From hunks of beechwood or maple, artist Ariele Alasko carves sculptural works that take the shape of smooth curves, ruffles, and squiggled lines. The elegant pieces play with contrast and negative space and are assembled into abstract compositions, whether as a smaller wall object or expansive mobile-style suspension. In a note to Colossal, Alasko shares that she strives to sustainably source all of her materials, whether from local lumber yards or her own property in Washington State. The artist holds a BFA in sculpture from Pratt Institute, and you can follow her carvings on Instagram.
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A Monumental Bas-Relief Sculpture by Nick Cave Connects Senegalese and U.S. Cultures in a Web of Beadwork
Innumerable pony beads, pipe cleaners, sequins, and objects gathered from two continents overlay a web of rainbow mesh that’s suspended in the U.S. Embassy atrium in Dakar. Installed in 2012, the expansive work by Chicago-based artist Nick Cave (previously) is composed of amorphous swells and circular patches of multicolor netting that stretch 20 x 25 feet. Physically connecting pieces of both U.S. and Senegalese culture, the webbed, bas-relief sculpture symbolically stands as “a unifier that brings people together,” Cave says in an interview.
Virginia Shore and Robert Soppelsa curated the project for Art in Embassies, a program led by the U.S. Department of State that fosters cross-cultural exchange through visual arts and spans more than 200 venues in 189 countries. “When you think about Art in Embassies and cultural diplomacy, what is interesting for me, as an artist, is, how can I facilitate that within the work that is developed? Yes, I will create the piece for the embassy, but I was also interested in ways to integrate the artists that live and work here,” he says.
Cave developed the structural portion of the work in his Chicago studio, and after meeting Sengalese artists, scholars, and students, he utilized pieces from three locals—Seni M’Baye, Loman Pawlitschek, and Daouda N’Diaye—once on site. The resulting installation, which weighs nearly 500 pounds, took Cave and ten assistants more than three months to complete.
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Throughout 2020, Stacey Lee Webber developed Insurrection Bills, a revisionary collection of United States currency overlaid with subversive stitches: flames envelop monuments, a wall is left unfinished, and an eclectic array of face masks disguise Abraham Lincoln’s portrait. Contrasting the muted tones of the paper, the vibrant embroideries stand in stark contrast and as amended narratives to those depicted on the various denominations. “The series references feelings of anger, turmoil, and frustration during the tense political climate while recontextualizing and questioning the beloved iconography we see on our money,” she tells Colossal.
Currently working from her studio and home in Philadelphia’s Globe Dye Works, Webber is formally trained in metalsmithing—she has an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, where she initially began using currency as the basis of her projects—and sees the two mediums as an ongoing conversation. Embroidery “allows me to work in a quieter setting outside of my metal shop acting as a sort of ying to the yang, soft and hard, masculine and feminine,” she says.
Many of Webber’s sculptures involve soldering coins, including the copper penny works that make up The Craftsmen Series and question the value of blue-collar labor in the U.S. Comprised of hollow, life-sized tools, the collection visualizes “putting endless amounts of work into a single cent,” the artist says.
Webber has multiple exhibitions this year, including at TW Fine Art Palm Beach Outpost in April, Philadelphia’s Bertrand Productions in October, and Art on Paper Fair in New York City this November. If you can’t see the currency-based projects in person, head to Instagram, where the artist shares a larger collection of her works and glimpses into her studio.
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Despite their modest clothing and perfectly plaited hair, the women that artist Gerard Mas sculpts are spirited, brazen, and undeniably shameless. Whether blowing a wad of bubblegum, sporting visible tan lines, or unabashedly digging in their noses, the corset-clad figures are steeped in humor and wit and cast a contemporary light on the long-held conventions of the medium.
Mas began the ongoing series a few years ago as he ventured into figurative sculpture and struggled with portraying perfection and beauty. He shares:
This was an impossible job. There was always something that broke that beauty. And a sculpture attempting to speak of beauty with some disproportion or flagrant compositional flaw is pretentious if not ridiculous… I decided to anticipate that failure and deliberately introduce discordant elements that broke that pretended beauty by making our sense of good taste squeak. Let’s say it’s an ode to the impossibility of beauty.
Based near Barcelona, Mas originally trained as a restorer with a focus on reconstructing floral ornaments in architecture. “In my obsession with contemplating the art of other times, I also realized that our current cultural codes prevent us from contemplating the art of the past without reinventing its meaning. We are subjected to an avalanche of daily images that shapes the way we look,” he says. This experience continues to inform his practice that seamlessly melds traditional techniques—his use of standard materials like marble, alabaster, carved wood, gilding, and polychrome, for example—and contemporary subject matter.
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Encircled by oversized crowns of paper, two new masks by Patrick Cabral celebrate Filipino culture through elaborately fashioned works defined by their colors. Titled Mananayaw ng Langit at Lupa, or Dancers of Heaven and Earth, the ongoing series was commissioned by the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art for the Dinagyang Festival. The cultural celebration is held annually the last week in January with the Ati Tribe competition, which involves warrior dancers performing to loud chants and drum beats, as the main event.
Preserving the tradition in paper, Cabral’s masks both mimic the performers’ costumes and draw on the detail and intricacy of his earlier animal figures. “Lupa” is brilliantly colored and embodies the passionate spirits of a dragon or crocodile, representing Earth, fire, and light. “Langit,” on the other hand, is more subdued with bird-like features, peacock feathers, and a quiet expression. It symbolizes air, flight, horizons, and dreams. “Both animals are important because birds are used in ancient sea navigation, which our ancestors are known for, and the crocodile is the biggest animal native to the Philippines…I want one to look calm and the other chaotic. One is a feather. One is fire,” the Manila-based artist says.
Cabral currently is working on an exhibit for the Philippine Pavillion at the World Expo that shares the “courage of our ancestors, the people who brave the angry ocean from Taiwan to the Batanes Islands.” Follow that project and explore a larger collection of the artist’s painstakingly constructed works on Behance and Instagram.
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Say goodbye to the days of buying succulents only to watch them wilt and shrivel. Just flip open a pop-up book by photographer Daniel Gordon, and find a collection of forever-perky shrubs and greenery sprouting from the pages.
Published by Aperture, Houseplants features quirky still lifes of potted vegetation and fruit that Gordon developed using photographs found online, a process that’s central to his overall practice. The obviously constructed forms, which were created by self-described paper engineer Simon Arizpe, juxtapose the realistic nature of the plants with saturated colors and unusual depth, resulting in scenes that are distinctly informed by the internet and the melding of digital and analog techniques. “The seamlessness of the ether is boring to me, but the materialization of that ether, I think, can be very interesting,” Gordon says in a statement.
To add the sculptural greens to your collection, pick up a copy of Houseplants from Aperture or Bookshop, and explore more of the Brooklyn-based photographer’s vibrant, collaged projects on his site and Instagram. (via Juxtapoz)
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