Recent Ontario College of Art and Design graduate Sarah Joncas already has a distinct, characteristic style that has earned her several awards, as well as garnered the attentions of top galleries around the US. Her paintings often focus on a lone woman, drawing out her narrative in a combination of bold hues and shadowy tones. The themes explored in her works are at times dark but at other times quite whimsical. Currently, the Toronto-based artist is representing Canada in an all-female group show entitled ‘International Woman’ which can be caught at the UK’s Warrington Museum now through July 7th. Living on this side of the pond, as they say? Then check out the artist’s upcoming joint show with fellow painter Caia Koopman, opening June 16th at Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City, California.
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Photographer SD Holman uses her talent as a portrait photographer to capture women who fall outside of the traditional gender binary. In her series “BUTCH: Not Like the Other Girls,” masculine women are not oddity or other. These are photos of women who identify as butch captured by a butch woman—they are women defining themselves. In this way, Butch has much in common with the current social campaigns stripping women of makeup, enhancements, and retouching and declaring them more beautiful without the artifice. This is part of Holman’s intent with the show—to use the Butch identity as an example of one of the classifications through which women are objectified. The difference though is the hate and fear that Butch women have faced as transgressors of societal constructs of femininity. Holman says:
“Butches and all gender variant folk walk in a world that is really hostile to them, so we tend to look inward. I was inspired to show their beauty by my wife Catherine, a femme who loved butches, and encouraged me to do this when I started talking about it.”
The rich diversity of butch women is evidenced here. Just as there isn’t one way to be a woman, Butch includes women of all shapes and colors and styles. The fluidity of gender is apparent in each photo.
Holman is an artist. Her portraits are classically beautiful, with their artful lighting and dramatic contrasts. The subjects mostly gaze through the lens to the viewer, unapologetic and authentic. There is no contrivance in these images, no sense of willful provocation nor is there any sense of apology. Author Amy Bloom writes, “Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.” These photos are intimate and groundbreaking, brave and matter-of-fact, beautiful and handsome.
Collage artist Ashkan Honarvar (previously featured here) creates intriguing paper works that are undeniably macabre, and eerily beautiful. He deals with the darker side of humanity, and how identity is formed through the human body. Usually taking images of faces, people or bodily forms, Honarvar splices images together and recreates an idea of how we perceive ourselves, or the role the human body plays in history. In this series Conquest 5, he is concerned with the idea of colonization and the idea of superimposing one culture on top of another. He takes this concept quite literally and overlays images of wealth (gems, jewels, precious textiles) and tools that would be used to colonize a culture over images of peaceful, relaxed indigenous people.
In Die Weissen Kommen (The Whites are Coming) Gert von Paczensky wrote: ‘If we delve into the core of colonialism then we see that the whole thing was one big plundering expedition, one continuous assault and robbery that involved massacres and mass murders, gold and bloodbaths, rapes, slave-trading and genocide’. Ashkan Honarvar has taken this subject and visualized various aspects of European colonial history. The hunt for wealth and power, the submission of the indigenous people, the abuse of religion as a justification and the animal-like behavior. (Source)
Honarvar is used to tackling complex issues – his themes have ranged from war victims, to the Israel – Palestine conflict, to Soviet forced labor camps. He isn’t one to shy away from uncomfortable subject matter, and has a knack for turning horror into something wondrous. He explains his motivation:
Imperfections play a big role in my work. I’m always looking to find beauty in places you don’t expect them to be. I think subconsciously I’m trying to find beauty/aesthetics in the extremes, just to be able to believe that everything is ok and there is hope. (Source)
Artist Hoang Tran creates your favorite pop-culture characters, from The Simpson’s to the Ninja Turtles, all out of wax…but not just any wax. Tran carves each character from a jumbo-sized crayon! That’s right, each intricately and meticulously detailed character is carved from your everyday Crayola crayon…the same crayons that you used to make your own “masterpiece” with at age three. Each pop-culture icon is carved from the color in which it dominantly possesses, but also has hints of other colors that make up the finishing touches of the character. To do this, Tran melts different colored waxes, or crayons, and then applies the melted pigment onto the finest details of his creations. The amazing detail speaks wonders about the talent and patience the artist must have in order to master such a painstaking craft.
What is so wonderful about this artist’s crayon creatures is that only half of the wax is carved. The other side of the crayon is left intact, Crayola wrapper and all! Tran creates all sorts of characters such as Batman, Gizmo, Spongebob and Cookie Monster. He even carves out real life people such as Conan O’Brian. This series, appropriately titled Wax Nostalgic, is chalk full of infamous characters. It is a nostalgic dream. If you are a Star Wars fan, Tran has transformed a crayon into every character from this classic film from Hans Solo to Princess Leia. This impressive little treasures can be found on Hoang Tran’s website, or his Etsy site, where you can have get crayon characters for yourself. (via Inkult Magazine)