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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“Sequins are synonymous with plastic waste,” says renowned designer Phillip Lim about an endeavor to combat the egregious amount of pollution generated each year by the fashion industry. He’s part of the 2020 cohort for One X One—a Slow Factory Foundation initiative that matches scientists and designers with an eye toward regenerative technologies, equitable production, and circular economy models—in which he collaborated with Charlotte McCurdy, a researcher who’s undertaken a variety of sustainable-fashion projects. Together, they created a luxe A-line dress covered in algae sequins that’s free from petroleum and other synthetic materials.
In their partnership, the duo drew on McCurdy’s process of pulling carbon from the atmospheric reservoir and binding the organic substance together with heat, a method she used previously to create a water-resistant raincoat made from marine micro-algae. The bioplastic then is poured into custom molds and emerges in sheets that the pair cut into long, arced sequins. Because the algae-derived substance wasn’t suitable for the dress form, Lim and McCurdy sourced a mesh base from PYRATEX, a Madrid-based brand specializing in a seaweed-and-bamboo fiber called SeaCell that’s both an antiperspirant and thermoregulating.
Speckled near the neckline with mother of pearl, the resulting dress is covered in the translucent green fringe, a color McCurdy derived organically from minerals. “The majority of our modern dyes and pigments are petrochemical in origin,” she told Dezeen. “But we had a huge, rich vocabulary of color before the Industrial Revolution that was not taking fossil fuel out of the ground, so I looked into traditional approaches to producing oil paints, which involved mineral pigments.”
Lim and McCurdy’s design isn’t for sale commercially but rather serves as a prototype for garment production in the future. For similar initiatives, check out the two other projects generated by the 2020 cohort, which include leather sneakers grown from bacteria and an apprenticeship in sustainable fashion for women from low-income and immigrant communities, on One X One’s site.
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Venus Fly Traps, Lotus Flowers, and Mushrooms Are Ovaries in Sarah Leonard's Reproductive Embroideries
Manchester-based artist Sarah Leonard reimagines female reproductive systems with shimmering sequins and sparkling beadwork. Her embroidery pieces, which she creates under the name Atypical Stitch, are formed on hoops holding bamboo viscose, and they incorporate embellishments and visual puns including moon cycles, venus fly traps, and hourglasses. Leonard shares with Colossal:
Many of my followers and customers find the uterus designs empowering, particularly in a time where female reproductive rights and healthcare are under threat. However, I also try to create pieces which comment on the negative connotations of the uterus symbol—for example the overwhelming pressure that many women feel as a result of society’s expectation for women to be mothers.
The artist began her embroidery practice during the final year of her PhD program as a well-being activity that helped her relax and turn her focus away from her studies. Leonard’ works full-time as a research associate in the field of forensic psychiatry, but she continues to make time for her creative practice. Leonard shares her work on Instagram, where you can also contact her for commissions. In addition to her anatomically-themed pieces, Leonard also recently started “Atypical Kids” for wall decor and wearable designs that appeal to children. (via Juxtapoz)
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Embroidered and Beaded Coral Sculptures by Aude Bourgine Honor the ‘Lungs of the Oceans’ in Protective Glass
French visual artist Aude Bourgine’s work is informed by her love of the environment and a sense of guilt for what humanity has done to the natural world. Using textiles, beads, and sequins, the artist creates displays that capture the beauty and fragility of coral for a series called “Poumons des océans,” which translates to “Lungs of the Oceans.”
Bourgine’s sculptures mimic the unique shapes, intricate textures, and vivid colors of living coral. Encased in glass bell jars, they are simultaneously isolated as objects of wonder, and also protected from harm caused by the hands of humans. “If we do not rapidly change our relationship with our environment, oceans will be dead by 2050,” the artist said in a statement on her website. “Their disappearance will entail a disastrous imbalance on all ecological, climate and human levels…We must take heed for this universal cause, which concerns each and every one of us.”
Bourgine has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Saint Julien Chapel in Le Petit-Quevilly in northern France from June 7 through 30, 2019. You can see more of Bourgine’s sculptural works of the sea on Instagram. (via The Fiber Studio)
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