from Small to XXL, has been exhibited at museums around the world, as well as installed at several music festivals. She encourages viewers to engage with the works, describing her smallest rabbits as “very huggable.” You can see part of the installation process in the video below, and find more of the artist’s work on her website and Facebook.
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The typical depiction of a rabbit, especially when used in Medieval art and literature, is an image of purity and innocence—a harmless puff of cuddly cuteness. Another common association with the rabbit is that of fertility, a sensical comparison when one is aware of the speed at which the species copulates. In some medieval illuminated manuscripts however, the illustration of a rabbit turns from harmless to violent, with several examples showcasing the formerly innocent creature in the act of decapitation and other sword-wielding wrongdoings.
A way to analyze these drolleries, or medieval margin illustrations, is to think about the violent role reversals as humorous symbolism. Because these animals were so low on the totem pole of fear, it was quite amusing to the medieval illustrator to draw them enacting a revenge—silly animals on the opposite side of the slaughtering. This was also a way for the artist to show the stupidity of the human who was the object of the rabbits’ anger, one who was foolish enough to be bludgeoned by bunny.
If all of this is hitting a little too close to Monty Python and the Holy Grail for you, read this comparison by Sexy Codicology between the historical illustrations and the film. Oh, and of course watch the killer bunny scene to see a modern day take on these vengeful rabbits. (via Jon Kaneko-James and Neatorama)
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Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, known for his large scale installations of animal characters, recently unveiled his latest work. Located at the Dayuan Town Naval Base in Taiwan, “Moon Rabbit” is an enormous yet adorable bunny that’s propped up against a grassy military bunker gazing up at the moon. To create the large-scale work, which is based on the East Asian folklore about a rabbit that lives on the moon, Hofman first created a wood and Styrofoam frame. And to achieve the fluffiness but also keep it weather-resistant the artist used over 12,000 sheets of Tyvek paper, a material normally reserved for home builders. Unfortunately, the bunny caught fire earlier today as workers were trying to disassemble it. But its counterpart can still be seen on the moon, or at least that’s how the story goes. (via Street Art News)
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