The Denizens of ‘Submersia’ Breathe New Life into Ancient Artifacts in Oil Portraits by Kajahl
November 18, 2022

From his studio overlooking Monterey Bay, California, Kajahl has created a new series of paintings that draw inspiration from the sea and ancient heritage, continuing a practice that employs portraiture to subvert white, European historical narratives. The artist merges classical motifs and mythical realms in Submersia, a fictional underwater world where artifacts take on new life.
Greek and Roman vessels like glass balsamarii, wine jugs known as oinochoes, and conical rhyton vases often depicted figures or were fashioned in the shape of human or animal heads. More

Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. The article The Denizens of ‘Submersia’ Breathe New Life into Ancient Artifacts in Oil Portraits by Kajahl appeared first on Colossal.

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Diverse Ecosystems Merge in Hyperrealistic Paintings of Flora and Fauna by Lisa Ericson
November 4, 2022

Ecosystems intermingle and mammals find themselves immersed in an increasingly watery world in Lisa Ericson’s hyperrealistic acrylic paintings. A hare and a mountain goat, which would typically be found in dry climates or high elevations, stand atop a small island of cacti or rock in an ongoing series of works that view the climate crisis—especially the impending rise of sea levels—through a lens of magical realism.
Drawing on the artistic legacy of chiaroscuro, or contrast between the bright figures and deep background, Ericson’s compositions appear as if a spotlight has been directed on the scene to highlight unusual interactions, such as a fox ferrying bluebirds across a waterway or a mountain goat stranded on a submerged rocky peak. More

Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. The article Diverse Ecosystems Merge in Hyperrealistic Paintings of Flora and Fauna by Lisa Ericson appeared first on Colossal.

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Evoking Coral, Grass Roots Are Grown into Compostable Garments and Functional Objects
October 9, 2022

Fashion is notorious for its astounding impact on the planet. Clothes are discarded within a few months in favor of the latest trend, cheap, synthetic fibers send harmful microplastics into the oceans, and waste from wealthier nations is often shipped to countries without additional resources only to pollute the local environments. As some designers try to steer the industry toward a more ethical, sustainable future, materials are often front of mind, including for Zena Holloway, who recently released a collection of garments and objects grown from grass roots. More Continue reading

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A New Book Plunges into the Vast Diversity of the World’s Oceans Across 3,000 Years
July 28, 2022

Despite thousands of years of research and an unending fascination with marine creatures, humans have explored only five percent of the oceans covering the majority of the earth’s surface. A forthcoming book from Phaidon dives into the planet’s notoriously vast and mysterious aquatic ecosystems, traveling across the continents and three millennia to uncover the stunning diversity of life below the surface.
Spanning 352 pages, Ocean, Exploring the Marine World brings together a broad array of images and information ranging from ancient nautical cartography to contemporary shots from photographers like Sebastião Salgado and David Doubilet. More Continue reading

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Clusters of Diaphanous Textile Sculptures by Mariko Kusumoto Evoke the Ocean Floor
July 1, 2022

Japanese artist and designer Mariko Kusumoto (previously) shapes gossamer coral and sea creatures from soft fibers like polyester, nylon, and cotton. Embedded with tiny ripples or airy pockets, the standalone sculptures and wearables are translucent renditions of lifeforms, and their delicate compositions correspond with the fragility of the subject matter. The Boston-based artist tends to cluster the individual pieces into larger works, creating sprawling reefs and diverse ecosystems brimming with color and texture. More Continue reading

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A Vibrant Coral Ecosystem of Thousands of Crocheted Sculptures Confronts the Climate Crisis
May 12, 2022

A new report released this week by an Australian agency says that the 1,400-mile Great Barrier Reef has undergone its sixth mass bleaching. About 91 percent of the brightly colored marine ecosystems were affected by this most recent catastrophe, which occurs when water temperatures rise. Disasters like this are becoming more frequent as the climate crisis intensifies, prompting artists like Christine and Margaret Wertheim to respond with striking displays of what could be permanently lost. More Continue reading

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Vivid Environments by Yellena James Pause Natural Processes to Capture Life in Flux
April 1, 2022

Following her series centered around the healing properties of Prussian blue, Portland-based artist Yellena James continues to imagine vibrant ecosystems brimming with fantastical life from land and sea. Her delicate organisms appear to float in washes of pastel colors and evoke coral, kelp, and daisies with an unearthly and whimsical twist.
Recently on view at Stephanie Chefas Projects, James’s Origin series works in this vein and explores the most fundamental aspects of existence. More Continue reading

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Knit Coral Suits and Vibrant Marine Creatures Spring From Mulyana’s Whimsical Yarn-Based Ecosystems
January 26, 2022

In Mulyana’s Fragile Ecologies, two figures cloaked in coral and algae tower over beds of fiber-based sea creatures. The Indonesian artist continues his playful and eccentric approach to marine life conservation in his solo show on view through March 4 at Sapar Contemporary, which brings some of his life-sized costumes and an array of woolen specimens to the gallery. Each piece is knit or crocheted with recycled, brightly colored yarn, which the artist fashions into sprawling ecosystems and immersive installations that dangle from the ceiling. More Continue reading

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Hyperrealistic Ceramic Sculptures by Christopher David White Mimic the Splintered Texture of Decaying Wood
December 16, 2021

