It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, this artist takes the written word and uses it to carve rolling hills and steep mountains. Artist Guy Laramee transforms the pages of a book into a breathtaking a landscape by carving and shaping its pages into different geography. He uses books like encyclopedias and dictionaries to create mostly cliffs and steep rock formations. These tiny environments are incredibly detailed, as you can see each small tree, bush, and layer of earth. It is as if the pages have been corroded away, producing new form in the books. Erosion is a heavy theme in Guy Laramee’s body of work. Interested in ethnography, he explains that parts of cultures are often eroded away, lost to the hands of time. As technology advances, in print materials, such as encyclopedias, are on their way to being obsolete. The artist uses these “archaic” tools and utilizes them in a new way. Once a source for knowledge, now questions what is at risk of being lost culturally if these physical books do indeed disappear.
Guy Laramee is not just a talented paper sculpture, as you can see from the covers of the books he uses. He beautifully paints birds and sky on the covers and displays them upright so that you can see both sides. Both the inside and outside of these books are transformed into something amazing, showing different forms of nature. His miniature environments and ecosystems now live in the pages of books, reminding us of what stories and knowledge could possibly lay between the pages.
When Philadelphia-based artist Drew Leshko cycles around his neighborhood, he can’t help but look at the buildings, windows, doors, posters, trash cans and signs around him in a very different way than most people do. For him, they are the beginning of his next project – shrinking them into miniature replicas of themselves on a scale of 1:12. He cuts, glues, builds, layers, and sculpts 3D versions of different store fronts from wood and paper. Leshko says his art form is a way of preserving and archiving the condition of the buildings on his street, the rate and speed of gentrification and also comments on what people consider worth preserving, and what is worth destroying.
His paper sculptures are nostalgic of a time past; a look at his local life when he was younger; a recreation of what was. He has created versions of his grandfather’s camper from the 80s, a local church, a strip bar, a cigarette outlet, a deli, dumpsters, even vending machines. The accuracy of his miniatures and the attention to detail are what make his sculptures as impressive as they are. He even paints rust on over the old gutters or windows and puts acid rain deposits on the footpaths.
Leshko has not only been busy making building facades and details, he has also turned his attention to replicating campervans.
The buildings are huge undertakings and take a lot of time and patience. So I began to think about some smaller sculptures I could make, but most importantly, what type of objects can be constructed of paper? I started to think about tractor-trailers, vans, food trucks, and similar vehicles when I landed on camper trailers. My work has always included commentary on the temporal nature of things, so the transient nature of “RV culture” fits right in to that idea. (Source)
Leshko’s celebration of a particular moment in time is a good reminder to appreciate the way things are in our own neighborhoods – because they will certainly be changing, for better or worse.
For Susanna Bauer, a casual fall stroll can lead into a creative process. She transforms nature’s most fragile corpses into mini art sculptures. The leaves she delicately sews and crochets are brought back to life and hung off walls next to their fellow forest companions: pieces of woods and stones. With an astonishing dexterity she is able to roll, curve and assemble elements that were found dried and shriveled. She uses all of her concentration to operate on her findings. The artist takes the raw, emotionless leaves and patiently nurtures them, stitching back their wounds, unifying two different kinds of leaves together and taking care of the smallest details. Comparing the tenderness and tension of her work to the vulnerability and resilience of a human relationship.
She says she doesn’t work with nature but she collaborates with it. She respects flora, and her main will is to embellish the organic beauty that has fallen instinctively on her path. She closely examines how the fragile leaf, with no brutality, can be manipulated; and yet with a firm hand she pierces the dead element, making sure she leaves her imprint. Metaphorically, the work of Susanna Bauer is beyond interesting. To the eyes, it is a simple and precious vision, set in the immensity of a pumpkin toned abundant forest.
Susanna Bauer’s work will be exhibited at Salon Vert in Switzerland as part of a group show until August 2015 and at Lemon Street Gallery in Cornwall UK until September 2015.
Proving that snow globes aren’t just kitschy souvenirs, artist duo Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz create mini worlds covered by glass domes that are dark, gloomy, and slightly sinister. The scenarios they build are usually set in a stark wintery landscape and feature characters carrying out strange, ill-disposed acts on each other.
Working together since 1994, Martin and Muñoz source different figurines or model making elements, cut them up and re-assemble them as victims or criminals at a crime scene. They use plumber’s epoxy to build the base of the scenes, and cover it in a water resistant resin. Then, they fill up the globes with a water and alcohol solution, to create the authenticity of the object.
Taking inspiration from dreams, movies, and literature, the pair is happy to build on a bizarre or surreal narrative. Their scenes are very dark indeed: A man is caught in the act of dropping a boulder onto another man’s face, or we watch a woman suspiciously planting a dead tree in the snow, or two men vindictively dangling children over a deep dark well, all surrounded by the stillness of snow and winter. They see their snow globes as a celebration of that uneasy feeling you get when you are lost in a crowd, or left alone somewhere uncomfortable. Martin reflects on the environment that he grew up in and those feelings he experienced within them:
I always liked a good snowstorm, and so many of my best memories revolve around those occasions. The water is the thing in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Everything that comes out of it, everything that you can do on it, or in it, is special. (Source)
Their globes and a number of other artist’s impressions of winter were also featured previously in a post on B/D. Click here to check out the different ideas of just what that wintery spirit is all about.
