Protected under tall glass cloches, Lauren Pruen’s botanical specimens sprout from root to bloom. The artist shapes thin strips of wire into tubers and stems that hold fabric florals, which she sometimes paints for variation in leaf color and added detail. Each delicate sculpture is an ode to natural life forms and the biological studies of centuries past, recreated as precious three-dimensional specimens worth preserving. Find more of Pruen’s ferns, lilies, and other works on her site and Instagram.
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At once malleable in material and secure in shape, the vessels that comprise Suzanne Shafer-Wilson’s body of work are intricate studies of texture, pattern, and space. The Illinois-based artist loops and twists lengths of wire into intricate baskets that range in size from 20 inches tall to the width of a fingertip. Using a technique similar to the one employed by sculptor Ruth Asawa to create her rounded, metallic forms, Shafer-Wilson works with an Italian needle lace method designed for fibers like wool and silk. She intertwines brass, copper, or sterling silver in place of textiles and fashions porous vessels with wide, gaping bodies and elaborately constructed outer walls.
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Whether standing a few inches tall or reaching more than a foot, the metallic vessels that Sally Blake weaves are all inspired by a single, skeletonized seedpod the Canberra-based artist found herself in possession of. “It was given to me by someone who understood my grief after my mother died, and it represented much of what I was feeling and experiencing,” she says. “It was vulnerable and yet resilient, and gently held its seed—the source of potential new life and inspiration.”
That original pod has since spurred dozens of baskets in varying sizes that Blake molds from lengths of copper wire. She manipulates the pliable material with tight coils and twists that rely on pattern and sinuous lines, creating organic forms evocative of seeds, sea creatures, lungs, and other natural shapes. The metal’s durability juxtaposes with the ephemeral, delicate subject matter, a contrast the artist draws as a way to speak to life’s cycles.
Blake’s works are on view through September 11 at Craft ACT in Canberra for her solo show titled Place Markers. Find baskets, pen-and-ink vessel drawings, and printed cards in her shop, and keep up with her multi-media practice on Instagram.
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An eclectic array of installations recently popped up at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia, transforming the historic neighborhood into a temporary wonderland teeming with quirky characters, large-scale interventions, and optimism. A life-size piñata shaped like a 1984 Thunderbird is parked on 12th Street, cross-stitched roses trail across the brick facade of Building 99, and a typographic message casts shadows on a pavilion in a call for hope.
Officially titled Mystery Island and the Marvelous Occurrence of Spontaneous Art, or MIMOSA, the entirely outdoor exhibition includes work from seven artists DAKU (previously), Justin Favela (previously), Kid Hazo with South Fellini, Reed Bmore, Liesbet Bussche, and Raquel Rodrigo (previously). It’s a collaboration between the anonymous collective Group X and the Navy Yard, which was overrun in 2018 by a gargantuan sea monster. MIMOSA‘s six site-specific installations are spread across 1,200 acres.
Activated by sunlight, DAKU’s installation “Rays of Hope” casts shadows in 25 different languages on a brick terrace in Crescent Park. Throughout the day as the light shifts, so do the silhouettes on the ground. “The sun has always been associated as a symbol of energy and so is hope,” DAKU says. Rays of light metaphorically serve as “a symbol of positivity and optimism.”
By translating the word “hope” into dozens of languages, the anonymous Indian street artist puts forth a welcoming vision. “When we see a native language, we have a sense of belonging and familiarity with the space. Especially in a foreign land or a place, it makes it more relatable,” DAKU writes. “Languages have been a part of every culture and (have their) own visual aesthetic… Culture is common ground for any language or a form of visual art, and if one comes to think of it, language plays an essential role. It binds the culture in forming into a community.”
A nod to his mother’s first purchase after immigrating from Guatemala to the United States in the 1980s, Favela’s paper-fringed car expands on the myth of “The American Dream.” “The promise that if you keep your head down, work really hard and save your money… you, too, can own a home with a two-car garage, get married, have kids, build an empire, and live an abundant and dignified life,” he says. Through his large-scale piñatas, Favela conveys stories like his mother’s, particularly in relation to her longing to return to Central America. “What about the immigrants that come here and realize that they moved to a country that does not want them here? Their stories are also important,” he says.
Questions about identity, including his own as a first-generation, queer, Latinx American, and the experiences of people who have immigrated to the U.S. face inform Favela’s artworks. He subverts common narratives by offering a revised way of thinking centered on joy:
What are we when we are not viewed as just a labor force? What if we stopped taking pride in suffering and the sacrifices that we had to make? What if we valued joy? Mental health? What if we could take a couple of days of…just because!? What would happen if could just be ourselves? When will we all be free?
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Known for his figurative wire pieces attached to light posts and other public fixtures around the world, Spenser Little’s recent artworks venture into the personal. Illumination Devices is comprised of the artist’s bent portraits and totems of merging faces, in addition to a series of irradiated kinetic sculptures. Evoking the nesting doll, these abstract figures contain spacious chest cavities that open up to reveal similar, smaller forms hidden inside.
For each lamp, Little carves a wooden structure of the main character’s head, welds a metal body, and overlays the components with thin paper “skin,” repeating the process for subsequent pieces. He also seats wooden figures in the deepest caverns. The relationship between the inner and outer sculptures explores the tension between the conscious and subconscious, which the artist explains:
I heard the analogy long ago the we, our active, controlled conscious, are merely riders on a large beast. We think our conscious minds are controlling the subconscious beast, but in reality, the beast goes where it wants revealing our unpolished motives. The outer self wants to project control and precision. The inner self is just trying to keep things working. The lamps are shells around motors.
By physically brightening the artworks, Little uncovers the link between the two sometimes disparate selves. “Art to me is the wordless conversation between us and our inner beast. To communicate with our unenlightened animal impulses is very illuminating to our true selves,” he shares with Colossal.
Little’s nestled sculptures are on view through September 20 at MOAH: CEDAR in California. Take a virtual tour of the show, and check out exactly how the articulate artworks function on the artist’s Instagram. (via Supersonic)
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Soon you’ll be able to mail a letter to a friend—or realistically, pay a bill—with a hint of art history. The United States Postal Service announced this week that it’ll be releasing 10 stamps inspired by renowned sculptor Ruth Asawa. The neutral-toned collection contains mostly her bulbous hanging pieces that appear to swell and contract in vertical lines.
Born in 1926, Asawa was forced into a Japanese internment camp by the U.S. government with her family during World War II. She learned to draw during her detainment, before eventually attending Black Mountain College, where she studied with Josef Albers and began to delve into wire weaving and sculpture. Later in her career, Asawa described her looped artworks as “a woven mesh not unlike medieval mail. A continuous piece of wire, forms envelop inner forms, yet all forms are visible (transparent). The shadow will reveal an exact image of the object.”
The forthcoming stamps feature photographs by Dan Bradica and Laurence Cuneo, with the selvage image taken by Nat Farbman for a 1954-issue of Life. To see more of Asawa’s wire works before you pick up the postal packet, check out the Instagram account that her estate manages. (via Artsy)
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.