In his Richmond studio, artist Christopher David White (previously) practices an alchemy of materials as he transforms slabs of clay into deceptive sculptures and functional objects that appear carved from hunks of decaying wood. His trompe l’oeil ceramics are fragile depictions of the hardy material, complete with its gnarled knots and splintered edges in various states of decomposition.
To achieve such a hyperrealistic finish, each piece undergoes multiple rounds of detailing—head to Instagram for a glimpse behind-the-scenes—which White starts by shaping the initial form with knots and branches and imprinting large grooves for the grain. More Continue reading

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Colossal’s Favorite Books of 2021
December 8, 2021

Before we (eagerly) say goodbye to 2021, we’re taking a look back at the year, starting with the books we covered on Colossal. Throughout the past 12 months, we published dozens of articles centered on new artist monographs and tomes surveying broader topics that range from art and design to science and history. We’ve gathered our top 10 below, although you can browse nearly every title we mentioned on the site on Bookshop. More Continue reading

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Artificial Organisms: Shimmering Digital Creatures Undulate and Pulse with Light in Maxim Zhetskov’s New Film
November 9, 2021

In “Artificial Organisms,” Russian director Maxim Zhestkov (previously) enlivens machine intelligence to create palpitating marine organisms that radiate with vibrant bands of light. The hulking, life-like specimens, which are comprised of countless individual spheres, are presented floating in undulating masses or enveloping a stark white structure in groups evocative of a coral reef. Each piece fuses the artificial and organic, producing “a bizarre world of mesmerizing digital creatures,” Zhestkov says. More Continue reading

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Exquisitely Cut Paper Sculptures by Rogan Brown Highlight the Effects of Coral Bleaching
November 4, 2021

“The coral reef is a microcosm of a macrocosm,” says paper artist Rogan Brown. “What is happening to the reefs today will ultimately happen to the planet tomorrow unless action is taken.” Through new paper sculptures comprised of delicately fringed sea creatures, Brown (previously) creates a striking visual display of the disastrous impacts of the climate crisis on marine life, showing how issues like coral bleaching can radiate outward into the wider world. More Continue reading

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Graceful Swimmers Breach the Water’s Surface in Sonia Alins’s Poetic Mixed-Media Illustrations
August 12, 2021

In Sonia Alins’s dreamy works, figures gently break through the surface of the sea, creating a minimal ripple around their bodies as they dip in and out of the water. The Spanish artist and illustrator (previously) is known for her expressive swimmers, whose enlarged limbs splay in graceful positions as they float and move through the ocean. Translucent sheets of vellum produce the cloudy effects of water, obscuring fish and coral and adding a three-dimensional element to the largely ink, acrylic, and watercolor drawings. More Continue reading

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Translucent Textiles Cast Organisms and Mundane Objects as Dreamy Sculptures and Wearables
July 9, 2021

From polyester, nylon, and cotton, Japanese artist and designer Mariko Kusumoto fabricates sculptural forms that resemble the creatures and everyday objects she finds most fascinating. She uses a proprietary heat-setting technique to mold the ubiquitous materials into undulating ripples, honeycomb poufs, and even tiny schools of fish that are presented in elegant and fanciful contexts. Whether a pastel coral reef or a fantastical bracelet filled with mushrooms, rosettes, and minuscule bicycles, Kusumoto’s body of work, which includes standalone objects and wearables, uses the ethereal qualities of the translucent fibers to make even the banalest forms appear like they’re part of a dream. More Continue reading

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Colorful Glazes Coat Exquisite Vessels Sculpted with Smooth Sloping Porcelain
May 24, 2021

Sophie Cook sculpts delicate porcelain into teardrops, bottles, and pods with swollen bases and long bowed necks. Often evoking the colors of the Suffolk landscape surrounding her studio, the elegant vessels have smooth exteriors coated in matte and glossy glazes that range from coral to graphite and sage. The pieces vary in height and width and are designed to be displayed in groups as “a three-dimensional still life,” she says in a statement. More Continue reading

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Innumerable Spines Cover Amorphous Sea Creatures Sculpted in Clay by Marguerita Hagan
April 15, 2021

Prior to sculpting the prickly lifeforms that comprise her Marine Abstracts series, Marguerita Hagan plunged into the waters surrounding the Cayman Islands to get a glimpse of the coral and sponges inhabiting the region. “My research is important to my work, whether from seeing firsthand like diving, which manifested the sponge and coral-inspired Marine Abstracts, or visiting labs and working with my scientist friends,” the Philadelphia-based artist says. More Continue reading

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Fantastical Plants and Hybrid Characters Form a Strange Menagerie Crafted by Cat Johnston
March 19, 2021

A moth-human hybrid, striped coral, and a smoking frog sporting a tracksuit inhabit Cat Johnston’s fantastical ecosystem crafted from paper and textiles. The playfully bizarre creatures are inspired by monsters, mythology, and folklore, evoking deities and magnifying the strange qualities of plants and animals. Johnston created many of the lifeforms shown here shortly after moving to San Francisco and exploring the environment. “I was blown away by all the strange and lovely cacti and succulents and the animals I saw there (hummingbirds and pelicans and raccoons!) and wanted to create a landscape of plants and creatures that felt as alien and magical as California did to me,” she says. More Continue reading

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