The current political situation in Greece is on everybody’s mind at the moment. So the installation by Madrid based artist SpY couldn’t be more poignant. Made up of €1000 worth of 2c coins, he glued the coins to a neighborhood wall in Bilbao, spelling out CRISIS in bold, eye catching capital letter. Not surprisingly, given the current financial state across the continent, the passing public helped themselves to the work, and in less than 24 hours, all of the coins had disappeared.
An active urban artist since the 80s, SpY has been long involved in making subtle social commentary for all to see. He often installs large letters or text-based work on the sides of buildings, or creates shapes in ivy on walls; has wrapped up a police car in plastic and has also formed inaccessible areas that make people look twice. He interrupts people’s daily routes to work, or comments on the urban structures that surround them.
The bulk of his production stems from the observation of the city and an appreciation of its components, not as inert elements but as a palette of materials overflowing with possibilities. His ludic spirit, careful attention to the context of each piece, and a not invasive, constructive attitude, unmistakably characterize his interventions. (Source)
No doubt SpY’s techniques are effective – his irony and positive humor draw attention to pressing social matters, and in a non-aggressive way, make viewers think twice about their political and physical environment.
SpY’s pieces want to be a parenthesis in the automated inertia of the urban dweller. They are pinches of intention, hidden in a corner for whoever wants to let himself be surprised. (Source)
The owner of anthillart.com has been turning ant extermination into a controversial art form by creating aluminum casts of expired colonies. After locating an anthill — mostly, those of the fire ant and carpenter ant species — he pours boiling, liquid metal into the entranceway, solidifying the tunnels and killing anything inside. The cast of the ant nest is then dug out, sprayed off, and mounted on a wooden base for display. Many of them are then sold on eBay to schools and collectors.
There is no doubt that Anthill Art’s pieces are deeply fascinating. By extracting the colonies from their molten graves, he allows us to appreciate the intricacy and alien-like beauty of the various tunnels and chambers. The species have markedly different construction strategies: the fire ants’ patterns are dense and labyrinth-like, resembling coral formations and Christmas trees. Some of them have long tunnels reaching out to isolated chambers. The carpenter ants’ structures, on the other hand, are very linear, resembling fungi growths as they extend into the earth with central chambers branching off.
Unsurprisingly, Anthill Art has provoked ethical questions surrounding the destruction of life in the names of art and education. On his YouTube channel, the owner has explained that fire ants and carpenter arts are nuisance species, the former being an imported pest that is “harmful to the environment,” destroying crops and preying on bees and other beneficial pollinators (Source). And ant extermination is a common, ongoing practice — so does it make a difference if we turn their annihilation into art or learning tools? Defending his work against an onslaught of criticism, the owner has claimed that with the less-invasive carpenter ants he tries his best to find abandoned colonies (Source). At the intersection of art, education, and ethics, Anthill Art’s ant-tombs are topics of debate.
Turning to our readers: what do you think? Is it okay to cast ant colonies for the purposes of education and art, so long as the ant species are deemed “pests”? We’re curious to hear your responses. Learn more at anthillart.com as well as the website’s Facebook page.
The morbid sculptures of Caitlin T. McCormack would fit right in at your next Halloween party. She creates beautifully intricate skeletons of fictional creatures – rodents, seahorses, insects and animals. Not only do they look fragile, macabre, antique, precious and ghoulish, but you would probably be surprised to learn what they are made from. The artist actually discovered that covering crocheted cotton string in PVA glue stiffens the material, producing a bone-like effect.
Her dark, heavenly creatures are usually displayed, sprawled out and pinned to a dark board of some sort. They look as if their skin and meat has been carefully dissected and discarded, leaving their skeletal remains to be gracefully displayed for all to delight in their discovery. Not only does McCormack craft these intricate alien-bone-forms, but also delicate lace work, dramatic dresses that look like they were worn to a ghost’s wedding, and charming little illustrations and plasticine characters that usually reference a well known horror story.
The busy artist doesn’t stop there – her work will be also feature as a part of the group show Opus Hypnagogia: Sacred Spaces of the Visionary and Vernacularat The Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, New York. Exploring states we experience between waking and sleeping, the show is a journey into altered perspectives, dark thoughts and unknown visions. A combination of historical, ‘Outsider’ and Visionary art, the show promises to be enlightening and entertaining. Running from July 18th – October 15th, be sure to explore the show and bring out your own black magic.
In Robbie Rowlands latest body of work Interventions he looks at the nature of decay. During a residency in Detroit, Michigan he came across several abandoned houses which he ‘refurbished’ by ripping out certain sections and creating track-like extensions which seemed to break free and come alive. The idea behind this was to take a rundown or burnt out structure and bring it back to life, even if that only meant in a metaphorical sense. Rowlands’ narrative addresses invisible or inanimate objects such as walls or floors which only begin to get our attention when they start deteriorating or breaking down. Rowlands uses this as a jumping off point to examine ideas of form, rebirth and transformation. The majority of pieces look similar to wooden roller coaster tracks gone haywire breaking free of their static restraints and possessing a unique beauty. In others, especially those “ripped” from the floor inhabit insect qualities which might just be mistaken for an alien life form in the right light.
Various projects have taken the Melbourne native to different locations around the globe both in his native Australia and abroad. Rowlands’ older work has been featured on Beautful/Decay and can be viewed here.